You’re not the odd one out!
I was speaking to a work friend today who split up with his partner and the thing that struck me was he thought his girlfriend was cool about the split. This adds stress to the situation. However, as a friend on the outside looking in, I said, “I bet she’s hurting just as bad, but better at hiding it.” This got me thinking in many areas of our lives we imagine it is only ourselves who suffer. This is a common theme, but totally irrational, as stress, anxiety and depression are universal. Understanding this can help us. Let’s face it no one wants to be the odd one out!
Why do we feel this way?
Different people express their emotions in different ways. People’s stress and anxiety comes in many forms. Some people show stress which can be seen in body language e.g. nervous energy, faster breathing and aggression (which is normally fear). However, many people are great actors, hiding stress and anxiety. Sometimes pride or not wanting to be different makes people hide their emotions. Most high achieving people I have spoken to readily admit to getting anxious and stressed. This has often surprised me as many people appear to be cool and calm on the outside. It’s how you view it that counts.
What makes people thrive under pressure?
There is not one answer, however realising that you aren’t the only one who has these inner battles can motivate us to develop the skills, tactics and mind-set to conquer whatever fear we may face. You can do this.
Think outside the box
We need to learn from adversity. Knowing we are the same as the vast majority of people, that we are no different to others going through similar personal battles should give us the motivation to change for the better. Why is this true? It’s true because people cope. People get through hard times. The more I think about anxiety the more I think it’s a problem to be systematically solved. Think of it as a challenge. Change the way you view it. As in meditation step outside it, observe it, separate yourself from anxiety. Take the power away. Think outside the box. Take action.
Accentuate the positive to reduce the negative
Flood your mind with positive thoughts and actions. How do you do this? If you enjoy running and can’t wait to go for a run after work, there’s less space for anxious thoughts to be present. You can’t think about a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. Think about the good active things in your day.
Go for a run, lift weights, learn MMA, hike, climb a mountain, ride a bike, play football, the list is endless. There will always be something you can do to lift your mood, improve yourself and chip away at the anxiety. You don’t lose fat by thinking, “Please fat go away” but by training and having a better diet. Good habits develop good thoughts.
Use your head!
On a more intellectual level learn something new. This could be writing, playing chess, reading, photography, coding, or painting. Again, the list is endless.
Another thing to do is meditate. Start now. There’s no excuse. The resources are literally at your fingertips. You know the smart phone you’re reading this on! There is an abundance of YouTube videos and free podcasts to learn all you need to know about mediation. Keep trying different forms until you find one that suits you. I have tried Audio Dharma, Gil Frondsal is a favourite, Tara Brach is another great teacher and Sam Harris. Also apps like Headspace are very popular today. Start with a couple of minutes. If you can do 10 minutes just do 5 minutes that way you won’t get bored.
Positive changes require positive actions
The three areas above – fitness, learning something new and mediation have no downside. If you put these into your life great improvements will be made. Positive changes require positive actions.
Play the long game
Taking the above actions won’t magically make anxiety disappear. However it will start to flood your mind with positive thoughts which will diminish anxiety over time. Don’t rush, play the long game. After all your anxiety probably took months or years to embed as a habit, and I truly believe it is a bad habit. So don’t try to change a habit by thinking, “I wish this would go away”, but change it by creating a new positive habit. Be patient, as good things will come. Remember hope comes in many forms. Also remember to not take action is means no change will be made to improve your anxiety levels. Take a minute to let that sink in.
Do you want to get better? If you do, do something about it.
We win or we learn
Never forget you are not the only one who goes through life with problems, stress and worry. Use the realisation that others have the same stresses but still cope as fuel to better yourself. Use the above tactics. Work out the tactics that suit you, that give you the best advantage, play to your strengths. Look inside yourself and see what makes you happy. Make a commitment, make the first step, you won’t regret it. You may not win all the time. However, learn the lesson and take something from the experience. You’ll be surprised but there is nearly always something positive to take from adversity. As Conor Macgregor said, “We win or we learn.”
What are the positives you have taken from a bad time in your life?