Most of us, at some point in time, will experience anxiety, a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. You may be in a situation where you have a fear of the unknown; it could be the result of a recent job loss, a loved one being sick, a personal relationship that is heading toward a cliff, or any reason BIG or Small. Well, no matter where it comes from, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
I was recently in the Emergency Room at a Hospital, and I saw a poster on the wall that describes the Levels of PAIN; while I traditionally think of Pain as being Binary (You have it or you don’t), it turned out that it’s measured on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 = No Pain to 10 = Worst Possible Pain.
Let me put my Psychologist Hat for a second and tell you that Pain has two components: a sensory component (physical) and an emotional or affective component (psychological). The former informs your body where the pain is coming from, while the latter causes psychological distress after an experience of pain.
While physical pain is relatively easier to deal with, emotional pain is trickier. Sometimes you feel hurt by something very direct, like someone’s words describing you, rejection, or a much deeper situation like the general feeling of being unappreciated at work or in a relationship.
Anxiety takes this concept of emotional pain to a whole new level. While I cannot describe what a person can be experiencing during that period, I can tell you from experience that while you cannot take that pain away, you CAN lighten it up just a little bit.
“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.” —Charles Spurgeon
I was unfortunate to be in a situation to deal with more than one loved one battling cancer (at the same time). Despite whatever pain they were going through, I felt helpless, and believe me, I would’ve done anything to make their pain go away. Still, in reality, I could only do what everyone does, Pray, and hope that things would just work out. While I was crying my heart out being alone, I needed to be strong while I was present with them and do what I do best, talk to them in the hope that my words could bring a little motivation to their helpless situation.
It is very difficult to lift the morale of someone fighting cancer and dealing with extreme Anxiety about their life, so my words to them included the following:
“I want you to do two things:
1) I want you to remove Death from the equation as we are all going to die regardless of having cancer or not,
2) I want you to only think about the next step you will do; if your chemotherapy is coming up next month, then when the time comes, you go and go through it, and until then, you don’t think about it and you don’t start thinking about the next step except after you have done it. and will repeat the exercise by only thinking about the next step.”
This week’s tip is about Shortening your Timeframes, it was very well described in Jordan B. Peterson‘s book 12 Rules for Life (Book on Amazon can be found here, and a very well-written summary/extract can be found here)
In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle describes how our Brains can play tricks on us and how overthinking can lead us to places we don’t want to be in; so, in short, the more you keep thinking and overthinking, the more you end up with more Anxiety and the more you will be experiencing emotional pain that would keep growing to reach high on the scale of pain.
What has helped me and many others while they are going through Dark Times is this Week’s Tip: While being in a state of Anxiety, Shorten your Time Frame, stop thinking one year ahead or one month ahead, and shorten it down to 1 week, to 1 day, to even 1 hour.
Although it might not get you completely over your anxiety, it would help reduce the emotional pain you are going through, and reducing that pain, is a good thing to have!
You can view the full extract from Jordan Peterson’s session below or via this link
Enjoy your week,