Focusing Tip #691 – “What do I do with my anxiety and despair about the world?”
What if you feel unbearably scared about the state of things out there? Read on…
A Reader writes:
When I think about what’s going on politically and in the world, I’m in suspense and I have to fend off despair. I recognize that anxiety for the future is worrying about stuff that hasn’t happened yet. And I’ve even been paying attention to “big history” which helps me maintain a longer view.
But bad stuff is happening right now, on so many different levels: destructively extreme weather and species die-off, the weakening of democracy, vicious trolling that keeps good people from stepping up… Help!
Yes, really big scary things are happening. Here in California it is not raining, even though it is our rainy season… so we have fires in our future for sure. There’s a coronavirus on the loose. And there’s more. Anyone can make a list like this these days.
But the anxiety that our bodies feel is not actually worse when the events are worldwide, vs. when they are up close and personal: A beloved friend with a cancer diagnosis. Not enough money for both the rent and the medications. The dread that these circumstances bring up is just as bad… maybe even worse.
Anxiety can be understood as a part of us that is scared of what will happen, and feels helpless to change it.
The Tip is that even though a part of you feels anxious, YOU don’t have to feel anxious too.
Remember (and I know you know this): Circumstances do not cause your feelings. They contribute, yes. But there is a middle step in between what happens and how you feel about it.
That middle step is you, and the meaning you make of what is happening.
How do you separate from the anxiety? Like this:
ONE. Say to the anxious part inside you (mine is usually in my stomach): “I really really hear how anxious you are.”
Say it kindly, compassionately… like a mother to a beloved child.
TWO. Now say to it: “I am here with you now.”
Notice: this is not a promise that you will fix anything! You are simply saying that you are here!
But having reminded yourself that you are bigger than the anxious part, you ARE more likely to be able to discern the actions that you can take… and be calm about the fact that you can’t do it all. One step at a time.