When anxiety is high, resilience is low. Behaviors are extreme and rigid; thoughts are unclear and disjointed. Anxious people speak harsh words or cut themselves off from others through silence. To manage their threatening situation, people hurry to localize their anxiety. They blame and criticize. Yet it is one thing for a system [this can be any functioning group in which you are a part from family to nation] to be shattered by shocking events and another to be shackled by its own reactive tremors. Once a system fortifies its stability by its reactivity, it cannot get what it needs most: time and distance, calm and objectivity, clarity and imagination.
This description of anxiety and its impact upon systems (i.e. groups) sent tremors of recognition through me. Since 9/11 we in the US have lived with high anxiety and reinforced it in oh so many ways, beginning with color coded threat alerts and spiraling into the longest running war we have ever been involved with. Take a look at the talking heads on the talk shows and commentaries and see it the above description does not fit their behavior to a tea. Take a look at the newest Congress members and see if their beliefs do not fit this pattern. We need to work on lowering our national anxiety levels so that we as a nation may once again have calm and objectivity, clarity and imagination. Our anxiety has pulled us far, far off center and in so many ways we are not behaving like ourselves. If this continues, I hate to think where we are heading. Steinke adds, "...a system that maintains its stability by reactivity alone will not be stable in the long run." He concludes that any system that continues down this high anxiety path will in time no longer be able to repair itself, plan for the future, and find new directions. Take a look at the dysfunctional Congress today and tell me Steinke does not have it right!
Peter L. Steinke. How Your Church Family Works. Page 47