It’s time I put pen to paper and write something! I’ve been busy creating YouTube videos and figuring out which direction I should head in life. For the first time in a long time I’ve felt that the days have been dragging on and I haven’t had a clear goal or focus to move towards, and this has created unease and tension in my life. I’ve noticed that my attention has shifted more towards being ‘’inside my head,’’ rather than in the rest of my body or in what’s happening around me. This has lead to a deeper understanding about anxiety, stress, and how to find relief in the midst of it all.
In today’s society we are exposed to constant ‘pop ups’ and notifications, we have more applications than we can manage and there’s more being created every day. We spend our days caught up between: social media, work and our close relationships with friends, families and lovers. We go about the day troubleshooting and working our brains to the fullest. We think, think and think some more until thinking becomes habit. Thinking has become so normal that even when you are out and about in nature you constantly label and judge your surroundings. You can’t even watch a flower without thinking about its color and the memories that you have associated with that flower. I’m not even exaggerating here. This is what the our modern society has moved towards. We have all become very cerebral centric. This simply means that all our attention has shifted towards the head.
‘’Depression is being stuck in the past and anxiety is worrying about the future’’
Both anxiety and its younger brother depression are products of the mind. It’s your intelligence, habits and patterns that create feelings of heaviness and worry. Even the word fear stands for ‘false evidence appearing real.’
The mind and its intelligence only exist for one purpose and that’s to protect you the ‘organism’ from danger. There’s millions of years of evolution behind the modern brain that sits in your skull. Yet it only took the amount of time that you have been alive to program your mind. Think of the brain as the hardware and the mind as the software. There’s no way to change the hardware since it’s already built in from start, but it’s always possible to upgrade your software. You can go from Windows XP all the way to Windows 10 or perhaps you’re tired of Windows? What about Ubuntu? Or Linux?
If you don’t understand computer terms I’m simply speaking about the different operating systems that you can install on a modern computer. I’m highlighting these different operating systems because just as changing from one operating system you can change how you chose to live at any moment. You always have the power to change or upgrade the underlying software. In practical terms, this simply means that you can change how you view and interpret the situations, events and circumstances around you and in doing so, you end up altering your overall life experience.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own’’
A healthy dose of stoicism
There are a variety of ways to upgrade your own personal software. One of the ways that I’ve found most effective is installing stoic philosophy. When a computer installs new software, it takes a certain amount of time, let’s say 30 minutes to install windows. It’s exactly the same when you start installing stoic philosophy into your system. The only difference is that the computer is faster and what takes it 30 minutes might take you 6 months or more, because it’s not about learning one phrase or understanding two paragraphs, it’s about studying the important elements until you know them by heart.
Here I want to highlight the most important element of stoic philosophy and that is the circle of control. It’s actually very simple. The Romans broke down stoic philosophy into two categories and those categories can be explained by drawing or imagining a circle. Everything that you have control over is put inside the circle and the rest is put outside the circle. This circle was created to effectively narrow down your focus so that you don’t spill wasteful time on the things that don’t matter. Only one thing exists inside the circle of control and that is your own mind. That’s, right you only have control over one thing and that’s your mind. You have the control over how you chose to view and interpret everything that happens to you and the actions that you then chose to take or not take.
You don’t have control over your lover, friends, family, situations, world, the future, the past and everything else including your own body. They made sure to include the body because some of us like to think that we are in control of our body, but that isn’t true. The body is always subject to external control. It can be struck with a terminal illness at any moment or be taken away from you. Let’s say you are on vacation in some foreign country and seemingly out of nowhere the local police decide to take you and put you into prison or perhaps you’re kidnapped by terrorists? In both these cases your body has been taken away from you but even if you are kidnapped by terrorists or taken to prison you still control your own mind and how you chose to view and interpret those events and the actions that you chose to take or not take.
Isn’t this a great relief? You no longer have to wallow in the past or worry about the future.
When I see a man in a state of anxiety, I say, ‘what can this man want?’ If he did not want something which is not in his power, how could he still be anxious?
The next time you are anxious. Ask yourself this question: What is that you want? Do you want to change the past or perhaps alter the future? Do you worry about upcoming events or think back to horrific things that have already happened? Realize that every time anxiety strikes, you are trying to control that which is not in your power and only bringing your attention towards that which is in your power will eliminate the anxiety.
This concludes today’s article. Comment down below and let me know your best piece of advice for eliminating anxiety!