The Stoic Remedy for Anxiety
Around 40 million people in the U.S have an anxiety disorder (18% of the population). That's 1 in 5 people 300 million people globally. How much of that is just mental? I don't know, and I'm not here to debate that,I'm here to offer a remedy.
Now, there are many different reasons for having anxiety
Thinking you have a disorder
Most common of these reasons is the fear of uncertainty regarding a future situation. Maybe you're dreading giving a public speech because you feel like you're going to bomb.
Maybe you're avoiding social situations because you think everyone will make fun of you. Maybe you constantly fear losing your job and home.
These fears of POSSIBLE future situations, which may or may not happen, will stir up your emotions in the present and cause you anxiety and then what happens? You begin to fear the feelings of anxiety and get anxiety about having anxiety
So, what can you do about this?
Let's look to the ancient Philosophy of Stoicism for answers
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Most people today fail to get what they wish to have and fail to avoid what they wish they could , Why? Because both things, for the most part, are completely outside of their control.
They desire their favorite team to win the game, but when they don't they're pissed off. They wish to avoid traffic at 8am, but when they hit heavy traffic, they're pissed off. In both cases they fail to realize they have zero control over the situation
"Seek not for events to happen as you wish but rather wish for events to happen as they do and your life will go smoothly." - Epictetus
How does this relate to anxiety? Because the common approach towards anxiety today is based in avoidance
Remove yourself from anxiety provoking situations.....avoid
Count to 100.....avoid
Take a pill, etc.....avoid
Most methods teaching you to avoid anxiety are also teaching you to fear it. The Stoic approach is to learn to ACCEPT and ENDURE it
Accept the feeling and don't wish for anything to be different
Stop wishing to feel better...
Stop wishing to feel less anxious...
Stop wishing to be less nervous...
Stop resisting the resistance
ACCEPT the feeling and sit with it.
The problem is you're emotionally attached to a future outcome (Not feeling anxiety) and you're making yourself feel worse in the present.Plus, labeling the anixety as 'Bad' only makes the situation worse, when in reality, it's not bad. It's just an overactive survival mechanism, That's all
Next you need to stop worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. If you find yourself sitting ruminating over some possible future situation, you need to bring yourself back to the present
Ask yourself a few questions
1. What am I worried about? Accept it as a possibility, It's probably outside of your control
2. If that DOES happen, What will I do about it? What can I do about it now?
3. Is there anything I can do today to prevent it?
After going through those questions, Bring your focus back to today and right now, focus on whatever you're doing. There is no need to incessantly worry about "OMG ___might happen or OMG ___might happen!!". Maybe it will, maybe it won't....I don't know.
But whatever happens, you WILL be able to handle it if you remember to focus on what's in YOUR control and accept what's OUTSIDE of your control Focus on the present, and if you do find yourself feeling anxious, Don't resist it or try to avoid it.
ACCEPT it and sit with the feeling for it's duration. Don't label it as bad It's just a feeling in your body that you're currently experiencing, that's all :)
Breathe deeply, smile & say to yourself "I accept & allow this anxious feeling."
Time to face life head on!
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Author : Kekeocha Justin