Answer: it’s bloody hard.
I mean, sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes you don’t even realise you’re following it until you look back in hindsight.
But then there are times when intuition beefs up and uses your fight, flight or freeze to get your attention.
Problem is, if you suffer from an on-going anxiety condition, then how do you know whether it’s a true warning or just another one of your body’s overreactions?
Again, it’s really, f*in’ hard.
I’m afraid it’s really a question of how in touch you are with what’s going on around you.
For example; I wrote about an encounter I had with a man who asked for my number. I thought that, when I was inundated with anxiety, I was just scared – because dating causes anyone to freak out in some small way.
However, after seeing the way he is treating my friend (who’s number he also asked for) is making me think that perhaps I was a little too hasty in getting annoyed at my body’s reaction.
Perhaps it really was waving a red flag.
I was frustrated because going out with someone new, dating or not, shouldn’t be cause for alarm. It should be fun, it should be enjoyable, I should be able to relax with this type of situation. Instead, I had all these unpleasant sensations; anxiety around the possibility of being around this man, having to, I suppose, explain that I wasn’t the kind of girl that could simply “have coffee” on a whim.
But I think in some small way I knew – I knew that my anxiety wasn’t just anxiety.
As my friend and I were finishing up the day at work, she ran into this man. He asked her to sit down and have a chat. My friend explained that I was finishing up now (we finished half an hour apart) and she had to meet me ’cause I was giving her a lift home.
He said, “it’s okay, I can give you a lift.”
To which she replied, “no, it’s okay.”
At this point, he subtly flipped her off. In her words, he was rubbing his hands together and, thinking she wouldn’t notice, stuck his finger up in her general direction.
She ask, “did you just flip me off?”
He said, “no, no.”
Knowing what she saw, she said, “I’m pretty sure you just flipped me off.”
I mean, what kind of person does that?
When she explained this all to me I said, “it’s kind of weird he offered you a lift home… because he lives on the opposite side of town to us…” Creepy, right?
So, as you can see, it is incredibly hard to pinpoint the difference between a fake warning and a real one.