The busyness of our modern lifestyle ensures that we are not even aware of something as omnipresent as the humming of an air conditioner — background noise of low intensity — until it stops. That’s a clear sign of our long-term conditioning.
Something that is accepted as an inevitable part of our normal life — just as we have learned to live with a certain level of constant discontent and unease.
All forms of negative emotions — anxiety, tension, stress, worry — is nothing but the socially acceptable form of mental illness.
They are primarily caused by spending too much of our time in past or future while neglecting the present. As a result, it ends up enervating today of all its strength and joy.
There is an unconscious attempt on our part to address this background of constant anxiety through use and abuse of various stimulants like — alcohol, drugs, mobile, work, food, television, travel, compulsive shopping.
In the long run, it often succeeds in desensitizing you to such an extent that you never gather the courage to find out the real causes behind that constant unease.
Moving Beyond Evolutionary Default
Tapping into the true wisdom of unconscious mind is only possible if you can slow down the constant analytical humming of your brain.
We are biologically hardwired for fight or flight instinct. Despite million years of evolutionary changes it is virtually impossible to switch this off because this constant anxiety has proved itself an excellent survival strategy for all of us.
However, the level of anxiety present in our modern life is no longer proportional to the actual threat to the life itself. The threat of saber-toothed prowling tiger is replaced by the deadline for an important presentation.
But our body fails to differentiate between the two and responds with the same level of stress. This constant stimulation — where everything is perceived to be a threat to life — causes a high level of toxic stress chemicals to accumulate in our blood.
There is a very high probability that this perpetual anxiety may lead to chronic stress — capable of taking years off your life. But then we often prefer to just sleepwalk through life guided by our default automatic behaviors.
Common Manifestations of Anxiety
Fear of love and belonging
We always want to fully experience love and belonging, however, we often fail to believe that we are worthy of it. This dichotomy is making things much more complicated than what it actually is.
Fear of not living up to your true potential
For some reason, if you are stuck in a job you are not passionate about, your resistance and unwillingness are making the present worse than what it actually is. Not only that, your inability to find your true passion is making you work much below your true potential.
Fear of failure
It’s not failures — real or imagined — that creates discontent within us. It’s investment in our pride and sense of worth in a given achievement and our inability to get what we wanted that triggers a sense of discontent that ends up denting our self-esteem. And any anticipated attack on our self-esteem in any form makes us anxious most of the time. This is quite beautifully explained by Jean-Jacques Rousseau:
“Every time we see something we cannot afford, we grow poorer, whatever our resources. And every time we feel satisfied with what we have, we can be counted as rich, however little we may actually own.”
Fear of uncertainty
our minds are conditioned to appreciate the certainty. We love stability in our life; so much so that we become stressed at the very thought of uncertainty in any form. The moment we foresee any loss in our control, we become way too apprehensive about the outcome. We often try our level best to cope up with this uncertainty by making an endless to-do list, finding that perfect productivity app, or mindless consumption of television and smartphone.
Fear of being left out
Our default response to never-ending mobile notifications is a clear indicator that we fear the possibility of missing out. There is an evolutionary urge to fit in — a sense of belonging to our identified tribe. Connecting with the people — even at the very superficial level — makes us proud of our insignificant existence.
Fear of wasting precious time
Our distraction to smartphone is so rampant we even keep denying the pathological presence of this widespread addiction. In fact, this addiction is just a coping mechanism for dissatisfaction with the present moment. As a consequence, we keep blaming us for not taking advantage of all those opportunities that were always there in front of us.
Parting Thoughts: The Way
As soon as you learn to witness your thoughts and emotions, you bring more awareness to your present. As a result, the level of unease within you will start becoming more visible.
As soon as you bring consciousness into your deep-seated discontent and unease, it will start dissolving.
These simple questions should help you in bringing consciousness back into presence by thoroughly examining your present mental and emotional state:
How am I feeling right now?
What’s going on inside me?
Is there any tension?
Am I lost in my thoughts?
Am I being constantly distracted by outside stimulants?
As soon as you direct your attention inward, the outside will start falling into its right place. Not only that, your constant unease and discontent would get detected more often with a little bit of practice and persistence.
You will soon start identifying the root cause of your resistance and unwillingness. Finally realizing that you are much more than your conditioned reflexes, where you are no longer pursuing anxiety as a way of survival.
You do have a choice to see things through the prism of your presence, instead of seeing it through the default lens of your past and future.