How to feel better – anxiety
It’s easy to give advice when one feels good. It’s easy for me to give advice when I believe in them.
My friend, a designer. His job requires that he speaks to clients on the phone after sending them the first draft of his product. Business as usual. However, as the phone was ringing, he was anticipating the worst of answers. They hate it, which perhaps meant that they hated more than the product, maybe even him; bastards. Eventually, he decided to write down what he expected, how bad the client’s reactions would be, on a scale from 1 to 10. After the talk he’d note how bad they in fact were. His estimates were always around 8 or 9, while the results were never worse than a 4. As the results repeated, proving his fears were not reality, he began applying the findings, and started dreading the calls less. By introducing a solid external factor, however also subjective, he was able to modify his anxiety in accordance to it. He needed his anxiety to be based on things outside of him, and not on a fictitious inner world.
I searched for ways to deal with my anxiety, for a story like that, far outside of myself, to act as a tested antidote. The impersonality of the procedure jumpstarted my own process of detachment. From that moment on, I was to rely on the success of past experiences as the sort of deposit claiming that the future ones would be equally as bearable and successful. Of course, life is not straightforward like that, but for matters of anxiety, it might just as well be. Anxiety is an exasperated look into the far future, and its unknowability. If one manages to trick themselves that the future is in fact much like the present, which is much like the past, enough is done—anxiety is put to bed, for the future to unravel in mysterious ways.
I used to go climbing, without being aware that I had a fear of losing control. The primal, physical nature of sport made me see it in its raw form, as the fear of falling, as the fear of death. But once I’ve learned what scared me, I couldn’t unseen it in other aspects of my life, in which it was often less extremely presenting, but nonetheless as taxing. ‘Mental game’ plays an important role in climbing, seen as one part of the various aspects one trains. Fear is understood like a muscle, made to be stronger, to be better. And, as is the case with any training: consistency is key, there are good days and there are bad days, and one has to always partly ignore the immediate calls to quit when things become hard, exhausting and boring—and just go on. Pushing through and detaching from immediate reality, having the bigger picture in mind.
The mechanisms of detachment get me through, these days. And the more days they get me through, the more the positive aspects of a relaxed, anxiety-low life are revealed and reinforced. This time the vicious circle works in my favor. The hamster runs in happy circles.
How to feel better – giving one’s best
I was afraid that if I gave my best and not the best outcome resulted that I’d be more disappointed than if I had not given my best. But that’s no way to live a life—giving one’s best is how the process becomes just as valuable as the result, and, as such, the result becomes a sort of contingency of the timeline, and not its sole concern. I envision a bottle—if we give our best, the bottle is full, which therefore means there is no space in it for regret, because no regret can fit in. This is all we are. In a way, there are no bad days, if life truly is a marathon.