I’m going to try a new thing where I use Siri to dictate my voice while I multitask so that I can publish. We’ll see how it goes, and I predict that there will be a lot of grammatical and punctuation errors, ha ha! I might even try publishing them without proofing just for the sake of getting content out. We’ll see.
The passed couple days I’ve been experiencing strange anxiety in the mornings, I don’t know where it’s been coming from I have been trying meditation to calm down. It will work for a little bit, like a half hour or an hour, but quite easily it will come back. It’s a strange kind of anxiety that makes me worry that I have unfinished business or that I’m forgetting something. Even feels like I am about to let somebody down, or not meet expectations. It feels very current, very specific. It happens when I’m getting ready for my day and about to leave for work, when I have to think about things I need to have with me for the day. I constantly feel like I am about to forget some important part of my uniform or some other equipment. It’s a really strange thing, because it feels like residual anxiousness from an event that happened a week ago, but nothing has happened since so I don’t know why I would still be concerned about it. It just bubbles up and I wish I knew where it came from.
What I’ve learned from casually studying Buddhism is that sometimes understanding the cause of something isn’t important, and rather just being conscious of an emotion’s existence is more important. Being mindful of it in itself can be calming. And the subject of anxiety concerns me because my wife also somewhat suffers from it. I try to help her and she tries to help me, but since neither of us are professionals we can only do so much. Neither of us are basketcases, rest assured! But the more I listen the more I noticed that many people feel the pressure of anxiety. It’s more commonplace than I thought. But that could be the same affect as when you buy a unique looking car and then notice that everybody else has that car (I’m sure there’s a term for that).
The meditation app I use has a coach to guide you, and in this morning’s meditation he was talking about balance and being aware of where you are, emotionally and physically. And then he said, “Recognize this is who you are,” and IT FREAKED ME OUT! It put a finger right on the problem I was trying to identify (ironically when it was trying to bring me inner peace). I think much of what I have been worrying about is inadequacy. And I think that is what many people’s anxiety comes from because I see it demonstrated often.
I’m in a really unique blip of my life right now. In my current job there is no use for my degree. For better or worse, I have come to identify myself with my degree. Probably because it’s where my talent lies, and now that I think about it, most people build their self-esteem off of their skills; I guess it’s really not that bad. So for that reason I have felt pretty value-less the past three and a half years I have worked in this job. About three months ago I started an internship as a content writer, and it has been fundamental in my self worth since I started! I’m finally able to use my skills that I have developed since elementary school and put $20K towards honing. I’m able to receive professional praise that not only builds my resume but feels good. This validation has rippled into other parts of my life, including my day job and even my marriage. The results surprise me more than they should: it’s a no-brainer that when people feel good about themselves their general performance in all arenas of life improves.
And this has me thinking about several things. When I was a professional missionary, I remember that once I had some experience under my belt, finally got the swing of things, and became good at what I was doing I became a happier person. Not only was I happier but I was better at talking to people, persuasion, referencing scripture, and even just being more compassionate. Maybe that’s because God really does exist and his power was being manifested through me into enhancing and building my character. Or maybe it’s just simple psychology. I have some friends that currently have struggles I’ve had in the past, and I try to help them. Sometimes they appreciate my points and other times they just want to be left alone, which I completely understand. No one likes to be told they’re inadequate at something, and even just someone giving them advice makes them feel lower than the advisor. I try really hard not to elevate myself to appear like an expert, but rather that I have just gone through these problems myself and I want to help them avoid them and shorten the learning curve as much as possible. Maybe I’m trying to rush things, and maybe organic experience is just the best teacher and I should accept that. It’s difficult to watch others go through avoidable pain.
Inadequacy seems to be the root reason behind many people’s anxiety. I see it in myself, I see that in my friends and family, and maybe I am over applying the concept but it seems like it may be pretty widespread. Honestly, I am aware I could be projecting. Like I have said, I am not a psychologist, so it’s difficult to be empirical about it. But the knowledge I have, it makes me wonder why so many people feel inadequate.
I helped a co-worker at the gym today who was quite small in stature. She didn’t have a lot of knowledge about using gym equipment or about strength training in general. I know enough to avoid injuring myself and to build a little bit of mass, so I offered my help. Afterwards she thanked me for being so patient, and I explained to her that I know that others need a lot of patience with me in somethings so I try to be understanding of others. And that basic idea has been a reason for much of my character change in the past few years: from the LGBTQ community to the religious community, I feel more accepting of others because I want to be accepted myself. I think with a little more empathy the world would go a lot further. I’m not perfect, so why do I have a place to judge?
Mental health has been a trending topic since the Parkland shooting, and people say that toxic masculinity is the reason for the shootings, or bullying is the reason, or this or that is the reason. I don’t think that compassion will solve all the worlds problems, because some people are just resilient to it and stubbornly want to be terrible people. More compassion will help though. While I was helping my cohort, I was using light weights to demonstrate what I thought she should do, one of her superiors, whom I am friends with, came up to give me razz me about how little I was lifting. I thought it was funny, no big deal. But I can tell from the way that she responded to him and tried standing up to him that they didn’t have the same relationship and he and I. I told her that I wasn’t offended by him because we have that kind of camaraderie. I didn’t mind it when I came from him; but if it were from a particular meathead in my office I probably would.
It’s interesting to see a dynamic that I have in my own life play out in somebody else’s. Because there’s lots of times where that happens: a lot of times where I feel like I’m being judged by someone too harshly. Seeing it from this angle gave me perspective. Kind of made me want to relax a little bit and not take things so seriously. Maybe I am just playing it up and being a victim in my own head. Maybe I feel like that because I judge people too harshly myself. It takes one to know one.
What I’m really curious about is if modern American anxiety is something that we’ve all had as humans since forever and cave-painting days, or if it is just something that’s recent, and manifested in current mass shootings. I know that we as people of today are fundamentally different from the people of our past, from the Victorian age compared to today’s age. Even our parents of the Baby-Boomer generation would say that they are very different from their parent’s generation, so you can imagine how Millennial’s differ from our grandparents. The way that we communicate and the way our families function affect society as a whole. Technology and modern communication have shaped the modern world, and I wonder how they have a hand in modern psychology and well-being. I wouldn’t be surprised if our inadequacies and self-esteem and anxieties are rooted in the altered forms of interpersonal communication that we so often use.
These ideas aren’t perfect, and I would very much like to discover and discuss them with you. I’m not against adapting my believes and understandings, especially where they fall short. Please help me flesh out and develop them in the comments below.