Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Anxiety is an Overpaid Middleman

You're probably wondering what I mean by that title up there. I tell ya, Folks, the soul-searching just keeps reaping more and tastier fruit.
I had never fully come to grips with my anxiety until after giving birth to Cedar. Sure, I knew I would get anxious and stressed, but it was relatively harmless because it was self-contained and my life still trucked along in a comfortable fashion. When I was anxious/stressed, I would get wound up, frustrated, nit-picky - but for whatever reason, it didn't bother me too much. Then baby came and the anxiety hit a peak that rattled my brain and nerves, and took away my oh-so-beloved sleep. Yes. The baby didn't take away my sleep - the anxiety did. With this critical need in limbo, I was forced to take a good look at the source.
So why do I say that anxiety is a middleman? Because I've come up with this: We have the outer world (let's call it day-to-day reality), and we have the inner world (how we think, feel, process and CREATE our reality). A healthy dynamic between these two worlds would be to exist in uncomplicated actions. Like - hey, it's garbage day tomorrow - and off you go taking out the garbage. But if the middleman steps in, it's more like - shit! it's garbage day tomorrow, I'll put it out in the morning, what if I can't fit all the recycling in? Do I even have those clear bags?
(Sorry - quick analogy. Seemed easy.) What I notice is that I often get anxious instead of taking action, or for things that don't require action, have faith that things will turn out well.
So when does anxiety come knocking the loudest? When I am in the unknown. And for the record, I think we're always in the unknown. Life is completely unpredictable in its finer moments. Here is what I have been asking myself - "Why when I am in the unknown do I imagine a negative outcome?" Anxiety. Things not working out. Catastrophe. Stress. If it's bound to be unknown anyway, then why don't I imagine and intend good things happening? Well that, my friends, is because I've been paying this middleman to help me decide upon how I feel in the world.
I was reading a passage from a book called, Everyday Parenting, and in it the author was talking about developing a meditation practice. He said that meditation practice can happen during any moment of the day (taking out the garbage even!) and it's simply being mindful of our thoughts and not identifying with them. The most genius thing he said was that "we practice anxiety" every day, so why not practice something else?
We go to what we know; I had always known anxiety (passed down through the family brain tree) and hadn't questioned it too much.
I am going to fire the middleman. He's still working for me, but I'm paying him less, and slowly reducing his hours. He doesn't even do a good job - all the things he says aren't going to work out, work out really well! So he's wrong most of the time too.
You know, people often say that when you have kids you lose your freedom. I am going to challenge that by saying this: Cedar is inspiring me to find true freedom - which is found in the mind. Once the middleman has cleaned out his desk and taken his ROE form, I believe I will have found a whole new level of freedom.


Peter Marmorek said...

Lovely and profound... I was writing on Monday (writing group) about what things had been falling away from my life and wrote about anxiety. It really doesn't help us as much as it tries to convince us it does.

java mama said...

i like the saying from Unity in Costa Rica-it worked for me when i could not sell that house-Let Go Let God