|Breathe. You’re going to be okay. Breathe and remember that you’ve been in this place before. You’ve been this uncomfortable and anxious and scared and you’ve survived. Breathe and know that you can survive this too. These feelings can’t break you. They’re painful and debilitating, but you can sit with them and eventually, they will pass. Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon, they are going to fade and when they do, you’ll look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your resilience. I know it feels unbearable right now, but keep breathing, again and again. This will pass. I promise it will pass.
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Procrastination. We all do it. We all feel bad about it. Yet it remains among the most common of bad habits of the average daily life. We can ask ourselves why, but the most obvious explanations are abundantly clear. Fundamentally, in the short-term, it is simply easier.
Not only is it easier, our minds have become quite clever at creating an endless list of excuses (or really just reasons masquerading as excuses) to justify it. Ask me why I watch more television than I probably should and I’ll answer: because it creates more relaxation in a smaller amount of time than anything else I know. I get the most bang for my buck and that’s great value. And when I’m looking for relaxation, or anything for that matter, it makes sense to go with the option that offers the most instant gratification with the smallest investment possible. Are these things true? Yes, they definitely are. They appear to be completely rational thoughts. Are these things false? Yes, they definitely are. It’s all about perspective really, and I think most of us know this. Most of us know that procrastinating may bring more relaxation into our lives today or this week, but it certainly won’t bring more relaxation into our lives this month or this year.
Sometimes we can get so busy that we can go through days or weeks without even noticing that we’ve wandered into procrastination territory again. The fact is, that aside from being easier, for many procrastination does serve additional and significant purposes. It is this dynamic that keeps us stuck in it despite knowing that it will rarely truly work to our benefit.
For me, right now my most important task is committing to a regular writing routine which includes creating blog posts, articles, an e-mail newsletter, another e-Book, etcetera. Writing is key to the success of business online. My problem is that to me, writing feels like public speaking, and I have always struggled with any form of public speaking. I actually rarely think about this, but I always know its the root of this problem. Its why I find myself putting off my writing until I review one or several of my texts, or read something new, or both… Sometimes even work can be procrastination in disguise…
Recently I read the following quote and had one of those ah-hah moments where I questioned what I’ve been doing for the last several weeks:
If a man for whatever reason has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.
Jacques Yves Cousteau
It made me realize that while indulging my avoidance tactics, however below awareness they were, and however alternatively productive they are, I am not only sparing myself some discomfort that I can easily get over with practice, but I’m depriving others of what I have to offer that would be helpful to their lives. Caught up in my silly concerns that some people are not going to love or even like what I have to say, I lost my awareness of those that will. I don’t need to save the entire planet, I don’t need the whole world to agree with me. I just need to focus on what matters – the fact that there are people out there who will benefit from what I have to say. That’s enough for me.
What this all boils down to is that sometimes procrastination is just procrastination, and sometimes its more than that. We owe it to ourselves, and to the people that matter to us if and when the situation applies, to take a closer look at what is going on. There can be many explanations for your procrastination – avoidance, fear of failure, ambivalent motivation, guilt, grief – the possibilities are endless really. Fortunately, procrastination is not…
It is somewhat ironic that I return to my blog after a seven month absence to write about a book I recently read called My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel. While it is clearly not ironic or surprising to encounter a blog entry on anxiety at 4peaceofmind, it is ironic because it is anxiety that has kept me away from my blog.
Those who have explored my site thoroughly will know that the theme of my blog is the following quote from John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” To put it simply, that is the kind of year I had last year. It was difficult, but necessary. Painful, but in many ways quite helpful, and like all challenges, a great learning experience. And being me, of course anxiety was holding my hand tightly the whole way through like my own personal vigilante superhero.
To be honest, anxiety has kept me away from a lot of things. Having had it since the age of 8, I do not expect to ever be completely without it. Although I definitely do hope to eventually be without it and have integrated many strategies for managing it. And I think that’s the best I can do. Accept it as a part of who I am and be willing to take it along for the ride. And of course on many occasions, hate it and curse it as the relentless terrorizer that it is.
A close friend bought me this book for Christmas and I had it finished in little time. Anyone with anxiety will likely already be familiar with the various treatment approaches outlined in the book. What they may not be familiar with are the different perspectives described in the book, both historical and current, and all quite interesting. They may also not realize how many famous people also suffer, or have suffered from, some form of anxiety. These people include Cicero, Gandhi, Barbara Streisand, Hugh Grant, Moses, Freud, and the list goes on and on. Very successful people struggle with anxiety too yet still persevere and reach their full potential.
Anxiety kills relatively few people, but many more would welcome death as an alternative to the paralysis and suffering resulting from anxiety in its severe forms.
David H. Barlow, Anxiety and Its Disorders (2004) in My Age of Anxiety, Scott Stossel (2013)
I wouldn’t necessarily call this a self-help book or recommend it for that purpose. While it is easy to read, at times it does read like a textbook due to all the research and information which is so thorough and comprehensive. It really is beyond impressive.
I would still recommend this book though to those who struggle with any form of anxiety. The reason I would do so is the writer Scott Stossel. He is so honest and open with his own struggles with this exhausting and torturing source and symptom of a variety of disorders. Not only is the book completely validating, it also gives you the gift of really knowing and truly feeling that you are not alone in this. Sometimes just that knowledge and feeling grants strength, courage, and peace of mind more than anything else can…