By now, we are all well aware of the nature of the subconscious mind, and how big of a role it plays in our lives. It is the realm of feelings–every feeling you have is the result of a reaction in your subconscious mind. You don’t ever consciously think to yourself “there’s that cute girl I’ve seen around campus, it’s time to get nervous and tense up.” And yet, we still do it.
Commonly, in the USA, and in the 21st century, we go to therapists or have medication prescribed for us to fix the problem of anxiety. I myself went to a therapist in college for about a year and a half (he thought I was manic depressive). I was placed on bi-polar medication (lithium), and hated it. Furthermore, I would still have episodes where I felt extremely lost, extremely sad, and extremely angry. Plus, I was under the impression from people around me and the attitude of my therapist that said “go to therapy and get help, and take your medication, that will make you feel better.”
There are a lot of problems with the culture that surrounds that. For one, when you think that taking a pill is going to change something, you instill the “quick fix” mindset that is within so many of us. Rather than do something of quality and do it the right way, we would like to put some bubble gum and duck tape on it and see how far that thing can drive. If (when) there’s another problem, well, more bubble gum and duck tape should do the trick, right? Ha…well, you can probably see where I’m going with this.
There is also a problem with going to a therapist as a means to help yourself. In a sense, you’re giving up trying to get better on your own. You don’t think that you have the strength to overcome what you perceive as a problem. It’s fine to have moments of doubt, but when you define yourself with doubt, you’re getting in your own way. I was getting in my own way when I saw a therapist. Once I got off of lithium and started trying to improve myself, things slowly became permanently better than they were before.
Wanting something to be over with quickly is natural within almost all of us. If snapping my fingers moved all of my furniture into my new apartment I’d have a pretty big smile on my face. But it never works. You will never find anything of value in your life that can be immediately achieved, and your happiness or well being is absolutely no different from that. Alleviating anxiety is hard work, and you must be vigilant and attentive to it if you hope to do it.
The process for decreasing anxiety is routine and systematic. The very first thing you must do is sit in a room, by yourself, alone, with no music playing and as little noise as possible. Just sit there. Pay attention to what you do. Do you bite your fingernails? Do you bring your mustache hair into your mouth and chew on it? Do you itch your arms? Do you start thinking about all the things you have to be nervous about in your life?
Alright, now that you’ve identified your nervous habits, just look at them. If you chew you mustache, just sit there and casually observe yourself chewing that mustache. Keep sitting there. Get really comfortable with the fact that you like to chew your mustache. It’s cool. It’s just something you do, and you’re totally cool with it.
Then, relax your body one part at a time. First, focus on your toes, then the arches of your feet, then the top of your feet. Then take a deep breath and think about all you have accomplished. Then keep working your way up to your calves. All the way to your neck you do this. Once you’re completely relaxed, let yourself stay completely relaxed. Feel yourself sinking into your seat like dead weight. Breath deeply and melodically.
Alright. Practice that, and see if you can improve how quickly you feel a little bit better. If you start to feel anxious again, just focus on breathing and relaxing your body. Pay attention to what you’re doing and just observe it. Eventually, you will be very good at relaxing by yourself.
Then you go up a level. You turn on some music, and you focus on relaxing and abstaining from anxiety. If you’re unsuccessful, you go back down a level to being completely silent and focusing on tranquility again. Then you try relaxing with music on again. Once you can say you confidently have that down, you move up another level. Lather, rinse, repeat. Don’t force yourself to be acting on the grand stage just yet, simply focus on where you are and how you can calm down a little bit more. Eventually, start smiling. Eventually, you’ll start relaxing in the middle of a conversation. After some time it will become a more consistent process, and you’ll start to resort to de-stressing as a natural response to problems you face. This is important, and it helps you keep a level head when things get very hectic.
Above all, give yourself a break. Life can be challenging sometimes. When you face several obstacles, you just remind yourself you can, and should, do only one thing at a time. If the worst thing happens, then it happens. Focus on doing the best thing that you can do in this present moment, and learn to leave perfection behind.