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Why Having 2020 Vision is Great for Anxiety
Anxiety is an Epidemic
We are hurtling into 2020 which has that magical number connotation. The concept of having clarity is often coined as “having 2020 vision”, and so this month we discuss why getting clarity through having a vision and a plan, can be a powerful antidote to mental states such as anxiety.
Anxiety is often associated with the generalised or specific fear of something not yet realised that is anticipated to be lurking in our future timeline. As such we can work with our future timeline to create the basis to resolve or lessen some of those fear based states like anxiety.
As anxiety is reaching epidemic proportions amongst our children, teenagers and adults, with Mission Australia now stating from their research that 1 in 3 Western Australians are grappling with some sort of mental health issue. Anxiety is one of the main issues children and adults report as being the basis of their mental health concerns.
Anxiety comes from the fight or flight system within the brain. It signals that there is some sort of real or perceived threat ahead of us for which we have not yet dealt with. Anxiety is a fear state and renders sufferers as feeling powerless, victimised and hyper-vigilant.
Anxiety can be found to take hold as people struggle in this era of constant disruptive change, threatening extreme environmental events, slowing economy, and social fragmentation due to digital technology and time shortages in many people’s lives. There is one key step we each can take to lessen anxiety and reduce the powerlessness that many feel and experience in their life.
The Key to Anxiety is Clarity
That key step is to build a foundation of clarity in one’s life. Clarity is a state grounded in reality whose function is primarily to arrive at an objective true conclusion, or to resolve confusion to a peaceful state of acceptance and realisation. Clarity as a mental factor is a natural opponent and antidote to states of anxiety as the threat that haunts an anxious mind, is resolved and replaced by certainty, conclusion or discrimination.
The outcome in these resulting minds is a more peaceful state which reduces anxiety and calms the mind. Clarity is a mind that is also grounded in reality and logic, rather than emotion, reactivity or simple belief. We can all apply a few techniques which enable us to gain a bit of clarity and to work towards reducing our anxiety.
These techniques often relate to the way we think, communicate and act. Some of these include:
- Ask yourself what facts already exist about whatever is causing myself anxiety? Facts provide a reality check and establish reality. An anxious mind will tend to speculate and distort such that it generates a negative fantasy of what has or may happen and what consequences may occur as a result.
- What’s the real issue? A lot of people carry anxiety as their mind forms a wrong conclusion about an issue and even forms a distorted idea of what issue exists. Some people create an issue and project it onto another and magically think that person is having the same thought or idea about whatever issue is disturbing the first person. In many cases the second person is not thinking that way.
- Get a Reality Check. If an issue exists or you perceive it exists, then contact any other person involved and take a reality check. Asking another person if they do have an issue with you, or establishing the facts with an authority about some incident you feel will have consequences for you, can lead to a relief when you hear the reality of what that issue represents in actuality.
- Converse with others in ways that defuse tensions when trying to establish the issue that is generating the anxiety. If you want someone to answer you openly and honestly, rather than defensively, it is best to first give them some background information on why you are approaching them. This puts your intent first, so they don’t have to assume it.
- Listen to others. Anxious people tend to stop listening and so block new information entering their mind which might defuse their anxiety or pop the distortions they hold. It is essential to listen and remain calm. While it can be easier said than done, it helps to look at the big picture rather than focus on just your idea of what’s going on. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying, rather than commanding the conversation and letting your emotions such as fear take over.
- Clarity is best obtained by shifting the mind out of fear and into inquiry and curiosity. This is best done by asking questions and using the previous active listening skill to set aside closed thinking.
- Keep in mind that anxiety is often a fantasy we create in ourself, then clarity is also gained by accepting and exploring the mind of the other person, or dynamic at play. Anxiety may arise due to people having different perceptions. You, or the other person, saw things differently. Too many people see differing perceptions as a sign of being in conflict with that person. It need not be like that. This happens most frequently when one is dealing with someone from another organization, background, or culture. It’s easy to believe that we all see things the same way and then get a shock to find our position not agreed to by another. This can create anxiety.
- Deal with your fear of anger and see conflict as merely two different perspectives that can be equally true in the sense that we have a right to hold a personal truth that another might not share, but which does not then mean that the other person no longer likes me, harbours anger against me, or is in conflict with me.
- Get a professional opinion. Too many people try to analyse situations, even legal ones, and create a conclusion that may be flawed. Technical, legal, procedural, or financial issues often do not play out in black and white ways, but each have negotiable pathways to deal with issues that the public has around what they represent. Too many people assume and stress falsely on such issues without getting valid advice that provides clarity and a factual foundation on which to think about the issue.
- What’s the worst thing that can happen as a result of this issue. Simply put, too many people sweat the small stuff when in fact the worst consequence is minor and not worth stressing about. Apply this test and ask yourself is the anxiety worth it given its real consequence?
- Establish what can I influence and what I cannot change or influence. Author Wayne Dyer wisely said, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” You can control your own behaviours and responses but you cannot control others or the outcome. You can advocate for yourself in the context of a relationship and if resolution cannot be achieved, you can empower yourself to change the boundaries of that relationship or perhaps even end it altogether.
- Shift your mind to forgiveness. Try to focus on forgiving yourself if you made a mistake. You are human and you made a mistake. Let it go and if required reach out and either forgive the other person, or seek their forgiveness if you wronged them somehow. This type of mind adopts an attitude that is grateful for the learning experience, works towards acceptance, forgives and let go of the past or the person, even yourself.
If you adopt these approaches then clarity will emerge for any issue you may be grappling with. Getting 2020 vision around any issue will ground you in reality and provide an inhibiting effect on the brain’s tendency to storytell alarmist and negative stories about what we perceive may be going on, in absence of clarity. Give it a try.