This is the central message in Dennis-Tiwary’s new book, Future Tense. She concludes that the problem isn’t anxiety itself, but our beliefs about it and our attempts to avoid it, which are not only destined to fail, but also to make us weaker and more fragile. It’s a vicious cycle.
To help reframe anxiety as an ally not an enemy, Future Tense takes a deep dive into the emotion itself. ‘Anxiety is very different to fear,’ says Dennis-Tiwary. ‘Fear is the certainty that something bad is happening to you. Anxiety is about uncertainty; it’s the feeling that something bad could happen, but might not. It’s the discrepancy between where you are and where you want to be.’ So you’re anxious about failing your exams. About that lump. Finding your first job. ‘Anxiety is designed to feel bad – your heart races, your blood vessels contract – so you sit up and listen,’ she says. ‘But unlike fear, anxiety contains hope.