Hey you. Let’s have a little chat about anxiety, just you and I.
Did seeing the word “Anxiety” in big, bold letters in the title freak you out just a bit? Yes? This post is for you, my friend.
I have anxiety. I think everyone does. If they tell you they don’t, they are full of shit, mixed with anxiety. I have recently started studying the human brain through Neuroscience, Psychology and Buddhism to get a better understanding of it so I can take control of the situation.
Anxiety is not fun. Its not fun for the human experiencing it and its not fun for the humans around the human experiencing it.
So in the interest of making us all feel good, let me sum up some of the things I have learned thus far…
We are all delusional.
Yes, yes you are. I learned this from my Buddhism & Modern Psychology course on Coursera, taught by Robert Wright — who is an amazing teacher. He has this dry wit and dead pan delivery that just makes the whole thing worth while.
In addition to his wonderful sense of humor, he uses personification of Natural Selection to make it just a little more relatable. I’m only on the second week and its already changed things for me. One of his main points thus far is that our brains evolved to get us to do things to survive, Natural Selection does this. We are basically Natural Selection’s bitch at this point in human evolution. Natural Selection doesn’t care if what we think is true, as long as it gets us to do what we need to survive…so don’t believe everything you think!
Most of what you think is in your head. What is going on in the head of the person near you (or that boy/girl/coworker you are freaking out about) is NOT EVEN CLOSE to what is going on in yours.
Life is suffering and we are the cause of it.
Also learned from the same course. This is a loose summary of the first two noble truths of Buddhism. Mostly life is suffering because we focus on getting that next thing that will make us happy — all…the…time. When, if we focused on the thing that is happening right now and how cool it is we would just BE happy not constantly trying to BECOME happy.
No seriously, just stop. Yeah, yeah I know its not easy. Believe me, I KNOW! I am writing this post because I was awake most of the night with anxiety over some stupid email that I probably completely misinterpreted. It happens.
Find a friend who has anxiety. I have several. We have our own little anxiety club. When I feel anxious, I send a text to them and tell them I’m anxious just so I don’t message/email/call someone I will regret contacting when I CTFD (Calm the fuck down).
Create a self communication strategy. I repeat that last bold phrase in my head “Life is suffering and we are the cause of it”. When I hear this phrase and really think it through it makes me think — “If I am the cause of it, I can stop it!”. The answer to that question is yes, yes you can. You have power my friend, ultimate power. Global domination power.
Meditate. I’m just getting started doing this and I pretty much suck at it but you know what? Having anxiety over doing meditation correctly is just silly. You can’t do it wrong. Think about something nice that makes you happy. A flower. The beach. Your duvet.
Mindfulness. Watch and observe your brain (because it is not to be trusted!!) and when it veers into some ridiculousness, steer it back. Just keep doing it over and over and soon it will be easy.
One trick I have employed for more power over my thoughts and feelings is to think of my brain in the third person — as if it is its own entity separate from myself. This allows me to observe and evaluate the thoughts and feelings that are generated, assess their usefulness and choose whether to hang onto them or let them pass. It doesn’t work all the time but the more I do it, the easier it gets.
That’s all I got for today. I hope this helped you fellow human. Go in peace.