I’m a worry-wart. Like, poster-child for anxiety kind of person. “I got 99 problems and 86 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I’m stressing about for no logical reason.” was probably written with my character in mind.
While I have never had a panic attack, I have wasted a great of deal of time worrying about trivial past events and imagining mini-apocalypses for any given situation taking place in a near/far/maybe will never happen future. However, thanks to one question, I have gotten better at taming the high-strung hamster in my head and luring it into a calmer state of mind.
In Eckhart Tolle’s essay The Power of Now, the author explains that the majority, if not all, of our problems stems from our obsession with the past and future. Only through the present may we access our essential being and attain a state of peace. Therefore, when you’re having a breakdown from thinking about what’s your next career move/when you will finally find love/what’s for dinner tonight, realize that these problems do not represent your immediate reality. When you over-analyze events from the past and fret about that presentation you gave/that dirty look the secretary gave you/why that jerk didn’t ask for your number, your focus is on events that no longer belong to you and that you have to let go.
So instead (wait for it! the magic sentence is coming up), when your mind is caught in a tornado of anxious thoughts and regrets and you think it’s the end of the world (for the 23rd time today), the author encourages you to ask yourself this question: “In this present moment, do I have a problem?” This question is so pertinent because the present moment is the only thing that is real. Don’t get lured by the mind to think about your imaginary reality in 5 days, 5 minutes ago or even in 5 seconds, but focus on your reality AT.THIS.VERY.MOMENT. 99% of the time, you realize that you’re still alive, breathing and safe from any immediate danger. In fact, you’re really okay.
When you’re having an anxiety attack, ask yourself: In this present moment, do I have a problem?
While this question isn’t a miracle-maker, I find that it brings a halt to my OMFG-train-of-thought. It gives me a pause and removes me from a panic-induced REACTIVE state of mind. I become calmer and more apt to deal with the situation.
The Power of Now is a great little gem. Be warned that it isn’t a book that’s easy to digest nor should it be considered a light-read (it took me five (!!) years to finish this 200 pages book and wrap my head around the explained concepts). It has however greatly contributed to my perception of the world and I would recommend it to anyone who’s open to questioning their beliefs.
While I have remained a worry-wart, I am now a worry-wart with insight 😉
Let me know how you deal with your anxiety!
Much love and hugs,