Wisdom from the past – Psalm 34:18

The book of psalms is a wealth of wisdom. For my regular readers you know I am not a Christian, I am a pagan heathen. That doesn’t mean that religious texts and doctrine are without merit. How did Bob Dylan put it? “We always did feel the same we just saw it from a different point of view”. We aren’t here for Dylan’s wisdom, we are here for the psalm.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

For those of you in faith you already have a close relationship with god. For those of us who are spiritual and or unsure? This is of great comfort. Grief will happen to you in your life, and it’s a very lonely place to be. It’s worse than anxiety really because of the profound sense of loss. Take heart, if you can, maybe the lord is with you right now, even if you don’t believe.

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Ancient Wisdom - Confucius

Ancient Wisdom – Confucius

Many of us have heard of Confucius, we know that he was a Chinese philosopher who through his years of writing, observation and work in government created a philosophy of personal morality. This isn’t a political piece or a religious piece. As individuals with anxiety we can use wisdom of the past to help us in the present.

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
—Confucius

How many times have we been faced with an issue that looks like a mountain? We get overwhelmed and we fall into the pit of woe that is anxiety and mental health issues. Is one little saying going to help us? Maybe a little, maybe not at all.

How to move mountains
When you have Anxiety, Mountains appear often.

That said at the end of the day events happen to us, mountains appear. We have to deal with them. The beauty of this wisdom is it illustrates literally and figuratively how to deal with a problem that becomes a mountain.

You have to start, and you work the problem one small step (stone) at a time. Look we all have obstacles that pop up in our lives and some of them are extreme. You can move that mountain, be calm, and be methodical… Take one step at a time, one stone at a time and in no time the mountain will be moved and you will be right back on your chosen path.

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Ben Franklin

Wisdom from the past – Ben Franklin

“Lost time is never found again” – Ben Franklin

It’s time for another short post on wisdom and time. When you engage in activities that you otherwise wouldn’t if you had the choice you are losing time. Now the premise is “you don’t have a choice” and often that is the case. The goal here is, is to start working on the ability to HAVE the choice. This can be working on exiting from a toxic relationship.

This can be recognizing a bad habit and working on fixing it. This can be resigning from a job you hate, on and on. The important thing to strive for is maximizing the time you do have with things you want to do or enjoy. We all have things we would rather not be doing (like cleaning as an example) but working towards a life with less and less of those is paramount.

Time is the universal currency. It doesn’t care your about your gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, none of it. So to decrease your anxiety and increase your happiness figure out what you like to do and what you don’t like to do and stop losing time, you will never get it back, it will never be found again.

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How to turn your anxiety into a super power

For years now I have been doing posts on anxiety where I seek out articles and cite them for the purpose of giving people information. Inevitably many of these articles come boil down to a very simple proposition: change the way you think. I mean anyone with anxiety will tell you If they could do that they would. We get these over simplifications in many areas of life and its tiring. I found an article here that somewhat does this, but gets to the critical aspect of the identification process.

From the article: “Suzuki talks about “the superpower of productivity,” which you can tap into simply by listening carefully to the actual content of your worries. “A very, very common manifestation of anxiety is that ‘what if’ list that comes in your head: What if I get sick with Covid, what if I don’t get an A, what if I can’t remember what the professor said on this part of the test? The superpower that comes with that anxiety-induced what-if list is shifting that into a to-do list,” she explains to Newman. “ 

Chronic Anxiety is like having an itch that you can never scratch.

So the critical point here is identifying the source of the anxiety. Worried about an exam? Study more. I know simple right? The point here is identifying sources of anxiety and attempting to address them directly. This action begins the process of the infamous “change how you think” narrative and why this article is so valuable. You are likely never going to escape anxiety completely but if there are reoccurring issues that create anxiety, identifying them and working toward addressing them directly is going to bare a lot of fruit for your mental state.

