- another name for challenge
During my second year of the University of New Delhi, a chance came
up for me to spend the summer holidays working on a dairy farm located
in the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, East Malaysian state of Sabah. My
friends used to tell me that the farm offers one of the most amazing
scenery one could envision, with the majestic Mount Kinabalu overlooking
miles of beautiful green pastures.
The idea of spending six weeks on this fabled farm was exciting.
After two days, however, I began to have second thoughts. What would it
be like in a strange country? What about the language? And besides, I
had promised a friend that I would spend the holidays with him in his
home-town in Bangalore. The more I thought about it, the more the
prospect daunted me.
In the end I turned down the proposition. A couple of weeks later, I
visited Bangalore. It was a spoilt holiday. I felt very low. I had a
guilty and nagging feeling for turning down something I wanted to do
because I was scared, and had ended up feeling depressed. And it didn't
help when I went back to university after the vacation to discover that
my replacement who went to Malaysia had a terrific time.
In the long run that unhappy summer vacation taught me a valuable
lesson out of which I developed a rule for myself: do what makes you
anxious. Don't do what makes you depressed.
I am not, of course, talking about severe states of anxiety or
depression which require medical attention. What I mean is that kind of
anxiety we call fright, butterflies in the stomach, a case of nerves -
the feelings we have at a important job interview or when we are giving
a big party where VIPs are in attendance or when we have to make an
important presentation at the office.
Three Ways to
Break Free from Anxiety for Good:
(1) Fix it
If you are plagued by anxiety then fix it.
Don't delay because that keeps your body in 'fight or
flight' mode. Anxiety results in feeling out of control so
identify what you do have control over and act on it. Only
self-doubt will keep you from taking action but taking
action builds self-trust - and self-trust reduces anxiety.
For example if you're worried about finance apply for that
job or reduce your outgoings; if you're worried about your
health, see a doctor or enrol with a health coach. Facing
the fear is empowering.
(2) If it
can't be fixed then let it go
Sounds too simple? Don't complicate it.
The art of letting go will serve you well if you take it
seriously. If there's something that's creating a lot of
anxiety that you have no control over, write it down and put
it in a special place and ask the 'future' to take care of
This is radical acceptance and a way of
engaging the compassionate self to bring about more clarity
and self-love. Accepting the way things are stops inner
conflict in its tracks and replaces it with a healing
presence that lays in the sacred space underneath our
your attention into this moment
Now you've either fixed the anxiety or let
it go, bring your focus into the present moment. Become
aware of your current thoughts and feelings. This brings
clarity into why you focus on the future and helps to
reframe your intention to strive for a more peaceful mind.
As you are reading these words take all
your attention from your over analytical mind and escort it
to your breath. Focus on your breath for one minute. Hear
the anxious words as if you were listening to someone else
but know they are an old habit and you no longer have to
obey them. Know that, in this moment, everything is fine and
just as it should be.
The great Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard believed that anxiety
always arise when we confront the possibility of our own development. It
seems to be a rule of life that you cannot advance without getting that
old, familiar, jittery feeling. Even as children we discover this when
we try to expand ourselves by, say, learning to ride a bicycle or going
out for a school play.
Later in life we get butterflies when we think about having that
first child, or uprooting the family from the hometown to find a better
opportunity half across the country. Anytime, it seems, that we set out
aggressively to get something we want, we meet up with anxiety. And it
is going to be our traveling companion. At least part of the way, into
any new venture.
Since I've practiced these steps I've discovered lightness and ease
that has replaced the anxiety. I now see that my need to try and control
the future left me no room to enjoy today.
The drive to control every outcome has left me, yet nothing outside
has changed. I had been trying to find happiness but instead I've learnt
to be free of unhappiness. My greatest achievement has been to embrace
uncertainty and learn to trust that everything is, and will be,
The point is that the new, the different, is almost by definition
scary. But each time you try something, you learn, and as the learning
piles up, the world opens to you. I've taken so many risks and
challenges in life. Few have failed. And I know I am going to go on
doing such things. It is not because I am braver or more daring than
others. I am not. But I don't let butterflies stop me from doing what I
want. I have accepted anxiety as another name for challenge.
If you can do that, nobody can stop you accomplishing those wonders.