We’re social creatures, now this is partly due to evolution. Evolution is definitely out of my knowledge range. However, I’ve had a theory for some time in my head and I heard a podcast which finally explained my thought perfectly. It fits into an Evolution Theory. There’s a feeling you get when you don’t think someone likes you, not someone unimportant to you, but If you’ve annoyed a friend, upset a coworker. That sort of uneasy anxiety that sits in your stomach. The anxiety I get when I think I’ve upset someone is quite intense and I’m not sure if it’s always my anxiety being intense or my empathy heightening it. The thought of upsetting someone is probably why I put up with situations significantly longer than I should, why I give people change after chance and just end up feeling like I am somehow the person who wasn’t good enough, didn’t say the right things, tip toed around how I felt as to not upset anyone when I really should have just said how I felt because now they don’t know and that’s my fault and my feelings of hurt aren’t valid because they don’t know… you get the picture. So I’ve found a theory which helps me explain the way I feel to myself (aka why I’m such a f***ing mess when it comes to relationships with people). And it comes back to evolution. Back when our greatest enemies were other predators and not our own minds, (I say this as an extremely privileged white girl who has not had a significant struggle in her life)… we were part of tribes. Think about the implications of someone disliking you in your own tribe. You’re out hunting/gathering (let’s not get into that) and a sabretooth tiger approaches, now the person next to you, maybe you ate their share of the berries one day, trust me if you eat my food, we’re no longer friends. So it’s you, the person whose berries you stole and a sabretooth tiger. Old mate berries looks at you, you stole my berries… would it really be a loss to the tribe if they lose you? And berries decides to leg it. Leaving you alone and presumably now dead. Similarly you upset enough people in the tribe and they exile you out, you’re alone, you meet tiger, you’re again dead. Pleasing people is your brains way of ensuring you’re in the group, that the people around you will protect you, and you’re brain hasn’t quite figured out that it’s not really a life or death situation if someone doesn’t like you. Which is why when someone’s text is shorter than last time, they only put 2 x’s instead of 3, my brain overreacts, I overthink and analyse what it was I said, did, what could have been misunderstood and make a problem out of nothing. The amount of conversations I hold in my head and could probably recite is terrifying. But, to my brain it’s extremely important to my self-preservation to know whether people in my tribe will stand with me in danger or whether they’d literally sacrifice me for their own benefit. And when we apply this theory to today’s context it explains why we react in such a way to social situations, if someone dislikes us, next time when we face a threat, they’d leave us.
Remember anxiety is your brains very best intentions of keeping you alive.