If you’ve never felt Anxiety in our life, then your either blessed or you have a very special brain, I admire you and at the same time I am slightly jealous because anxiety is something that’s plagued my life but at the same time is something I’m learning to control. And something you can too.
I remember certain points in my life when things changed and that cold sweat would loom its dark head. The body cramps, the fidgets, that hollow feeling in your stomach and the endless panic! Such a fucked up feeling when dread and fear take over and nothing makes sense. I’ve discussed the feeling of Anxiety in a previous post, however, I’d like to delve a little deeper and give you some advice on how to cope with any anxieties you currently have as well as give you some coping mechanisms to put your mind at rest.
What is Anxiety?
You know what it is but when we see things written out in front of us sometimes we can process what actually going on better.
Anxiety Is a feeling of worry, a feeling of catastrophe, a feeling of pure fear. It’s that feeling you get when you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. It manifests itself in your body in different ways. Feeling dizzy, nauseous, itchy, our bodies become a shadow of our former selves and we can’t figure out why we feel this way! The endless search in that brain box isn’t throwing up the answers.
What are you thinking?
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you what you’re thinking in an aggressive manner, in fact, it’s the polar opposite. Anxiety usually manifests it’s self when we start to think about the future. Let’s try something for a second and see if we can make the connection. Hopefully, this will work if you’re currently feeling anxious.
I want you to write down what you’re currently worried about. Write it on a piece of paper if you can. When we write things the old fashioned way we not only actively engage our physical body, but we bring it to the physical world, it’s not just a digital projection on a screen. That’s important because we are coming outside ourselves for a brief moment. Write down one thing you’re worried about.
So two things possibly happened if you engaged in the extracurricular activity. You either wrote down something you were depressed about, which we can discuss another time, or you wrote down something that hasn’t happened yet. There’s a possible third option where you didn’t write down anything and in that scenario, you maybe a lot further along than you thought.
So we have our worry in front of us, it’s literally in black and white now and we can see it in its true ugliness. You ugly little bastard! Get on out of here! What does it say? I’m worried that he/she is going to leave me? I’m worried that I have no money? I’m worried I’m going to die! I’m not discrediting your current worry. I’m asking you to read it and acknowledge its existence because in this moment it’s real and it matters, but it doesn’t have to matter for long.
Hopefully, you noticed when you wrote down your worry that it was something that hasn’t happened yet. It’s something that you have been thinking about that doesn’t exist in the physical world. There’s also a chance that you’re telling yourself, “It might not exist yet, but it’s going to…” You don’t know that and it’s only something you’re convincing yourself of.
I keep talking about the physical world which is the opposite of the ones we live in our heads. The one in our head is the internal world. The one where all our darkest fears and anxieties truly live. They don’t have to be dark and they don’t have to be in our head. The writing down of our fears brings them into the physical world, not only gives that opportunity of acknowledgment but a chance to tackle them and make some changes on the inside and out.
Give me next weeks’ lottery numbers.
I make this statement in a previous post because of the sheer insanity of it. If you can accurately give them to me, I’ll delete this website and I’ll give you half the winnings! I’m going to need half to try and start a new venture. In fact, this sentence can sometimes be used to ground ourselves because it can validate the next point I’m about to make.
We don’t know the future. We just don’t, it that simple! We can pretend we do and we can use past experiences to try and find the outcomes to sometimes alarming extents. We can forecast, future gaze and write down a 10-point plan that’s going to give us every outcome of any given situation, but let’s face it, we really don’t know what’s coming next.
Actions that happened in the past can sometimes fuel our future anxieties. “That person cheated on me back then, so this person is going to do the same!”, “I got fired from that job, I’m going to get fired from this one too!”. Yeah those things happened, certain choices you made may have led to those outcomes, but by using those past experiences to fuel those future anxieties you’re only dooming yourself to conclusions that haven’t happened. Our minds have a terrible habit of using bad experiences of our own or others to try and give us a hint of what’s to come. As stated before. Give me next weeks’ lottery numbers and I’ll shit the hell up! You can’t predict the future, stop trying to convince yourself.
