Beliefnet
Serenity in an Age of Anxiety

Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering- and it’s all over much too soon.  Woody Allen

 

Robert* was having trouble sleeping. His brain would not turn off. Was his business ever going to be successful?  There was barely enough money to pay the bills. Then there was dating, which was about as fun as gout. Worst, no matter how hard he worked or tried to be a good person, he was wracked with fears and a sense of worthlessness.

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He tried therapy to no avail. