Wouldn’t it be nice if describing the source of your anxiety were as easy as describing the show you watched last night or the book you just finished reading. Asking an anxious person to describe the source of their anxiety is asking for a rational explanation of an emotional experience. Anxiety is usually not rational and its sources aren’t always clear. It’s not as simple as I’m afraid of spiders or snakes so now I feel anxious. Anxiety is most often caused by a combination of thoughts that don’t always make sense even to the person experiencing the anxiety.
Anxiety is often rooted in deeper fears that are more challenging to identify, such as how a person fits into the world or one’s ability to continue to provide for his or her family. One thing that is almost always true of thoughts that produce anxiety is that they are projections into the future. If your thoughts are focused on the present moment and you are feeling anxiety, you better run!
For the most part, depression exists when our thoughts are focused on the past and anxiety exists when our thoughts are focused on the future. Peace exists in the present moment, and the more time we can spend there, the more insulated we are against negative or painful emotions. As responsible humans, we don’t have the luxury of completely disregarding the future, but we are able to take time each day to force ourselves to live in the present moment.