Mental tools to combat day-to-day anxiety, like a superhero!
Overview: In the first half of the blog I have explained the psychological dynamics of anxiety. In the second half, I have mentioned the mental tools to deal with anxiety. So, if you think you know the why’s and how’s of anxiety you can skip to the ‘Control is Essential’ section.
Let me tell you something interesting about you. Don’t worry I’m not trying to be a psychic, I’m just revealing one of your core desire. You, my reader, are addicted to control. You always want to have control over your life and the life of people around you. If you are like most people you regularly complain if only the world could think or act in a certain way, if only they could understand a certain concept. Most of us think we know the best about how society should think and what they should believe in and what they shouldn’t.
We will talk about the control we try to establish over society in the next blog. Today we will analyze our lust for control over our own lives, and what’s good and bad about it.
In this blog, I’m going to tell you how you never have absolute control over your life.
The Complex Network of Human Society
Based on the level of complexity, there are four different kinds of systems, these are my metrics to explain this concept better.
Level 0: a society where there is only a single living creature who is solely affected by his actions and not by its surrounding.
Level 1: a society with a single living creature who is affected by his actions and also the environment it is kept in, unlike a level 0 society.
Level 2: a society where one creature is affected by his actions, the environment, and the creatures it interacts with.
Level 3: a society where one creature is affected by his actions, the environment, and by its peers with whom it may not even interact.
The human society is on level 3. People with who we may not have interacted can also have a great impact on our lives. Our society is complex, actions that I take today may benefit someone who is not even aware of those actions.
An angry bus driver who had a heated argument with her wife in the morning can cause harm to the lives of over 50 people traveling with him. And the news of an accident like that will probably upset you so much that you end up yelling at your boss out of frustration, who in turn fires you from the company, which may keep you unemployed for years and to regain your financial stability you start your business which flourishes over time and makes you a multi-millionaire.
The point I’m trying to make is that you have a little control over your life, at least less than how much you think you have.
Anxiety is a Desire for Control
You know when Budhha said attachment is the cause of all suffering, he was right. Similarly, our attachment toward control and order in this chaotic world is the cause of suffering called anxiety.
When things go out of control, we panic. Think about the last thing you were anxious about and you will find that either it was something that wasn’t in your control or there was some level of uncertainty involved in that thought.
You are upset that your father doesn’t think good about you. Now here, you have no control over what and how he thinks. This lack of control over what others think about you is pretty stressful.
You have a test tomorrow and you haven’t prepared for it, now you are worried that you may not get good grades in your test. Again, the lack of control over the grades you will get is the reason behind your anxiety.
You have just passed out of your high school and now you’re worried about college and career. Again, the uncertainty about the future of your professional life is the root cause of your anxiety.
The point here is that we want to control and certainty over our life, and when met with a slight ambiguity, we panic. Notice one very important thing that is common among all the examples I discussed above. In all those cases you try to control the outcome and you’re barely focused on the process. For example, you will be more concerned about getting good grades rather than thinking about how should study to get good grades.
You want control over the outcomes more than you want control over the process.
Keep this in mind, because we are going to elaborate upon this point. And this is where all the solution to your anxiety lies, all the mental tools and the mind hacks.
Control is Essential
Before you start thinking that I want you to leave everything and renunciate your life and job to lose all your control over your life, let me tell you one important thing. Control is important. It is essential for survival. If humans didn’t have this desire for control, our society would have been long dead.
I agree that we don’t have much control over our lives yet the decisions we make play the most pivotal part in our life. Those decisions are in our control (or are they?).
The problem is not that you desire to control your life. The problem with you dear thinker is that you always try to control the outcome and not the process. Once you shift your focus from the outcome to the process, your stress will evaporate and your prediction about the outcome will start improving.
Control the Process
Now, what do I mean by controlling the process? Let’s talk about it.
When we are stressed about something, either we are worried that something bad will happen or something bad is already happening. In both cases, we’re stressed when keep thinking about what’s happening and we are free when we think about the actions that can act as an escape out of that situation.
The first step is to face your anxiety, sit straight, and think about what’s causing it. Sometimes you might be running away from those things.
You cannot win the war if you cannot even face your enemy.
The second step is to understand whether you can control something or not. Because you have to understand my friend, you cannot control everything that happens to you. So, step 2 is to ask yourself: can I control this situation?
If it’s a no, surrender into the acceptance that you have no control over anything. If it’s a yes, act!
Act upon the things you can control, meditate for things you can’t.
The third step is to either meditate or create an action plan. If you are stressed that your father thinks less of you, ask yourself honestly, whether his concern is justified or not. Maybe he just doesn’t understand what you are doing, or maybe you are actually not doing anything productive.
Look right into the eyes of your problems and have a conversation with them, as if they are listening to you. I call it, healthy schizophrenia.
Another very interesting practice called the 3 Whys is very helpful in figuring out the root cause of your anxiety. It’s like asking the reason behind the reason for the main reason you’re anxious. It may sound a bit complex but we will discuss it soon in our newsletter.
The last, very important practice is Anti-meditation. You might be wondering why did I give it such an unusual name? Well, everything that you need to know about Anti-meditation, is mentioned in a previous blog of mine.
Important Note: I’m not a mental health expert, and I have no formal degree in psychology. So, maybe your problems might out of the scope of my blog. All that I’ve mentioned above is helpful for the day-to-day stress and anxiety one goes through. If you think your problem is more serious than all this, I highly recommend you reach out to a psychologist.
I would be more than happy to help you if you want to talk about something. Drop me a mail anytime.
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