It’s been my experience that when you have anxiety you do one of two things: You give up your control or you cling to it for dear life. I tend to live along the former. I have a strict schedule that I follow. There are certain days allocated to certain chores. I have a set day I hang out with friends. When I lived my life all willy-nilly (the way I imagine “normal” people do) I was anxious all of the time. Structure helps me and it keeps my anxiety mostly in-check. I can actually function, like a human being.
But that’s not realistic all of the time.
Life happens. I’ve learned that while structure and routine are crucial to managing my anxiety – I also have to be flexible. I have to bend. Keeping hold of control 24/7 and then not being able to handle those curve balls drives me a different kind of crazy.
There’s a lot of wisdom in the advice of letting go, of surrendering, of allowing things to happen just as they are supposed to, to unfold naturally and to hope that the odds are ever in your favor. To stop reacting to every disruption in your routine as automatically bad. I breathe. I release the urge to control and decide the outcome and I focus on letting things just be.
Letting go of control? That’s really freakin’ hard.
Surrendering and letting go does work. It’s freeing and beautiful and so many times it has allowed me to stop. Take a really deep breath. And just inherently know that everything is going to work out. It’s so freeing and I absolutely love that feeling. However, letting go doesn’t come easily. It’s something that I have to re-learn over and over again, something that I need to remind myself of in the moment. Something that takes work for me.
“You get tragedy where the tree, instead of bending, breaks.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
How bendy are you?
I don’t like to bend. Oh, I like to tell myself that I’m flexible, but when it comes right down to it, I’m not. I become fixed in my ideas and in my opinions, even in my view of myself. I want things to work out the way that I envision, I want everything to go as planned. I want to be the puppet master of my life. (Handy hint: Don’t ever try to control the people in your life. It ends badly always.) Anyway, I don’t like to give up that feeling of being in charge of my destiny. Then a big strong wind comes along and I am presented with two choices.
Bend or break.
There are times when you need to let go of control, just a bit, in order to survive something unscathed and it’s a very scary feeling. Bending, allowing yourself to move with the current instead of standing strong against it. Yet there are also times when you’ve got to stand tall and not let anything move you. Knowing when to do what is the definition of wisdom.
Let Things Be
If there’s something that you really can’t change – instead of obsessing about it and running it over and over in your mind take a deep breath, or several deep breaths, and just let it go. Over and over again, clear your mind. Whenever your mind starts down that path of anxiety and control gently turn it onto a more positive path.
Be In The Moment
Appreciate what you have right here in the moment. Anxiety is largely based on fear of what is going to happen not what is happening right now. We’re pretty good at handling life, breathing, living in the moment. It’s what’s around the corner that’s frightening. So tick off the good things that are happening in your life right now and let yourself soak in that goodness.
Let Fear Go
You can prepare the best you can for those bad outcomes and once you do that you’ve got to let things happen as they will and not allow yourself to worry about it. Do what you can to prepare for things and then let it go. Living a life spent worrying and obsessing about every little thing isn’t healthy.