Why do I live anxiously?
Commentary by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
The most common response is because everyday life is full of haste, with so many things to sort out at the same time that this inevitably leads us to a certain degree of stress and anxiety. Let us look at this a bit more closely.
Stress is a feeling of nervousness, worry, agitation, excitation and insecurity. It is a mechanism that helps us react quickly in situations that are really threatening. It helps us to brace ourselves to tackle them with all the energy we have.
However, we also feel stress because of imaginary threats. In such cases, the anxiety does not have an external correlate on which to progress. We feel overwhelmed, as if we were in a fight, constantly on the defensive because of what might happen.
There is one factor that easily makes us feel anxious: we let ourselves be carried away by thoughts that cause our stress to flare up. We spend a huge part of the day thinking automatically and anticipating possible scenarios that will hamper our plans, both big and small. We deal with our lives as if we were able to control everything that might happen. If something does not work out as we imagine, anxiety arises. If a child fails a subject, again anxiety appears.
If I have to carry out a new task, that will challenge me, again there is stress.
Everything is a contest for us to anticipate and control everything.
Each of these situations becomes magnified and feeds negative thoughts, complaints and irritation.
Life is as it is and we cannot control it as we wish. Of course we can and must do things and take decisions, but we need to bear in mind that we control very little. We can only choose how to respond to situations, we cannot control the situations.
When our lives are caught up in anticipatory thoughts, we are enslaved by anxiety.
What should we do?
Be aware that you are caught up this way. Observe your thoughts as they arise and make the decision not to go with them. Do what you can, but do not think about controlling things and that things should turn out the way you want them to.
Life hands you many things and you waste them by trying to make them different. Live each thing as if it were the last. Do not fall into frantic anticipation.
If you live in the present moment without wishing at all costs that things were different, your anxiety level is bound to go down straight away. Disconnect yourself from this febrile anxiety, live with what there is and respond consistently.
You will enjoy the moment more than ever.