Many of us, myself included have a multifaceted issue. Meaning it’s never just one thing, it’s an accumulation of many small issues that converge and lead to intrusive thoughts and debilitating mood swings. Take one issue at a time, if its work, well what part of work specifically? Try and drill down here, get into the weed and really figure out what is driving your anxiety. When you do this you create the conditions by which you can recover faster as you can in many cases address the issue directly and resolve it.

One down, hundreds more to go but its progress….

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How to move mountains

Time – The most valuable commodity in the world

I haven’t done a piece on time recently. As I contend in several of my blog posts over the years, Time is the most valuable commodity in the world. How you spend it largely determines how happy you are. Today’s lesson is relative to “years”. I am going to give you a popular phrase below, you’ve probably uttered it yourself or know someone who has.

“They (you determine who the they are) just turned (you fill in the year) so I have a good “X” amount of years left with them”

Let’s hone this a bit……

“My dad just turned 72, so I probably have a good 10 years left with him”

We usually end there. There is another question we rarely propose and to truly value our time we have to start asking it. With my example above that question is “how many times a year do you see your dad?”

Maybe you see him every day, that’s cool move on to the next person. Maybe he lives across the country and you see him twice a year. That would mean that, by our logic above that you have “a good 10 years left with him” then you are only going to see him 20 more times. Could be less, could be more. That’s not so many is it?

Time is the most valuable commodity in the world and every day we lose more of it.

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Anxiety: Back to Basics

Let me start this post off with a link to a great resource the Anxiety and Depression Association of America . This site has excellent information for anyone who thinks they have an anxiety disorder or knows they do and you just need more information. This website has a lot of information and resources and can assist with a multitude of issues. I strongly recommend taking a look at the site and the reference material it offers.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is essentially a catch all for nonspecific anxiety triggers most of us call them phobias. “GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more symptoms” . When I read this I realized that at several points in my life this applied to me. GAD isn’t a constant condition it can come and go but I’ve found in my travels that more often than not it is always present just to varying degrees.

From the Website: “GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.”

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety doesn’t care about your ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

I thought this excerpt from the site was particularly potent. 6.8 million adults… Ya we aren’t alone. I found it very interesting that they claim women are twice as likely to be affected. I can logically extrapolate some instances why, pregnancy, physical appearance and family pressures come to mind. The worse part though is the multitude of factors and the lack of specificity as to why this occurs.

Essentially anything can trigger this, maybe you went to a concert Saturday and your ears were ringing when you got up the next day “am I going to go deaf?” you ask yourself. A common seemingly sterile situation right? So the next time you don’t hear something correctly are you now delving back into anxiety? Technically yes, again its degree’s but you are anxious about a future outcome based on an example of the past. You can’t absolutely say that your past experience will be identical to your future outcome but it’s your best gauge.

Then you begin to think “god if I just didn’t go to that concert I wouldn’t have this issue” and on and on it goes. That’s just one very simple example but it’s a prelude to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There is no definitive moment as to when it begins for anyone, but when you are “in the moments” of anxiety you know it. The sensations are unique to everyone but if you’ve had panic attacks you know the gambit it can run. You can be highly functional and then for days struggle to get out of bed because you can’t overcome the anxiety.

Then, one day you feel good. Not perfect, not “wow that was silly I am free and clear” but the fog clears for you and you go on without worrying about it at all. This is GAD and it can flip day to day, week to week for your entire life. Knowledge is power and remember you aren’t alone. There are millions of people all over the world that have anxiety and deal with it sometimes daily, sometimes randomly sometimes just situationally with specific phobias. Hang in there, one day at a time.

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Anxiety – An hour matters     

This is going to be a quick post today but I think it’s a critical “add on” for your life that if you can execute your anxiety will improve. All of us have things going on, work, kids, pets, significant others, parents. On top of that we have 24-7 access to screens which enable us to view every bit of information (good or bad) that is occurring in real time. The environment for anxiety is horrible right now.

