Article Details

Ancient Anxiety

What you will get:Reflections on Your Ancient Self


Picture the scene…


20,000 years ago.


A bleak and desolate land where ferocious beasts rule the earth.


Rima was starting to panic.
The reality of her situation was dawning on her.


Separated from her tribe.
The sun beginning to set.


No food.
No shelter.
And no safety.


No safety…


From the predators looking for their nightly feed.




She hears a noise in the undergrowth.
The hairs on the back of her neck stand upright.
Her muscles tense.


Rima’s senses are now on high alert.
She is young and strong, but fear takes over.
Fear of the wolves tirelessly tracking her.


Nighfall arrives.
But Rima cannot sleep.
Because she knows, if she closes her eyes and submits to sleep, it may be the last thing she ever does.


She feels sick.
Anxiety out of control.
Will this be her last night on earth?


But a glimmer of hope.
The sound of human voices.
Huntsmen from her tribe.


Her instincts kick in.
Without thinking, she runs towards the voices.
The beasts in the shadows follow.




She makes it to her tribe.
The wolves sense defeat – at least this time.
They retreat. And Rima feels that enormous sense of relief.


But the reptile and limbic parts of her brain remember everything.
They are primed.
Always on alert.
Waiting for the next time the beasts come knocking on her door.


Fast forward 20,000 years.


Rita is the CEO of a successful multinational.
Seemingly in control of her life.


But just like Rima, her ancient relative, she gets anxious.
The beasts are now gone.
Replaced with modern day “wolves”.




She has developed a way of coping.
But deep down she is not happy.
Plagued by the demon of modern times – anxiety.


What will people think of me?
Will I be good enough?
Why can’t my body be like hers?
What if my headache is a serious illness?
Maybe I’m not meant to be a CEO.
Why can’t I stop drinking too much wine.
Is it safe to travel with all the terrorist attacks.


The list of worries goes on and on.


You see…


Rita does not have the daily threats to her existence that Rima did.
Rima’s worries we’re genuine – predators were real. Lack of food and shelter a constant threat.


But Rita has no predators.
She has a healthy income, ample food, and a safe home.


But her primitive brain still remembers a time 20,000 years ago.
A time where it needed to protect her.


And in the absence of real wolves, it creates irrational fears.


So the next time…


You get anxious, with no logical reason, remember…


Your primitive brain is trying to protect you.
It means well.
And at one time in history, this anxiety would have saved your life.


But also remember…


Your are not your anxiety.
You can respect it.
You can observe it from a distance.
But you don’t have to be it.


I’m off to notice when I get anxious for no logical reason and remember that I am not and never will be my anxiety.


How about you?


To your fulfilment.





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Steve Neale
“Creator of the Limbic Performance System for Outstanding Leadership”

Psychologist, Executive Coach, EI Practitioner, Award Winning Trainer, International Author, Psychodynamic Therapist, Hypnotherapist, Mindfulness Instructor, International Speaker, Creator of the LPS, Creator of the Accredited Masters in High Performance Leadership

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