Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Inheriting Anxiety

Food for thought, courtesy of Hubs: An article in the NY Times, which, very simply stated, cites a study concluding our anxiety is inherited, not learned.

So basically, you are the way you are because you were born that way, not because your mom was a freak and she made you that way (although she inadvertently made you that way via the genes she passed on).

I find this fascinating because I've always assumed my personality flaws are the result of my upbringing. If I must own my personality flaws as inherited - as written in my genes - well, then all that the parenting mistakes resulted in is a chip on my shoulder.

Really, the article does not address all aspects of our personalities, but specifically anxiety. It states that babies who are anxious grow up to be anxious people, almost without fail.

Hubs recalls that as a child he was shy to a fault, and fearful of new situations. He wanted terribly to join a football league as a young boy but felt such anxiety over it he couldn't bring himself to do it. As an adult, he feels that he is an anxious person, and he's right that he is, in several ways, but he's not constantly anxious about everything. He worries over planning for events, paying bills, locking doors and windows, that sort of thing. He's certainly no longer a shy little boy, though.

As a child I was also shy, but mostly because I was locked in my own world, singing songs and telling stories to myself, puzzling over the spelling of words and imagining future possibilities. Today I am undoubtedly an introvert, but not to a fault (in my opinion). I am able to speak a lot, and will, but often find myself in the company of people who enjoy speaking more than I do, and I am typically happy to let them. I don't recall worrying over things as a child, but I certainly recall many solitary moments that were probably a result of my quiet, shy nature.

As an adult, I don't worry over things in an anxious way. Sure, I worry, but in a resigned, lazy way. I worry that a pain in my head is cancer eating my brain, in the same way I worry about a story on the news - in a temporary, half-assed way. I worry that I will never get this house whipped into shape. As I eat cookies on the couch. I worry that I will be forced to work at my job forever and might someday be driven to murder by it. As I surf the Internet, reading blogs written by much more clever writers.

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