There is one quick thing you can do, take an hour. Yes 1 hour a day where the screens are shut off and you do something else. “Well what the hell am I supposed to do?” That’s a good question, below is a list of things I do on my hour.

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Read a book or magazine
  3. Take a nap
  4. Stare at the ceiling
  5. Sit in my car
  6. Go for a drive

Now of course some of these activities aren’t going to be a full hour, they may be more or less. The point here is you have to invest into yourself and recapture time. Time is the most valuable commodity in the world, hands down. By taking 1 hour for yourself you are creating a habit. Ideally this habit grows and you start demanding more then an hour. Soon you will be creating time spaces in your life where you are doing the things you want to do, when you want to do them.

But first, you have to find and take an hour. You can do that.

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My first and only post about Will Smith

No I haven’t been living under rock, I do keep up with pop culture. Everyone knows the story by now, Will Smith smacks Chris Rock. The fallout for Will Smith is likely incalculable. We really can’t forecast what this move will do to his career, its likely he threw away millions in future earnings. I can’t speculate on what is going on in his head, I’ve heard all the stories about his wife and what people suppose their relationship is like. I don’t know.

Here is what I do know:

  1. The act of physically harming someone is assault
  2. Assault is a crime
  3. Normally the victim or someone on the victim’s behalf contacts the police
  4. If the police have probable cause and or proof of an assault they can arrest.
    1. There are caveats: The police can arrest without the victim pressing charges.
    1. The police can choose not to arrest, even if the victim presses charges.
  5. Pressing charges by the victim does not mean that the one committing the crime will be charged at all. Only a prosecutor can actually “press” charges.

Those are all formalities really. Here is the thing, Will Smith is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and the assault he committed is not extremely egregious. His biggest exposure would be civil based on how Chris Rock took the slap and if he claims it may damage his career. Will Smith would never do time for this, unless he had several other convictions on his record which he doesn’t.

What should happen? I think the court of public opinion will extract justice here. The smiths will forever be linked to this episode, Will and his wife will never live it down. Too bad too because he won the Oscar for best actor for King Richard and he absolutely earned it, it was a stellar performance. Should he have to give it back? Ya probably but Hollywood is comprised of some of the biggest hypocrites in the world. Harvey Weinstein kept his Oscars. Remember him? The sleaze bag who took advantage of women for decades and went to jail. He still has his.

Always remember people are human and they make mistakes. Some mistakes are more spectacular than others. When you have great gifts and great blessings, you also can have great failures. That’s what we witnessed, it’s really too bad.

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Enough

Anxiety issues – It’s about to start again – U.S. Politics

Many of my readers reside overseas. I can never thank you enough for your support, truly thank you. I am U.S. based and a lot of my readers are in the U.S. As many of you know the U.S. has 3 distinct branches of government, Executive, Judicial, Legislative. I’m not going to rail on and on about politics here, but there is a reality if you live in the U.S. everything is very political. It stems from the very origins of our country, it was literally a political revolution and centuries later many of us in the U.S. have very deep rooted political beliefs.

Now for those of us with anxiety? It’s another thing we have to deal with and in 2022 it’s a mine field. You see cancel culture is real, mob mentality is real, identity politics is real. It’s all abstract of course if you happen to be on the right side of the current narrative. Until you aren’t, and then it all goes to shit fast. This is why it’s an anxiety mine field because many of us, tens of millions don’t fit into a simple definition. You might be in favor of let’s say gay marriage but the notion of abortion may make your stomach turn.

Where do you fall then? There is less and less flexibility within the U.S. culture. There is extreme vitriol and empowerment to many bad actors on both sides. This is not an exclusively left or right issue. Alas those of us with anxiety, we have to navigate this mine field of correctly assessing the people in the room and what they might think if a particular issue comes up.

Vote
A two party system doesn’t have enough options

Let me give you an example. What if you are at a bar having a drink with a few friends. The place is packed, people are chatting and one of them says “So do you think Trump should run in 2024?” Or maybe you are asked “So do you think Hilary should run in 2024?”. No matter where you are now seemingly easy questions based on you personally feel can become social land mines. Your answer, depending on who hears it could result in someone physically assaulting you. It could result in people buying you a drink.

