The learning material and contents provided by the AltanaESP Network & System, frequently make use of terms and concepts that aren't all that familiar to most people. This glossary - AltanaESP Terms and Concepts - is a collection of the constructs (i.e. words, terms & concepts) often used in AltanaESP materials and content. This glossary act as a source of reference to enhance the contextual meaning and understanding of these "odd" terms and concepts. Words and/or phrases hold different meanings for each person. Therefore, it is a sensible idea to "define" the constructs used and to "place every body on the same page" when dealing with such constructs. You, the reader - most likely - have quite a different definition for, understanding of or perspective regarding such constructs... and that is fine! However, within the Altana... Electronic Support Platform (i.e. Network and System), the various terms, concepts and implications are quite specific and contextual.

Therefore, each word, term or concept - included in this glossary - serve as a "resources tool" to promote understanding and context when dealing with or exploring AltanaESP materials and contents.


Traumatic Events

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Constant and unfocussed spells of looming doom.

Anxiety is quite different from fear in that it is unique in its appearance and mainly originate from our core concerns. Although anxiety reflects many similarities with fear, our anxieties cannot be understood in terms of all people are the same (i.e. sameness dimension) or some people are the same (i.e. similar dimension). When it comes to anxiety, no two persons experience anxiety the same manner, because the difference dimension is the exclusive playing ground of our anxiety.

Anxiety is a multi-energy dynamic system reaction to an undefined threat or danger. Anxiousness is reflected as an intertwined combination of biochemical changes in the body, our personal history, our memory, experiences and the present social circumstances. Anxiety is an unpleasant and complex combination of emotions and feelings that may (or may not) include fears, apprehension and plenty of worries; which are frequently accompanied by some manifestations of physical sensations such as palpitations, nausea, muscle spasms, chest pains and/or shortness of breath.

Anxiety seems to be a unique human experience. Animals clearly know fear, but human anxiety involves an ability to use our memory and imagination to move backward and forward in time... an ability that animals do not appear to have. Anxiety that occurs during post-traumatic stress indicates that our memory structure is a more complicated mental functionality than animal memory. Moreover, a large portion of our anxiety is evoked by anticipation of future events. Without a sense of personal continuity over time (i.e. having a awareness of the past, present and future), we would not have the necessary "sources" for anxiety.

Anxiety has a consistent mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and behavioural impact on our life's. The mental aspect entails the CONSTANT expectation of a looming, vague, diffuse and uncertain danger. Physically the body prepares the itself to effectively deal with "a threat" (known as stress reactions): blood pressure and heart rate is increased, sweating escalates, blood flow to the major muscle groups is boosted; and the immune and digestive system functions are inhibited. Externally, physical signs of anxiety might include a pale skin, sweating, trembling, an irregular heartbeat and shallow breathing. Emotionally, anxiety causes a sense of dread or panic and that could physically result in nausea and chills. Behaviourally, both voluntary and involuntary behaviours or automatisms may arise directed at escaping or avoiding our feelings of anxiety. These behaviours are frequent and often maladaptive, which often surface as acute mind defences. However, anxiety shouldn't always be regarded as either pathological or maladaptive... it is a common emotion along with fear, anger, sadness, love, content, depressions, regret, happiness, ...etc. and anxiety plays a very important role in its contribution to our survival on this planet, especially via our intuitive ability.

It is important to distinguish between anxiety as a feeling or experience, and anxiety as stuckness. A person may feel anxious without having anxiety blockages. Also a person facing a clear and present danger or a realistic threat, is not usually considered to be in a state of uncontrollable anxiety. In addition, anxiety tends to frequently surface as a symptom in the areas of a our life that is frequently confronted by changing circumstances, often related to threatened dreams, expectations and goals brought about by future shock.

Although anxiety is a commonplace experience that everyone has from time to time - some much more than others - anxiety is difficult to describe in a concrete manner, because it has so many different potential causes and levels of intensity. "Professionals" categorize anxiety as an emotion or an affect; depending on whether it is described by the individual experiencing it (emotion) or by an outside observer (affect). The word emotion is generally used for the biochemical change and feeling state that underpin our internal awareness of anxiety. Affect is used to describe our emotional state from an observer's or "outside" point of view. When a "professional" says that a person has an anxious affect, s/he means that the individual appears nervous or anxious, or respond to others in an anxious way (e.g. the individual is shaky, tremulous, sweating, ...etc.)

