Seven Apps that Power Systemic Anxiety

By the word "system" and its adjective, "Systemic," I mean any group of people connected together, brought together by location or actions or relationships. Today we will study human systems in which anxiety has gone systemic, or filtered through the entire group.

If the people system or relationship system under consideration is like a computer's operating system, then there are some apps that power on and off with the system to help it do its work. In human systems where anxiety has gone systemic, some apps need to be disabled.

First, to ease Systemic Anxiety, the Increase Effort App needs to be unplugged: Otherwise known as Try Harder. Don't just stand there, do something! Work harder, not necessarily smarter. Apologize more. Make sure to look busy.

Second, to ease Systemic Anxiety, the Gather Information App needs to be unplugged: Collect more data. Find more opinions. Present a bigger spread sheet. Administer another survey. Read another book. Go for another test. Talk about the data.

Third, to ease Systemic Anxiety, the Crave Certainty App needs to be unplugged: Any number of issues may become polarized without room for alternative thinking. Either you do this or you are that; you can't have it both ways.

Fourth, to ease Systemic Anxiety, the Depend on Reaction App needs to be unplugged: Intense reactions flash across connections, stealing the line from calm I-statements. Lack of intensity or speed in reaction is seen by others as not caring, not being part of the team, not carrying responsibility.

Fifth, to ease Systemic Anxiety, the Go Along App needs to be unplugged: Someone seemingly calls out, "All together now." Gossip swirls and all must be included. All attention focuses on the underdog, the weakest one, the one with the problem.

Sixth, to ease Systemic Anxiety, the Discover Blame App needs to be unplugged: The system looks for fault and talks about the case either pejoratively or condescendingly. Common targets of blame include someone's family, children, work, church, past, . . .

Seventh, to ease Systemic Anxiety, the Fix It Quick App needs to be unplugged: There is scurrying about to take care of so-and-so’s problem.  Pressure is on to fix problems quickly, whether a leak in the roof or someone's behavior. 

Some of the ideas in this article came from: Friedman, Edwin H. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York: Seabury Books, 1999, 2007.

Copyright 2015 Wilma Zalabak