anx·i·e·ty (aNGˈzīədē/) noun 1. A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.



he ability to remember the past and to imagine the future sets us apart from other animals. A zebra doesn’t worry about the lion until the lion is upon it, at which time it reacts. If it escapes it will shake for hours afterwards to release the trauma, and then it’s free. But humans have the special ability to imagine that lion attacking over and over again. It must give us some kind of evolutionary advantage or else we wouldn’t have developed this ability. Anxiety is part of the price we pay for our imaginations, and a self-aware consciousness.

This subject is close to Jeff’s heart. He describes a four-year period in which he suffered debilitating anxiety as “a black hole of self-focused rumination”. He tells Dr. Keith about the medications, the treatments, screaming his head off, and what finally drew him out of that terrible place.

If you’re in a society whose goal is zero anxiety, then you’re always sick. You need to have an anxiety architecture that you apply to have just the right amount of anxiety to optimize your performance.
–Dr. Keith Witt

Chögyam Trungpa used to say that anxiety is just the feeling of being a separate self. Research has shown that when we’re connected to each other our anxiety goes way down. Other things that help are assertive action and deep relaxation.

Regardless, all emotions have relevance to our lives and we want to act on them in a healthy, functional way. We can begin by looking at anxiety itself with compassion, acceptance and caring intent.

Some of the things that Jeff and Dr. Keith talk about in the podcast:

• The different types of anxiety disorders and especially the difference between anxiety, fear, and panic
• Alleviating anxiety at difference stages of development
• How our culture supports dissociation in the face of unpleasant emotions
• Turning toward anxiety and coming into the present moment
• The two best anxiety regulating techniques ever developed

We hope you enjoy The Shrink & The Pundit series. Send your questions and comments for the show to [email protected] Record a voice memo on your smartphone or use the Speakpipe button to the right.