Although anxiety is related to fear, it is not the same thing. Anxiety is unfocused, vague and hard to pin down a specific cause. Sometimes anxiety being experienced - in the present - may originate from an event or person that produced pain and fear in the past, but we are not consciously aware of the original source of the experience. It is this aspect of the remoteness of anxiety, that makes it difficult for us to compare our experiences of it. Whereas, we will be fearful in a physically dangerous situations, and can agree that fear is an appropriate reaction in the presence of danger, anxiety is often triggered by circumstances, objects or events that are unique and specific to each individual.

We might be anxious because of a unique meaning or memory being triggered by present circumstances, not because of some immediate danger. Thus, when observing an anxious person, could be truly puzzling as to the reason's for anxious experiences. Anxiety can have a number of different causes. Anxiety is a multidimensional reaction to stimuli in our environment or a reaction to an internal stimulus resulting from a combination of "normal" biological and individual psychological processes (e.g. a hypochondriac's reaction to a stomach rumbling). Anxiety is a constant and vague feeling of uneasiness and looming doom, therefore making it difficult for us to pin point exactly what the reasons are for these feelings that we experience. The remoteness of anxiety doesn't support understanding of anxiety either. Therefore, we tend to latch on to something that makes logical sense to us and what we think would explain what is happening. This way of dealing with anxiety can be more upsetting and unbalancing to our inner world, than it is helpful to us; because "outside" explanations cannot account for the uniqueness and individuality of the anxiety that we experience. To complicate matters even more, certain situation or events also increase our levels of anxiety more than others, for example: We can be more anxious in the presence of strangers than friends, more anxious during exams than tests, ...etc. leaving us with an illusion that we "know" what cause anxiety. This "belief" can result in the formulation and clinging to certain "bandwagon" ideas as an ultimate solution for anxiety. Various terms and concepts such as: emotional intelligence, maturity, self-worth, passive aggressive, self-determination, ...etc. in itself contains valuable reference information, but when we do not see or interpreted it in terms of our personal context, it often encourage and strengthen our levels of anxiety, rather than reducing it.

The Key for understanding anxiety, is the ability to listen to the messages and become aware of what our energy system is trying to tell us. We need to familiarize ourselves on how our energy system (as an unique, individual and finely tuned dynamic system) operate and what signs (specific to us) provide us with an indication that things is getting out of hand (i.e. increased levels of anxiety). Outside sources and resources can be immensely helpful as references to our understanding; BUT... in the end... real and lasting success is how we listen and respond to the signs that our energy system provides us with. Unfortunately, anxiety is unique to each person and it makes it difficult - even impossible - to indicate all possible "tell signs" of anxiety. However, some areas of focus to monitor our levels of anxiety, can be indicated as follows...
What we have to remember - especially with regards to anxiety - is that preventing anxiety is much more efficient and productive than "curing" anxiety. As humans we have significant control over our thoughts, and may master many ways of preventing anxiety in the first place by monitoring, evaluating and correcting possible irrational perspectives, ideas and believes. We also have some power over anxiety arising from social and environmental conditions, but other manifestations of anxiety are "hard wired" into our bio-computer and our life cycle (i.e. process of life), and cannot be confronted and dealt with all that easy - for example - our human core concerns.
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Emotions of sorrow and feelings of immense sadness isn't necessarily triggered by traumatic events in the past. This emotions and feeling is more often experienced in modern times as a result of expectations being nullified.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder mainly associated with serious traumatic events and characterized by such symptoms as survivor guilt, reliving the trauma in dreams, numbness and lack of involvement with reality or recurrent thoughts and images.

Survivor guilt is a deep seated feeling of guilt often experienced by those who have survived some catastrophe that took the lives of many others; derives in part from a feeling that they did not do enough to save the others who perished and in part from feelings of being unworthy relative to those who died; "Survivor guilt was first noted in those who survived the Holocaust".

Anxiety disorder is a cover term for a variety of mental disorders in which severe anxiety is a salient symptom such as battle fatigue, combat fatigue, combat neurosis and shell shock... a mental disorder caused by stress of active warfare.

Keeping the above description and explanation in mind we could "see" a kind of correlation between PTSD and Burnout... Don't you think?

What about the the role of the basic principle of "fighting to survive"... the only difference between PTSD and Burnout is merely the realm in which the phenomenon actually manifest. Anxiety is lock in the lower-self sphere of human existence in the scenario of PTSD; and in the scenario of burnout, anxiety is locked in the higher-self sphere of being human.

Key Post Traumatic Stress is when we consistently experience feelings of immense sadness (i.e. emotion of deep sorrow) related to events in our past which are cumulatively responsible for an acute guilt-shame-fear cycle.
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Anxiety also has an important social dimension, because as humans we are social creatures. We frequently experience feelings of high anxiety when we anticipate and - therefore - fear the loss of social approval and love.

