Mechanisms that cause and feed back anxiety: emotional anchoring

Mechanisms that cause and feed back anxiety: emotional anchoring

Our brain has a very important characteristic. When something for him has a special importance, that is, when an emotional response, whether good or bad, occurs, the brain tends to repeat that same response to the same stimulus. We call this phenomenon "anchor." An anchor is an automatic response associated with a neutral stimulus, which is triggered by the presence of the stimulus alone.

For example, songs or smells are very powerful anchors: we smell a perfume or hear a song and awaken in us memories and emotions forgotten for many years, that first girlfriend, our first day of school, what memories ...


  • 1 Anxiety and negative anchors
  • 2 Lack of acceptance causes anxiety
  • 3 The flight from reality as a defense mechanism
  • 4 Release the control

Anxiety and negative anchors

Anxiety works through negative anchors. We get "hooked" on automatic responses associated with a supposed or really anxious stimulus. But it is that the brain has another even more important characteristic, for better and for worse. If we do not remove something from the head, the brain begins to generalize the stimulus to similar stimuli, in meaning, in form, in symbolism, in whatever. There are more and more stimuli that cause the same anxiety while there are more and more things, situations, contexts that cause anxiety responses.

The clearest mechanism of anxiety is to get out of reality and go to the imaginary.

The person leaves unconsciously and dangerously from the realm of reality, and tries to escape from a reality that "perceives" as dangerous. And to escape from that reality and control it, (useless attempt that leads us to suffering), he turns with his fantasies and thoughts towards an imaginary reality, guided all by emotions such as fear, guilt, shame. What moves the person to flee to that imaginary world is apart from the desire to escape from reality, the desire to control his reality, his life, his day to day, to be as he wants. He has the desire to manipulate and control his reality and that is not possibleThat's why he fails and gets sick.

Lack of acceptance causes anxiety

Whatever your reality, the world you are going to escape from it, still makes you suffer more, since the lack of acceptance, of what there is, of what I am, of what is, of what are the In addition, it is the first cause of suffering.

We can not control anything, and above all, we can never control the outside, the future, what will happen to us, or others. We can only modify, and with effort, what depends on us. The opposite will be an arduous and frustrating struggle that will lead us to be anxious, exhausted, and sad, as well as helpless.

The escape from reality as a defense mechanism

The direction that the anxious person's fantasies usually take can be of three types:

1. The person tries to place himself in a time of future, at a later date and situation, to the one at the present time. His intention is to avoid a potential danger he perceives in his current life.

For example, she is at home sitting and at the same time in 10 years preventing her daughter, who will then be a teenager, go out with the wrong people, something can happen to her, that she drives and has drunk ... and while she is imagining what she will do to control that , if you will accompany her to all places, etc.

As you can understand, you can not be on the couch happy and playing with her daughter who is now small and at the same time be in the future protecting her from danger. You have to choose. If she is in the future occupied with her possible dangers and how to avoid them, she will be anxious, and of course, she will not enjoy the present, in which there is NO danger now, in which now her daughter plays happily.

What could be happening for a person to act like this?

As we said in the anxiety scheme, an outside stimulus may have connected it to the anxious mechanism, some mother has lost a daughter, the news of an accident, or has revived for some reason something pending from the past, some subject unresolved that made her feel vulnerable, some accident, duel. This stimulus connects you with fear, and activates the mechanism.

2. The person, with the mind, gets out of his reality, and unconsciously compares himself with the model of what he thinks it should be, what you should feel, have, etc. This model is based on the beliefs that are generated in childhood by the influence of parents, environment, educators, and that influence their perception of reality.

Then, the person tries another impossible, as is controlling reality: try to be who you are not. And the body will create anxiety and remind you that it cannot be other than who it is.

3. Another type of escape from reality, very hard and sad is when the person unconsciously goes to the past, remembering, and tries to relive a situation to act differently.

For example, a mother who has lost her young son in a sad and fatal accident, and now with the memories, try to avoid that situation and modify it, doing something different that prevents that terrible end. Unfortunately, it is another impossible and anxiety paralyzes him, causes drowning, crying crisis, despair, unable to control what happened, or change it.

Release control

In conclusion we would say that, any attempt to control reality and achieve something impossible, such as going to control the future or the past, is sterile and generates anxiety and suffering. If it is temporary or momentary anxiety, it is a signal from the body. If the person does not realize their attempt to achieve an impossible, it will trigger a process of anxiety and chronic anguish and existential frustration.