There was an AMAZING article in the NY Times Magazine this weekend called "Understanding the Anxious Mind". Its enlightening and inspiring so I'm re-posting a good part:
We meet a doctor, Kagan, who studied babies for ones that were anxious ,then checked back in as they were teens:
"Kagan suspected...that the most edgy infants were more likely to grow up to be inhibited, shy and anxious. No high-reactors among the first 18. They gazed calmly at things that were unfamiliar.From a freaked out baby to a teenager that sounds all too familiar:
But the 19th baby was different. She was distressed by novelty — new sounds, new voices, new toys, new smells — and showed it by flailing her legs, arching her back and crying. Here was what Kagan was looking for but was not sure he would find: a baby who essentially fell apart when exposed to anything new."
Baby 19 grew up true to her temperament. This past summer, Kagan showed me a video of her from 2004, when she was 15."
“When I don’t quite know what to do and it’s really frustrating and I feel really uncomfortable, especially if other people around me know what they’re doing. I’m always thinking, Should I go here? Should I go there? Am I in someone’s way? ... I worry about things like getting projects done... I think, Will I get it done? How am I going to do it?"Wow... that's was (is?) me. I always beat myself up for not doing "enough" and set standards that are impossible. I can't change the world to a more perfect place, and that can drive me crazy. I wonder if I was a baby who didn't like new things?
Her voice trails off. She wants to make a difference, she says, and worries about whether she will. “I can’t stop thinking about that.”
But... its not all biology!
"...Nor does every brain state spark the same behavior: some might repress the bad feelings and act normally; others might withdraw. But while the behavior and the subjective experience associated with an emotion like anxiety might be in a person’s conscious control, physiology usually is not. This is what Kagan calls “the long shadow of temperament.”So my temperament can cast a long shadow... but its not a sentence to a lifetime of back-arching and crying from childhood onwards. I may be predisposed to be anxious, but that doesn't mean I'm powerless.
I may do another post of other parts of the article... so stay tuned :)
Read the whole article here!