One of the most "popular" social stressor that we encounter on a frequent basis is prejudice. Individuals who belong to groups that are targets of bias, normally are at a much higher risk for developing high levels of uncontrollable anxiety. Quite a number "experts" are of the opinion that the higher frequency of phobias and panic manifestations (i.e. panic attacks) amongst women, reflects their greater social and economic vulnerability as "defined" by the prevailing collective or social consciousness.

Some controversial studies indicate that the increase in violent or upsetting pictures and stories in news reports or entertainment could be significantly linked to raise the anxiety level in many individuals. Therefore, stress and anxiety management programs often suggest that we cut down our exposure to upsetting stimuli.

Anxiety may also be caused by environmental or occupational factors. Individuals who must live or work around unexpected or loud noises, bright or flashing lights, chemical vapours or similar nuisances - which cannot be avoided or controlled - may develop increased levels of anxiety.
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Stress 'overlook' no one, everybody - at some time or another - is confronted by stress.
Stress is a term or word which is used frequently in our modern day context to indicate "how" we experience most things in life. The word stress is mainly used to depict the following...
  1. Stress is state of mental or emotional strain or suspense, which
  2. develop into a a force that produces strain on the physical body and
  3. result in difficulty that causes worry or emotional tension.
Stress is our body's reaction to challenges and threats (whether real or perceived) of the world around us. Back in our evolutionary past, stress had a real survival value and stress enable us to either flee or combat threats from wild animals and our enemies. In modern times - however - stress can still be crucial in cases of an emergency, but usually stress (our reaction to "threats") merely produce unbelievable wear and tear on the body, mind and soul.

Because of the prominence of stress in our society today, there are many myths about stress that are floating around and of which the following is the most prominent...
  • Stress is an emotional upsetting psyche condition that can be resolved "by lowering" the emotional intensity experienced. Not true! Stress is the result of a stressor, which subsequently are responsible for upsetting feelings and emotions. By addressing or dealing with those feelings or emotions could initially "soften" stress, but to "cure" and heal, we needs to address and resolve the stressor.
  • All stress is bad for us. No! Without stress, we wouldn't be able to cope with life's problems and challenges. We have to respond to changes in our umwelt or environment and that inevitably involve some form of stress. Without the correct amount of stress (i.e. balanced within context) we would not be motivated to excel or experience the satisfaction of conquering problems and mastering challenges.
  • Everybody get stressed out by the same things. Not entirely accurate. Although certain stressors - indicated in the stress barometer - may very well cause some annoyance to most people, the extent and intensity of stress experienced will differ from person to person and situation to situation. We all respond (or rather, more often react) to events differently, because of our history, personality traits and past experiences. Some people adapt to certain kinds of stress and become used to it (e.g. traffic, noise, climate). While others find even the slightest annoyance to much.
  • Only the weak are target by stress, the strong can handle it. NO! Research - and there is plenty to choose from which have accumulated in recent years - shows that stress has a genuine effect on our mental well being and physical health. Excessive stress (no matter how "strong" we are) should be dealt with promptly, before it creates serious health issues. Stress has a real impact on our bio-energy system, NOT because we are weak, but because we are human.
  • There is a stress epidemic today. Ridiculous! Humans has always suffered from stress. As a matter of fact, the stressors that our ancestors faced in the past, were probably far greater and more life threatening than they are today - well at least in most of our civilized world - which includes stressors such as... to be eaten or killed by the food you hunt, hunger, wars, exposure to the elements of nature, ...etc. Today - despite progress and development - we are far more conscious of the phenomenon stress, we hear or read about it daily and are constantly bombarded with all kinds of "expert stress solutions". Unfortunately, most of our "stress solutions" deal mainly with the emotions or feelings resulting from stress and we are reluctant to address and deal with the stressor itself. In the past stress solutions was very simple... swiftly deal with the stressor or be "destroyed". In modern times - however - most stressors are actually camouflage as "little jackals" which are quite often regarded as "not really worthy" of our attention.
Stress is a short-term physiological response that aids us in the face of danger, which is hardly a suitable state in which to live or even regularly spend time. Indeed, to much stress is known to make us vulnerable to ill-health. To eliminate - or at least reduce - harmful stress from our lives, we must learn to put our anxieties (i.e. an accumulation of our fears) in perspective and above all... learn how to relax. For the latter, breathing techniques and muscle relaxing can go a long way to accomplish this.
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The human stress barometer is a natural human phenomenon, which has intrigue scientists for many years and - after plenty of painstakingly research done - very little is still known about the finer working mechanism of the human stress barometer. The intriguing functioning of our stress barometer would probably remain a mystery for some time yet to come, mainly because of the complex body-mind symbiosis which govern the “automatic” functioning of our stress barometer.

