A Course Of Lectures——How Should We Deal With Anxiety
Imagine that you're getting ready to go to a party. You feel excited, but also nervous, and you've got this feeling in your stomach almost like another heartbeat. There's something holding you back, holding you back from getting too happy.
"No, you mustn't get too happy. Better to be cautious, otherwise, something bad might happen." You start wondering, "Who should I talk to when I get there? What if no one wants to talk to me? What if they'll think I'm weird?"
When you arrive at the party, someone comes up to you and starts talking with you, and as this is happening, your mind starts racing, your heart begins pounding, you start sweating, and it feels almost like you're dissociating from yourself, like it's an out-of-body experience, and you're just watching yourself talk.
"Keep it together," you say to yourself, but you can't. And it's just getting worse: after a few minutes of conversation, the person you've been speaking to leaves, and you feel utterly defeated. This has been happening to you in social situations for a long time.
Or imagine every time you go out, and you're in crowded places, you feel this panic starting to arise. When you're surrounded by lots of people, like on a bus, you start to feel hot, nauseous, uneasy, and to prevent this from happening, you start avoiding a lot of places which makes you feel lonely and isolated.
You or the person in both of these scenarios have anxiety disorders, and what I can tell you is that anxiety is very common, much more than people think.
To show you the impact that anxiety has on someone's life, I will just mention that anxiety can lead to depression, school dropout, suicide. It makes it harder to focus, and to hold down a job, and it can lead to relationship breakdown.
But a lot of people don't know this, that's why, a lot of times, people sweep anxiety under the rug as just nerves that you need to get over, as a weakness, but anxiety is so much more than that. A reason why so many people don't think it's important is that they don't know what it is.
That's why it's important to differentiate what is normal anxiety from what is an anxiety disorder. Normal anxiety is an emotion that we all get when we're in stressful situations.
Anxiety helps us meet our deadlines at work and deal with emergencies in life, but when this anxiety emotion is taken to the extreme and arises in situations which don't pose a real threat, then that's when you might have an anxiety disorder.
So here's something else to consider: the way you cope or handle things has a direct impact on how much anxiety you're experiencing, and if you tweak the way you're coping, then you can lower your anxiety.
Other studies showed that people who had faced extreme circumstances, who had faced adversity, been through wars and natural disasters, if they had coping resources, they remained healthy and free of mental disorders, while others, facing the same hardships but without coping skills went on a downward spiral and developed mental disorders.
So what are some of these coping resources, and how can we use them to lower our anxiety? you can develop these coping resources or coping skills on your own through the things that you do; you can take charge of your anxiety and lower it, which I think is so empowering.
Today I'll be talking about three coping resources, and the first one is feeling like you're in control of your life. People who feel like they're more in control of their life have better mental health.
If you feel like you're lacking in control in life, then research shows that you should engage in experiences that give you greater control. A way to overcome indecision and this lack of control in life, is to do it badly.
This can be paralyzing and can make you afraid to even begin. All too often, we aim for perfection, but never end up doing anything because the standards that we set for ourselves are too high, they're intimidating, which stresses us out so we delay starting something, or we might even abandon the whole thing altogether.
Do it badly frees you up to take action.This will make it that much easier to start something and as you're doing it badly to finish it, and when you look back, you'll realize, more often than not, that actually it's not that bad. I'd like to ask you to think about this: if you start using this motto today, how would your life change?
The second coping strategy is to forgive yourself, and this is very powerful if you use it. People with anxiety think a lot about what they're doing wrong, their worries, and how bad they're feeling. Well, people with anxiety do this to themselves all day long.
They're not kind to themselves. So maybe it's time to start being kinder with ourselves, time to start supporting ourselves, and a way to do this is to forgive yourself for any mistakes you think you might have made just a few moments ago to mistakes made in the past.
If you had a panic attack and are embarrassed about it, forgive yourself; if you wanted to talk to someone, but couldn't muster up the courage to do so, don't worry about it, let it go; forgive yourself for anything and everything and this will give you greater compassion towards yourself.
You can't begin to heal until you do this. And last but not least, having a purpose and meaning in life is a very important coping mechanism. Whatever we do in life, whatever work we produce, however much money we make, we cannot be fully happy until we know that someone else needs us, that someone else depends on our accomplishments, or on the love that we have to share.
It's not that we need other people's good words to keep going in life, but if we don't do something with someone else in mind, then we're at much higher risk for poor mental health. Doing something with someone else in mind can carry you through the toughest times.
So the question is do you do at least one thing with someone else in mind?This could be volunteering, or it could be sharing this knowledge that you gained today with other people, especially those who need it most, and these are often the people who don't have money for therapy, and they're usually the ones with the highest rates of anxiety disorders.
Give it to them, share with others, because it can really improve your mental health. Even if these people will never realize what you've done for them, it doesn't matter, because you will know, and this will make you realize the uniqueness and importance of your life. Thank you.