Unpacking the Science: Why you get anxious (Physically) whenever you do

Science has shown that physical anxiety is caused by our beliefs (what we think things mean, what we think is true about ourselves, things in the world, etc). But what does this really mean? Being able to honestly answer this question will likely help you completely see how to eliminate your anxiety triggers. Fortunately, we can answer it with reason and logic:

We have the ability to label and describe things in real-time. For example, if we see a movie we really like, we may say, “It was amazing” or “That was great.” If we watch something we dislike, we may label the movie as “trash” or something we wouldn’t watch again.

Recognizing that we have this ability to label, describe, and draw our own conclusions, does it not make sense that there are certain things we may evaluate and think we should be anxious about? Especially since anxiety can be used as a signal for danger. These things we think we should be anxious about likely represent some sort of “danger” to us. Does it also not make sense that our bodies would honor that evaluation and trigger physical anxiety in us whenever those things enter our conscious awareness?

Some share the view that anxiety/fear is an evolutionary tool/function for life or death reasons. That said, some of us have recognized that we can be anxious about non-life-threatening situations and get anxious about imagined events. Does this not suggest that anxiety can be used for non-life-threatening purposes? Does this not also suggest that anxiety is just that, a tool given to us by our creator that we can apply as we see fit? What often happens is we aren’t educated to understand anxiety this way. Furthermore, we likely used anxiety in our past as a way to take care of ourselves. We likely didn’t know of alternative ways to respond to our environments and may still use anxiety as a way to take care of ourselves even today.

Summary: We get anxious about things because we think we should be/get anxious about whatever we’re anxious about for one or more reasons.

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unconscious = things that exist that we aren’t aware of (Cambridge Dictionary)

If you’ve understood everything until this point, then the phrase “anxiety is caused by your beliefs” will hopefully be more clear. See the graphic below:

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belief = something that is accepted, considered to be true, or held as an opinion (Webster’s Dictionary)

So how do we eliminate our physical anxiety triggers?

Precisely speaking, the first step to eliminating an anxiety trigger is finding the reason(s)—which will be unique to you—why you think you should be anxious about the trigger. Uncovering these reasons alone may dissolve the trigger. If that doesn’t work, you’ll likely have to evaluate the reasons you uncovered and use that insight to determine a new default and non-anxiety-involving response to the trigger you’re eliminating. This shift in strategy often requires a change in some of the beliefs and worldviews you currently hold. You may also have to change some of your default reactions and responses to people and things. Benefits: less anxiety, more inner strength, and clarity.

If you want to learn how to uncover anxiety-causing beliefs and eliminate your triggers, check out the free book Fight-or-flight: How to Eliminate Anxiety Triggers w/ the Option Method. This site’s YouTube channel (which can also be accessed at the top right of the website) contains live demonstrations of what eliminating a trigger looks like.

Another goal of the post is that you’ll now understand what is meant by “anxiety is caused by your beliefs.” Feel free to reach out if you disagree with anything here or would like to discuss something specific.


For those who would like a video recap of this post, check this out.

Examples of triggers: physical and non-physical objects like thoughts, people, aspects of yourself, emotions, events, memories, words, and impulses

Note: This post is referring to physical anxiety/fight-or-flight triggers. A trigger = something, that when encountered, we experience a physical anxiety response. This post is not addressing anxiety caused by something physiological like low blood sugar, coffee, high histamine foods, etc.


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