The point is politics in the U.S. has become so divisive that we are nearly (and in some cases are) at each other’s throats. So what does this have to do with now? In the U.S. we have something called the “mid-term elections” basically every 2 years we have some form of state and local elections that affect the federal landscape. The terms of our elected officials are staggered so we always have something….

In the U.S. and likely abroad you are going to start to hear more and more about these and the potential outcomes. Villains will be trotted out, Hero’s exclaimed etc. The end of the world might even make an appearance “If this many seats change hands we are doomed” (something along those lines). So for those of us with Anxiety it’s just more B.S. we have to deal with. Very little changes in a two party system anyway. Democrats and Republicans are not vastly different, if we look at the ACTUAL RESULTS PRODUCED.

What they say of course are remarkably different but really not much changes day to day for average Americans. Sure media outlets and your favorite commentators on social media will get more clicks and they make more money but hey, who said the business of politics is clean? So hang in there, it will pass but the volume will be turned up this late spring into summer. The regular shenanigans will occur, you have survived it before you will make it this time too. Just remember, do your part and vote.

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stressed-out-woman

Anxiety & Partners – How one thing leads to another

Many of us with Anxiety have specific anxiety triggers that start the cycle. Sitting in traffic, boss at work, walking the dog and talking to neighbors. If you have anxiety you know your triggers. One issue that turns bad moments into really bad moments is the accumulation of stress events. There are so many possible triggers it’s hard to list them all here but here are a couple of examples:

  • Out of sugar for your coffee
  • You spilled a little bit of the coffee
  • Your Toe itches
  • You hit your knee on your desk
  • You got a robo call on your cell

Little things right? The list could go on and on but the point is one thing leads to another and before you know it there are 5 things happening that are increasing your anxiety. From any one of these examples you could begin the anxiety cycle. There really isn’t a whole lot you can do about it either. Triggers are random and your life is unlike anyone else’s. Maybe you have an electric socket at your place that shorts out often? Maybe from time to time your pet relieves itself on the floor?

The point is stress triggers anxiety and anxiety for many of us can lead to debilitating conditions where we rationalize not getting out of bed for days. Here is an older article I have used in the past that talks about “snowball stress”, it’s essentially the same concept of “one thing leads to another”. The survey was conducted in England, it isn’t offering any solutions, but it does identify some key triggers.

Often Anxiety is like and itch you just can’t scratch.

“On average, Brits have 60 bad days every year, and the effects of the bad day run deep, with 70 percent of people saying they are unable to hide it if they’re in the midst of a doomed day.

On the upside, 36 percent of Brits say that their partner is the one person who can make them snap out of a bad mood, 31 percent said their pet does the trick, and slightly more than the 29 percent say their kids help most.

And it appears that some human contact can make us feel better, with 44 percent saying that a cuddle is most likely to cheer them up, followed by someone making them laugh (40 percent), watching TV (33 percent) and playing with their pet (30 percent).”

Of course in my examples I didn’t cover anything about our “partners” if you are in a relationship it’s likely your stress is triggered by the person you care a lot about. Why? This isn’t tricky but it’s something many of us are loathe to admit, we care a lot about what this other person thinks. Moreover, that person may not understand our anxiety triggers or (even worse) they understand completely and use it as a relationship tool. You can’t avoid things like leaving your lunch at home, or stepping in dog crap. Things like that happen randomly they will happen to you, you just have to get through it.

However, your choice of partner is something you have control over. If someone in your life plays a starring role in your stress talk to them and confront them. It’s critical that you communicate clearly what they are doing that affects you. Doing so is healthy, and always make them aware that it affects you because you care about them and you care about what they think. This will soften the conversation but a good understanding partner can be the difference between having a good day or having a stressful one.

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