Sometimes it can feel as though life is happening to us. We are at it’s mercy, and we don’t have much of a say about what happens. This can make the world feel like a really scary place, because anything can happen, and we just have to deal with it.
How we feel about life and the things that happen to us depend on what we think about them. Our thoughts become feelings, so what we think quite literally determines how we feel about things. We can shape our feelings by becoming more aware of what our mind is thinking about.
When we feel out of control we try to control the outer world to try to escape from how we are feeling in our inner world. It results in us feeling anxious and overwhelmed because we try harder and harder to avoid what we’re feeling and to control things. Things that can’t always be controlled.
Why it isn’t about loo roll
An example of this is Coronavirus. People tried to gain control by buying pasta and toilet roll. It probably helped them to feel prepared, but didn’t alleviate the fear of what might happen. When we don’t know what is going to happen, our mind fills in the gaps for us and makes up a story about the future.
If you think about how scary it would be to contract Coronavirus, think about all the people you know and wonder if they might get it, think about the state of the economy, the country, the hospitals and the world now and when this is all over, you can quickly find yourself in overwhelm and anxiety.
Yes, the world is in crisis and there is some really scary stuff going on, but a lot of what we think about it is actually projections about what might happen in the future. If at the moment you are safe at home, then a lot of the fear comes from telling a story about what could happen. Your mind is filling in the gaps by making a story about what could happen in the future because you don’t know what is going to happen. The story your mind makes then affects how you feel. The story is about how bad it all could get, and you feel anxious, fearful, overwhelmed.
We can’t predict the future, the past has already happened. We can only live in the present. In this moment. All we have is right now.
Mind the Gap
Alleviating anxiety is less about trying to put things in place to control what you can in the world, and more about noticing the story you are telling yourself. What are you fearing might happen? What is your mind making up to fill in the unknown gaps?
Once you can notice the story you are telling yourself, you can say to yourself “why am I freaking myself out by expecting something to happen?” “Why am I making myself anxious by thinking about all the scary things that could happen?”
Life has much less stress when you live alongside what is, instead of constantly thinking of catastrophes that might never happen (and hopefully won’t).