However, enough is already known about the human stress barometer to realize that we shouldn't take the functioning of our stress barometer for granted, because it...

  • filters - using a grading scale – our stressors to prioritise which should be dealt with immediately and which ones could “wait” to be dealt with on a later stage.
  • group or classify possible stressors to determine the most effective action or behaviour for the particular context of the situation.
  • co-direct and steer our “fight-&-flight” mechanism and identify alternatives or possibilities for appropriate actions to be taken.
  • prevent panic and inappropriate actions, that - when implemented - could increase the danger component of a situation or event.
  • has a direct access to our our bio-computer (i.e. our muscles, glands, etc.) to ready our bodies - in a fraction of a second - to take the necessary action.
It is pretty obvious that we no longer could afford to treat our stress barometer as something that just happens naturally and automatically as the years pass us by. We ought to be a tat more attentive to the way in which our stress barometer functions, especially because of our stress barometer's (i.e. how we deal with change and possible threats) symbiotic-synchronicity with our environmental noise filter (i.e. how we deal with environmental stimuli and their possible impact). Our stress barometer (& environmental filter) is at the very frontier of our harmonious interactions with the environment, and when changes occur (i.e. disturbances of our present comfort zone) we become stressed, which compel us to take action in an attempt to restore a harmonious environmental fit as soon as possible.

Based on research conducted - since the early 1960's - the “the life change unit scale” was developed in an approximate attempt to “measure” the impact of stressors on the psyche of an individual, described in terms of the changes needed to cope with “the new circumstances”. Although each person deals with stressors in his/her own unique way - based on his/her personality and experiences - it was determined that most people tend to have a fairly similar stressful experience with regards to the following “normal everyday” events...

EVENT
STRESS VALUE (in life change units%)
Death of a spouse
119
Divorce
98
Sexual abuse (family members & relatives)
95
Death of a close family member
92
Sexual abuse (strangers & outsiders)
85
Insomnia
80
Marital separation
79
Loss of a job (poorer economic conditions)
79
Business readjustment (poorer economic conditions) 78
Major personal injury or illness
77
Emotional and physical abuse
76
Going to prison
75
Death of a close friend
70
Change in financial state (less earnings)
70
Pregnancy
66
Infertility
60
Gaining a new family member (e.g. birth of a child)
57
Marital reconciliation
57
Change in health or behaviour of a family member
56
Foreclosure on mortgage
55
Retirement
54
Change to a different line of work
51
Marriage
50
Revision of personal position life (i.e. reflection)
49
Loss of job (better economic conditions)
47
Spouse begins or ends work
46
Change place of residence (family)
45
Child or children leaving home
44
Change in responsibilities at work
43
Change in number of arguments with spouse
40
Sexual difficulties
39
Business readjustment (better economic conditions)
39
Outstanding personal achievement
37
Change in work hours or conditions
36
Change in financial state (more earnings)
35
Change in living conditions
35
Starting a new school
35
Debt above R500,000
30
Christmas
30
Trouble with in-laws
30
Change in eating habits (e.g. going on a diet)
27
Change in sleeping patterns
26
Foreclosure on loans
25
Going on holiday
25
Trouble with manager or person in authority
24
Begin or completing school
23
Change place or residence (single)
20
Change schools
20
Change recreation activities
18
Debt below R500,000
17
Changing church and/or religion activities
15
Change in social activities
14
Change in the number of family "get-togethers"
12
Minor violations of the law
10

Please note that the above list is merely an extract of some daily events which are experienced by most people and that have a fairly similar stress value attached to it by most people questioned in this regard. This above stressor list is by now means complete - as a matter of fact, its not even close - and doesn't account for the majority of all possible stressors. For instance... it doesn't account for catastrophes (such as earth quakes, floods, tsunami's, etc.), nor does it account for traumatic events (such as rape, murder, war, aeroplane crashes, etc.) and previous experiences that an individual might have had with a specific stressor.

The goal of research wasn't to compile a comprehensive list of stressors. The purpose of research was to try and understand to some extend how the human stress barometer functions and it was "discovered" that all possible stressors are graded, prioritized and schedule for action (e.g. immediately or for the short, medium or long term) which is applicable to all stressors; both the stressors that we perceive as good/positive and stressors that we perceive as bad/negative. However, it seems that stressors that we tend to perceive as bad, increase our stress levels quite considerably, in comparison to stressors that we tend to perceive as good or acceptable.

Key All changes - the good, the bad and the ugly - are stressors that triggers stress, which in turn compels us to either take immediate action or delay our actions for the time being... depending whether we choose to confront or avoid dealing with conflict.


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