Future Tense: Why Anxiety Is Good for You (Even Though It Feels Bad)

Future Tense: Why Anxiety Is Good for You (Even Though It Feels Bad)

by Tracy Dennis-Tiwary
Future Tense: Why Anxiety Is Good for You (Even Though It Feels Bad)

Future Tense: Why Anxiety Is Good for You (Even Though It Feels Bad)

by Tracy Dennis-Tiwary

Hardcover

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Overview

A psychologist confronts our pervasive misunderstanding of anxiety and presents a powerful new framework for reimagining and reclaiming the confounding emotion as the advantage it evolved to be.

We taught people that anxiety is dangerous and damaging, and that the solution to its pain is to eradicate it like we do any disease—prevent it, avoid it, and stamp it out at all costs. Yet cutting-edge therapies, hundreds of self-help books, and a panoply of medications have failed to keep debilitating anxiety at bay. A third of us will struggle with anxiety disorders in our lifetime and rates in children and adults continue to skyrocket.

That’s because the anxiety-as-disease story is false—and it’s harming us.

In this radical reinterpretation, Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary argues that anxiety is an evolved advantage that protects us and strengthens our creative and productive powers. Although it’s related to stress and fear, it’s uniquely valuable—allowing us to imagine the uncertain future and compelling us to make that future better. That’s why anxiety is inextricably linked to hope.

By distilling the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, including her own, combining it with real-world stories and personal narrative, Dennis-Tiwary shows how we can acknowledge the discomfort of anxiety and see it as a tool, rather than something to be feared and reviled. Detailing the terrible cost of our misunderstanding of anxiety, while celebrating the lives of people who harness it to their advantage, she argues that we can—and must—learn to be anxious in the right way.

Future Tense blazes the way for a paradigm shift in how we relate to and understand anxiety in our day-to-day lives—a fresh set of beliefs and insights that allow us to explore and leverage even very distressing anxiety rather than to be overwhelmed by it. Through this new prism of thinking, even anxiety disorders can be alleviated. Achieving a new mindset will not fix anxiety itself—because the emotion of anxiety is not broken; the way we cope with it is. By challenging our long-held assumptions about anxiety, this book provides a concrete framework for how to reclaim it for what it has always been—a gift rather than a curse, and a source of inner strength, joy, and ingenuity. 


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780063062108
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 05/03/2022
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 422,264
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tracy A. Dennis-Tiwary, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Hunter College, the City University of New York, where she directs the Emotion Regulation Lab, and is cofounder of the digital therapeutics company Arcade Therapeutics. She received her doctoral and postdoctoral training in clinical psychology at The Pennsylvania State University and New York University School of Medicine. She has published over one hundred scientific articles in top peer-reviewed journals and delivered more than three hundred presentations at academic conferences and for corporate clients. Dr. Dennis-Tiwary has been featured throughout the media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, ABC, CNN, NPR, and Bloomberg Television. She lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Advice from the Patron Saint of Anxiety

Part I Why We Need Anxiety

What anxiety is, what it's for, and how it relies upon our powerful human ability to imagine the future

1 What Anxiety Is (and Isn't) 5

Anxiety is a complex emotion, related to fear but distinctly different It varies along a spectrum of intensity from everyday worries to crippling panic, but no matter where we fall on that scale, the role of anxiety in our lives may not be what we think it is.

2 Why Anxiety Exists 25

This emotion has evolved to make us more resourceful in the face of uncertainty. The biology of anxiety reveals why we need this difficult feeling-and why it has to be unpleasant to do its Job. Anxiety transcends our basic fight/flight responses because it is rooted in our primal strivings for social connection and future rewards.

3 Future Tense: Choose Your Own Adventure 47

Anxiety emerges because we are creatures who think about and prepare for the future. But our misunderstanding of anxiety keeps us from seeing this, and so we experience it only as something negative and disabling.

Part II How We were Misled about Anxiety

Why and when our understanding of anxiety went wrong and how science and modern life exacerbate this misunderstanding

4 The Anxiety-as-Disease Story 71

The psychological and medical sciences turned anxiety into an ailment. But even before that, medieval views of emotion and the life of the soul demonized anxiety. We learned to think of it as something to avoid and suppress, which only causes it to spiral out of control.

5 Comfortably Numb 91

By thinking of anxiety as an unwanted affliction, we do everything in our power to do away with it. The widespread overprescription of anti-anxiety medications and painkillers is a prime example-one that has had damaging, even fatal, results.

6 Blame the Machines? 105

Digital technology is a driver of unhealthy anxiety because it facilitates escapism and disrupts nourishing social connections. Blaming technology for all problematic anxiety, however, is a mistake-it misses the complexity of the problem while keeping us from seeing how to use digital technology in better ways.

Part III How to Rescue Anxiety

Seeing anxiety as an ally will improve every part of our lives and can promote exceptional resourcefulness, creativity, and Joy. In rescuing anxiety, we rescue ourselves.

7 Uncertainty 127

Uncertainty puts us on edge. By leaning into that discomfort to figure out what to do about uncertainty-even in the middle of a global pandemic-we open doors to possibilities we never imagined before. When we do so, anxiety is the secret sauce.

8 Creativity 143

When we accept the discomfort of anxiety and listen to what it's teaching us, we become more creative-whether we're creating works of art or figuring out what to make for dinner.

9 Kids Are Not Fragile 159

Too often, we react to our children's anxiety with accommodation and overprotection. We do so with the best of intentions and because we believe they are fragile, but we are wrong. We can help kids be their strongest and most resilient when we stop fearing their anxiety-and our own.

10 Being Anxious in the Right Way 187

If you've read this far, you've changed your mindset about anxiety. It's time to do something about it.

Acknowledgments 209

Notes 217

Index 229

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