Your Guide to Finding PeaceFreedom is instantaneous the moment we accept things as they are. ~Karen Maezen Miller
This morning, as I absentmindedly watched the news while returning hoards of neglected emails and tweeting like mad, a story about anxiety caught my attention.
According to the story, anxiety has become the “most common of psychological complaints,” affecting three in 10 Americans on a regular basis.
The man featured in the story had been racked with anxiety for years, spurred, he believes, by the traumatic experience of attending college and compounding every year since.
For him it almost ruined his relationship with his now-wife and continues to disrupt both his sleeping and waking life every day.
This is typical line of thought for him:
“I am anxious. The anxiety makes it impossible to concentrate. Because it is impossible to concentrate, I will make an unforgivable mistake at work. Because I will make an unforgivable mistake at work, I will be fired. Because I will be fired, I will not be able to pay my rent…”
Reading it now, it sounds like madness. None of it makes any logical sense, yet I recognize the thought pattern.
My mind is guilty of creating the same kind of domino effect, predicting great tragedy and upset nearly every day of my life — especially when I feel the turmoil of things being unsettled and up in the air.
Constant State of Tension
In less than one month I’ll be forced to stomach several planned and unplanned life changes — some that will likely have a happy ending and others that I fear will not.
Not knowing the specifics (down to the very last detail) of how things will turn out has created an endless stream of “what ifs,” many of which I’m sure are not nearly as unpleasant as what the reality will actually be.
I have faith in theory but not necessarily in practice and have somehow convinced myself that this worry is preparing me for what is to come. In truth, my body doesn’t know the difference between what is and isn’t happening, so it’s in a constant state of tension, fixed on a shaky limb between fight or flight.
And in expecting the worse, I’ve made this in-between stage, one that could actually be somewhat exciting, literally unbearable. I’ve successfully closed out any excess room I had for positivity to plant a seed and grow.
How often do we all do this? Take a chance for change and transform it into something ugly and undesirable, simply because we don’t have an understanding of what will happen next?
Anything But Logical
In the book The Presence Process by Michael Brown, he discusses the mind’s power in convincing us that change is “bad” or “wrong:”
“The mind does not approve of change at all! It encourages it and even willingly comes to our aid in suggesting the many wonderful and inventive ways in which we can employ to change the quality of our present circumstances.
Yet the moment we really attempt any of these suggestions and start to activate change in our life experience, the mind will play another tune.
The moment our experience become unfamiliar, the mind will inject our thoughts with words like, ‘bad,’ ‘wrong,’ ‘dangerous,’ to feel afraid and the fear will then cause us to doubt and question the new direction in which we are moving.”
We believe that anxiety and fear are generated from our logical mind, but more often than not, our mind is anything but logical.
Instead, we must know that the very fact that things are unfolding the way that they are suggests that this is exactly how it was meant to happen, and stand firm in the knowledge that no amount of worrying or anxiety is able to turn the tide of change.
Finding a place of peace helps facilitate change so that it happens calmly and effortlessly — making any situation seem less dire and life-ending than if it were to be riddled with negative expectation.
Here are four ways that I’ve found peace and released some of the worry.
1. Know Your Work is Done
Once you’ve reached a place where there is nothing in the physical world you can do to facilitate change or remedy a situation, give yourself permission to stand back and let the Universe do its work.
Become an observer and you’ll start to see the lessons in the situation, instead of wrestling with the overbearing attachment you have to what happens next.
2. Find the Root of the Emotion
Often times we are fearful of how things will unfold because we are trying desperately to not repeat a past experience that we found to be particularly painful.
Instead of avoiding that feeling, go back to the experience that you are working to keep covered. Sit with it, explore it until it doesn’t hold the same emotional charge as it did before.
For me this dispels at least some of the fear I have associated with a certain event or occurrence.
3. Release Your Resistance
Anytime we experience unrest or fear about the future, it’s usually because we are resistant to it — resistant to change, resistant to a feeling, etc.
Resistance creates a great deal of turmoil in our mind and body. It’s always best to accept things as they are right now, in this moment. Try to take it a step further and be grateful for your current situation, even if it’s smack dab in the middle of uncertainty.
4. Participate in the Now
Future thinking could be a full-time job if we allowed it to be.
Find a distraction to get your mind out of the future and into the now. Your mind will try to convince you that it’s more productive to sit and worry, but I assure you it’s not.
Spend time with people interested in talking about things completely unrelated to what will happen to you tomorrow, next month or ten years from now. The truth is, it will all happen regardless of whether you talk about it or not.
When life is unsettled, it can be easy to want to run away from it, into anxiety and worry, as if that will somehow solve something. Finding a place of peace within yourself during a time like this will help you to grow as well as enjoy it.
What are some tips you have for dealing with worry and anxiety around change?