365 Ways To Wellbeing – 363rd Way
There are a lot of cruelty and injustice in the world. The dark side of our emotions, like anger, jealousy, hatred, indifference and selfishness bring it to our life every day. We all share situations where we’ve been hurt, insulted or misused in one way or another. All this causes anxiety. On top of that we have cultural pressures, suppressing of emotions, shame and guilt, mistakes we’ve made, things we haven’t forgiven or forgotten, our own negative inner voice, feelings of being not good enough and feelings of loneliness. Plenty of stuff to be anxious about, isn’t it?
So we’ve developed ways to release anxiety. Ways to feel better and to be able to live with all the dark and difficult stuff and emotions in life. Ways that would fill the unexplainable emptiness inside us. That’s built in our biology, in our emotional regulation system, anxiety being part of threat and self-protection system. Anxiety as an emotion is nature’s way of keeping us out of harms way. Our biology isn’t that smart though. Our emotions often fool us to do things that wouldn’t actually be necessary or in the worst case, things that are harmful for us.
We can become addicted to anything and everything. Substances, wealth, ideas, opinions, theories, beliefs, pleasures, you name it. We try to release anxiety by shopping, working, cleaning, exercising, eating too much, eating too little, drinking, smoking, judging and criticizing others, etc. Basically we often try to get rid of our anxiety by getting a quick fix. We try to fill up the emptiness with something that makes us feel good at least for a while. And that’s of course is partly because our society that highlights getting our desires fulfilled. But what’s bad in getting our quick fix? Isn’t that just good to get rid of the anxiety easily and at the same time get some pleasure?
The problem is our biology again. The more we repeat certain behavior, for example because of our stress levels or traumatic experiences, the more used our brains become to it. And if our brains are used to get a quick relieve, we start to form behaving patterns. When those patterns are formed we tend to repeat and reinforce them. We slowly start to loose our grip without us even noticing it. And suddenly, when we realize that this is actually not the way we want to go, we can’t change it anymore. We keep getting seeking help from the thing that makes us feel bad at the same time. In the worst case scenario those behaving patterns lead to compulsive behavior or even addiction. Something that was a good way for us to make us feel better grows into something highly negative. The coin turns around and reveals its other side to us.
One of the most important things for me this year has been recognizing my ways to release anxiety. Seeing the problems of my own behavior have lead me to better understanding of myself. I’ve found the original reasons for my anxiety. It is only now that I understand what led me to burn out at my previous job, what caused me problems in my previous relationships or why my thoughts revolved around food for so many years. And now that I realize the reasons behind my troubles I have a good chance to make things better, change my behavior and to change myself. There is a lot of work to do and I’m at the beginning still but already now it feels easier to breathe. And I feel grateful for being able to understand my past better now.
If we want to be well we shouldn’t just try to ease the symptoms. We should try to see behind our problems and fix what’s really causing them. Because there’s really no point of putting a bandage on a broken leg. The key is to see our own ways of releasing anxiety and think carefully are they doing us more harm than good. It isn’t easy to see or to admit that we’re acting in a problematic way. And it’s even harder to change our behavior. Put it’s essential in developing as a human being and finding a long-lasting wellbeing.
Read more about my “Wellbeing Challenge 2013 – 365 Ways To Wellbeing”.