Anxiety. We all feel it sometimes. The big questions in life plague us: Why am I here? Why did this happen? What’s wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this today? Why can’t I just get happy? How in the world do I solve this? No biggie; just a momentary existential crisis; it will probably pass—or will it?
I’m no psychiatrist, just another person like you on the journey of life who tries to maintain some control and mental sanity. It’s hard though. There are so many things we have to navigate through—daily, and hardest of all simultaneously!
- Relationships with spouse, parents, children, co-workers
- Stress of job demands
- Stress of finances
- Prioritizing responsibilities—what can I reasonably accomplish today?
- Health concerns
- Spiritual dilemmas
As Madame Morrible states in the Broadway musical, Wicked, it’s easy to feel a bit despondiary. That’s because life can all be so confusifying! We deal with more and more situations and our feelings towards them with each passing day. We quickly learn our sands of time will run out much faster than reaching the solutions to all that ail us. Utopia doesn’t exist and nirvana rarely lasts more than a few minutes, a day at best, depending on what floats your boat.
Do you ever wake up feeling like Woody with the weight of the world on your shoulders? Wanting to be a pacifist in a world that demands you stand up and fight? Lamenting relationships that are far from perfect with those you love the most? How do you come to terms with your youth fleeting and the possibility of your life ending? What about the dreams you didn’t fulfill yet? What if you haven’t even clarified to yourself what your dreams even are? What if your time runs out?
Like Woody, we can get stuck in “analysis paralysis” and suddenly our feet feel like they are planted in cement, and our decision process feels about as stable as a ball trying to find 37 on a roulette wheel. We keep spinning, the world keeps on turning, but are we getting anywhere?
Yes, like Woody so candidly and humorously often illustrates in his movies, it’s easy to feel like this on a given day:
- Agorophobia – Fear of heights
- Atelophobic—Fear of being imperfect
- Autophobia – Fear of being alone
- Cacophobia – Fear of ugliness (also related: Catoptrophobia – Fear of mirrors)
- Claustrophobia – Fear of confined spaces
- Hypochondria – Fear of illness
- Nyctophobia – Fear of the dark
- Obesophobia – Fear of gaining weight
- Sociophobia – Fear of social evaluation
- Technophobia – Fear of technology
- Xenophobia – Fear of strangers or foreigners
Don’t laugh! There’s tons of phobias! You may even have some of these:
- Barophobi – Fear of gravity
- Coulrophobia – Fear of clowns
- Ephebiphobia – Fear of teenagers
- Porphyrophobia – Fear of the color purple
- Selenophobia – Fear of the moon
We’re afraid to fail in life, and sometimes we’re even more afraid to succeed. We spend too much time thinking about what we could have/should have done when thinking about the past as well as too much time thinking about what if related to the future.
So? What to do? Rush to the doctor and get a frontal lobotomy? Even if you’re not iatrophobic (afraid of doctors), you already know you can’t stop your thinking process. People can spend many hours and dollars trying to get to the bottom of what’s in their head.
I’m not convinced it can be done. I’m not sure we were designed to have all the answers. That’s why people with pedigrees have never impressed me that much. Yes, I’m amazed at what people specialize in as a profession, but in their personal lives, they are sometimes messier than less educated people. Sometimes a little bit of ignorance can be bliss.
Is there a way to move past thinking so much about things, and instead start doing things?
I’m convinced the answer is yes—sort of! We can’t eliminate that which bothers us or we don’t understand entirely. Instead we have to embrace it. Can you let your doubts sit beside your knowledge and what you have faith in, until they decide to get up and leave?
The realm of psychology and faith and science all claim to have answers and infinite books to explain. Only you know what works for you, but I’m convinced the mind grows on what you feed it! So feed it well! These things don’t work perfectly, but the more you combine them, the more likely life can improve.
- Run! (Walk, swim, or any form of physical exercise) – NOT AN OPTION in life! Hormones, weight, and especially thoughts come into balance and focus when we exercise!
- Eat Healthier – You know this. More veggies, fruits, less processed food, less fat and sugar, healthy protein choices. It’s true you are what you eat. I find if I eat according to what I believe, I have more peace and don’t feel as guilty about my choices. For everyone that’s different, but start eating with awareness of your beliefs regarding food.
- Sleep! Oh, it sounds so simple. But trying to establish a regular bedtime and adequate sleep time is essential. Everyone is different. Not enough you’ll be a bear. But I find, if I get too much, I’m a bear. I want so much out of life, and I find I can be optimally happy with about 5-6 hours IF I’m eating, exercising, and utilizing my faith simultaneously.
- Find something to do that you love! Hobbies or things that give you joy are as essential as oxygen! For me reading a great book, falling into the sound of music that I love restores my soul. Do not rob yourself of finding something you love. Make time to do it! Schedule it!
- Find Faith. Life is long; trying to exist only on reason can be complicated indeed. I’m not knocking people that do, I’m just saying for me, and many people, too much in life is mysterious, and if I had to have a concrete explanation for it all, I would go out of my mind. But faith is a verb, it doesn’t work well, if you simply want it to exist in your head. You have to put it in action,otherwise it’s just a bunch of words.
- Identify and eliminate the toxins in your life. You already know if you drink, smoke, or put other toxins in your body too much. So I won’t lecture you! Know the difference between moderate and abuse is all I’m saying. Know whether or not you’d be better off if you totally abstained. Enjoyment and enslavement are too different things.
- Equally important: Learn to eliminate toxic people! Walk away from an argument. You don’t have to prove you are right. You only have to have peace with who you are, you don’t have to change others to think like you do. If you are exercising faith, this becomes easier because you don’t have to figure other people out or fix them, only you.
- Accept life on life’s terms not yours. We all die. We all suffer. We all lose sometimes. Life is not fair. Once you can accept that, and move past having to know why, you can focus on how you can LIVE your life now without wasting precious energy and thoughts on that which can’t be explained.
- Be thankful and loving! It’s true, if you can wake up and first thing focus on all there is that is right in your life and the world, it sets the perspective for how you will go out and view the world today. Treat others with kindness and a loving heart.
No one is perfect and no one is completely without fear at all times. Embrace your fears, but don’t let them define you.
Love yourself enough to embrace life, and make right choices until they become habit!
And finally, a lesson from Woody: Lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself!
From Love and Death – A scene with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton:
Boris: Murder’s immoral.
Sonja: Immorality is subjective.
Boris: Yes, but subjectivity is objective.
Sonja: Not in any rational scheme of perception.
Boris: Perception is irrational. It implies imminence.
Sonja: But judgment of any system of phenomena exists in any rational, metaphysical or epistemological contradiction to an abstracted empirical concept such as being, or to be, or to occur in the thing itself, or of the thing itself.
Boris: … Yeah, I’ve said that many times.
Sonja: Boris, we must be believe in God!
Boris: If I could just see a miracle. Just one miracle! A burning bush, or the seas part, or my Uncle Sasha pick up the check!
Scene from Love and Death: