Anxiety isn’t a fun thing to deal with.
But… I’ve become pretty intimately acquainted with it as of late, which is actually kind of a ‘new thing’ for me.
(Disclaimer: this post isn’t intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any mental illnesses. I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I’m speaking only from my own personal experiences, and understand that my experiences with anxiety are probably different from the experiences of others.
Take this post with a grain of salt. If you find something useful, awesome. If not, that’s fine. Anxiety is a real and serious problem for some people, and I would always recommend counseling to anyone who may be dealing with it.
With that said, in this post, I’m going to share some things I’ve learned about my own battles with anxiety. Maybe something in this post will help you.)
To be honest, I never used to deal with anxiety.
I’ve always been a pretty confident and secure guy as far as that goes.
I mean, I wasn’t necessarily confident in an over-arching sense in regards to myself. But as a younger man, I was always kind of ‘blissfully ignorant’ of how wrong things could go.
When my life tanked back in 2017, I started to understand how difficult anxiety can be to cope with.
Before then, I’d never really dealt with it.
But when my life all came crashing down, and when I was forced to start over again, I realized the impact that anxiety can have on your life and well-being.
And I was left with a rather unique problem.
How do I stop anxiety in my own life, when I wasn’t even accustomed to dealing with it on a daily basis?
In this post, I’m going to go on a bit of a ‘rant’ about some things I’ve learned about anxiety recently.
Let’s dive in.
Lately, I’ve Gotten A Crash Course In How To Deal With Anxiety, On A Daily Basis
And the number one lesson I’ve learned is this:
Stop leading yourself into it.
I understand that this thought may seem callous and unfeeling.
But I assure you that it’s not.
I have a lot of empathy for people who deal with anxiety, now that I deal with it on a regular basis (it’s still crazy to hear myself admit that).
But I’ve also noticed a trend in my own life.
Since becoming aware of just how much power I have to either create a successful life for myself, or to create an unsuccessful life, I’ve realized that the biggest sources of my anxiety are the situations I allow myself to be put into.
Let Me Explain What I Mean By This…
As I get older, I get wiser.
As I make mistakes, I learn valuable lessons.
And every so often, I make a new mistake.
These mistakes are not only painful in the present, but cause further pain and anxiety down the line.
Because when you learn to look ahead in life and plan for the future, you realize that the mistakes you make today can have far-reaching implications, 1, 5, or even 10 years down the road.
I think that, on a rational level, most people understand this.
But I don’t think that most humans (and I have been guilty of this as well) are very good at getting into the habit of using this ‘skill’ of pre-meditation on a consistently beneficial basis.
I also think that a lot of people specifically ignore this, because they don’t want to face the source of their anxiety.
Let Me Tell You A Story…
Last year, I made a decision with a business client about some work I was doing on their website.
Now, looking back on it, I feel anxious that I may have made some decisions that weren’t the best.
But here’s the issue.
Fixing the problem now, a year later, is a lot more difficult than it would have been if I would have just fixed the problem back when I first encountered it.
But see, there are two parts to this.
On one hand, I partly made the mistake out of ignorance.
To a certain extent, I didn’t really understand that the mistake was a mistake.
But on the other hand, there was a part of me that didn’t feel quite right about how the project unfolded.
But I chose to ignore this uneasy feeling out of a desire to see the project move forward without conflict.
See, A Lot Of This Comes Down To Conflict Avoidance
If my 34 years on this planet have taught me anything, it’s that nothing will cause as much anxiety in the future as the conflict I choose to avoid today.
When we sacrifice our future peace upon the altar of a zero-conflict world model because it feels good to do so in the present, we choose to become slaves to the anxiety and fear that those ‘problems’ will give birth to in the future.
I once heard a really good quote:
“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
There’s another quote that delves even deeper into this.
“Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.” – Eckhart Tolle
I Say All Of This To Say That When It Comes To Anxiety, The Best Way To Prevent It Is To Try To Make Choices That Don’t Lead Us Into It
Here are some tips for making that happen.
1. Stop compromising on things you feel uneasy about.
2. Plant your feet firmly, and stand-up for what you believe is right.
3. Be ready to walk away from anyone who persists in asking you to compromise on your values.
4. Be relentlessly unafraid to say no, even to the smallest things that bother you or scrape against the outer fringes of your conscience.
5. Don’t cave-in to pressure or compromise on your values to avoid conflict.
6. Learn to embrace conflict for what it is… a small problem now that will save you from much bigger problems down the road.
Obviously, There’s A Certain Amount Of Anxiety That We Just Have To Cope With
There’s no way to stave off 100% of our concern for the future.
We are human, after all.
And as humans, we must learn to recognize that there’s going to be a certain amount of suffering in our lives.
But we can also help ourselves a lot… by choosing not to avoid small conflicts that could save us from larger anxieties later on.
Don’t allow yourself to get buried under a mountain of anxiety because you were afraid to stand up for your values in the present.
This is a lesson I’m continuing to learn as I embrace the alpha mentality and become a wiser, more powerful man in my own life.
As we take back control of our lives from the chaos around us, we learn many valuable lessons.
At the end of the day, if we don’t make ourselves the masters of our destinies, we will be forced to relinquish control of them to someone else.
In Any Case, Someone Somewhere Is Going To Choose Your Fate
It’s up to you to decide whether that person is you, or whether you’re going to give that power away to someone else.
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather make a stand and create my own life for myself than to trust someone else to do it.
That’s part of taking back control of your power from the chaos. But I also believe that when we get better at doing this, we’ll also help ourselves to overcome some anxiety as well.
I’ll leave you with one more quote… from the 18th Vow of the Oath of Kings and Queens.
“I understand that every day is a battle… and that there is no guarantee of victory tomorrow. So I vow to live gloriously and wisely on this day of days, setting my sights on the battle before me, without losing sleep or hope to the unknown horizon.”
Hopefully, this post has helped you to understand how embracing conflict in the micro helps us to avoid at least some anxiety in the macro.
Of course, it’s not a perfect solution. It’s just one more thing we can do to embrace the alpha mentality, grow stronger, and help to reduce suffering in our own lives.
Go with grace, my friends, and never give up your power.
Until next time…
Joshua K. Sigafus