Why you’re worried
There maybe many reasons your worried but let’s look at the why? Your ego is trying to cushion its self from any future pain you might be about to walk into. Your ego is your sense of self and let’s get real for a moment, no one likes a bruised ego, no one. Your ego is everything you identify with and the mind, just like the body will try and protect itself from any harm that comes’s its way. Ego isn’t something that we just use when we are flexing about accomplishments, conquests, and fulfillment. Ego is us! Here is a definition I’ve stolen from google to illustrate this point.
“the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.”
It’s our personal identity that is the driving force behind of action we take and we mitigate that by using our minds to make judgments, reflect and even try and predict certain outcomes of situations. Good and Bad.
“That guy at the gym stole that piece of equipment from me! He’s made me look like a fool! Everybody saw it! What if someone else tries to do the same?”
That last first part of the statement is Anger, the question at the end is my anxiety. I’m worried because my ego has been damaged in front of my fellow man and I don’t want to seem inferior. My sense of self took a gut punch and now I’m feeling anxious about the situation because I’m trying to predict if it’s going to happen again. I’m future gazing to cushion my ego and try and come up with a scenario where my sense of self can take control and I can become dominant so I don’t look like a fool again. Now there comes a point in this instance where we have to look at some fundamental truths.
1.) That guy did that to appease his own ego and sense of dominance, that’s his problem.
2.) No one died, people do what they do, I have no control over that.
3.) I can’t let my own insecurities about being a man in this environment overtake the task at hand.
4.) I don’t know if that will happen again, but if it does I can only act assertively and deal with it then, not now.
This instance doesn’t apply to all of our worries, but from it, we can see from is it our egos can play a big part in fueling the fires of things we worry about. Your anxiety will never go away if you can’t understand that it measures itself by ego, societal values and sometimes even instinct. That need to protect its self. By societal values I mean how we measure ourselves by what we are taught is the order of things, something I plan to explore in future, but for now please understand your worries are mitigated by threats to your ego and you’re trying to save it. We expect the worse to prepare for when the outcomes arrive.
This is also something I have touched upon in a previous post and the hardest part of dealing with our anxieties. Even though the truth about how we act and feel can sometimes instantly forget, our mind returns back to those familiar patterns of life ending thoughts. I know I’m guilty of that. Reading and learning things then instantly choosing to not accept them and retreat back to a fearful state. It’s human nature, we stick to what we are comfortable with. Good and the bad. I’ve used that statement before “Good and the Bad” and I’ll give you a basic example of sticking with something bad because it’s comfortable.
I used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day even though I knew it was bad for me. I did this because smoking was my comfort blanket, it allowed me to get out of situations I didn’t want to be in and gave me pause for thought on how I was going to handle future situations, as well as ruminate on the past but that’s a different story. I struggled to quit smoking because of the uncertainty of what was to come (and my body was physically addicted to nicotine). “How would I handle it?” “What am I going to do to fill the time?” “What if I relapse?” “What can I use as a comfort blanket?” I couldn’t accept what was to come next because I was so uncertain, I also stuck with it because it was comfortable.
We live in such uncertainty in every ounce of passing life, it’s kind of what makes life good at the same time, not knowing what going to happen next. Anticipations of meeting a potential new partner, trying that new experience and future feeling what it’s going to be like! Sometimes uncertainty can be bliss! I get excited about new films coming out with my favorite actors in or directed by a certain person because I love trying to figure out what’s to come! But then I’m disappointed when I don’t see the film I anticipated in my head. This is because I’ve tried to predict the future and I’ve failed to acknowledge that the future is uncertain.
So how do we accept that uncertain future? We have to ground ourselves. I’m not talking about planting our asses on the floor, I’m talking about bringing ourselves back to the moment we are in right now. We have to tell ourselves that we just simply “Don’t know!” because we don’t, we really don’t. We have to tell ourselves that we can’t predict those lottery numbers, or we don’t know how that job interviews going to go, or we don’t know the twists and turns of everyday life. Tell yourself you accept the uncertainty and drill it in. Don’t punish yourself with it, just sit with it and the more you do, the more comfortable you can become with that unknown. What other choice do we have?
With our anxieties we sometimes find ourselves floating away into the clouds of our brain. Like a balloon full of negative air that suffocates us the higher up we go. It’s time to pop that balloon and return to earth! Do you remember when you were a kid and you were excited about something? That new toy? That day out? That moment where something amazing was happening and nothing else in the world mattered. A childlike sense of abandonment where you were full of pure joy and nothing else mattered? That’s because you were in that moment, you lived it so vividly nothing else had your concentration other than that moment! you were grounded. You can have it again.
Grounding yourself comes from being in the moment. Even if that moment is a terrible one we have to find something positive from it to bring ourselves back down to earth. A good example of this is using nature for instance. It’s noticing how the trees blow in the wind, seeing the leaves move and dance down the pathway, hearing those birds sing and following their tune, taking that deep breath and concentrating on it. Breathing helps, it really does. Concentrating on it lets us know we’re still here.
Do you ever notice yourself taking a big breath then exhaling slowly when you’re stressed? That’s your body trying to return itself to its natural harmonious state. Your subconsciously breathing heavy to try and return back to normal. Your body is stressed and want’s to feel at ease. Breath, just breath. I went to a meditation class a few times and was expecting to be sat legs folded, elbow on knee’s pinching my fingers together like I was some new age hippy. That wasn’t what it was about in the slightest. It was just learning to breathe again. Learning to breathe when we are anxious not only gives us something to distract ourselves from our thoughts but it allows our body to return to its present comfortable state. So, in essence, we can ground ourselves by breathing, acknowledge what’s going on around us and see it for what it really is, even those bad situations.
There’s a reason for the question mark. Chances are you still feel anxious, things don’t change overnight and these words may not have given you everything you were searching for on the quest for comfort. This article was never designed to cure you; I can’t promise you a cure because I don’t have one. That’s not to say you should give up, you can’t give up. This articles intent more than anything is to give some rationale behind the way you think and feel, why these thoughts overtake us and how we can take positive steps towards challenging ourselves to change. I’d like to briefly go over some of the points we have talked about so going forward we can tackle our anxieties and hopefully lay them to rest.
Anxiety Is that feeling of worry, panic, and fear we sometimes feel when we feel like we have lost control.
Our thoughts are the main contributing factors to all of our anxieties, in part, our thoughts and feelings are connected. I think this horrible thing; I feel this horrible way.
We can’t predict the future, we convince ourselves we can to try and cushion the blow our egos might potentially take.
Our egos fuel our anxieties because we measure ourselves by our sense of self, what is right and wrong, how we look and feel. If we let our ego’s rule our future gazing, this coincides with how we feel when we’re looking to unwritten futures.
We have to accept uncertainty. Uncertainty is not only our biggest fear but it can also be our biggest ally. What comes next could be good! We have to accept that we don’t know what’s next. If you do, tell me those lottery numbers.
Ground yourself. When we feel the feelings of anxiety we have to take action fast and bring ourselves back to earth. We can do this with the simplest of things. We can breathe and let our bodies return to their relaxed state. We can use our surroundings and concentrate on things around us. When we live in our heads it can be dark and terrifying, when we live on the outside we can be part of the world and live forever now.
The reason for the original question mark is because I’m asking you! If you can take small steps to understanding what we have discussed we can make that change, but we have to do it ourselves. We have to take the reins and steer the ship towards uncertain horizons and be okay with what comes next. What choice do we really have? I believe in you, now believe in yourself.
Personal notes: Whenever I feel anxieties head loom large I take the following actions. I take a deep breath and let it leave my lungs. I challenge my ego with the simple buzz word “Ego” to let myself know my subconscious is trying to fuel any future anxieties, then I ask myself them lottery numbers to understand I don’t know what’s next…Then I smile. Thank you for reading, all of this article is formed from personal experience and things I’ve read and picked up along the way. Leave a comment or contact me for any resources.