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.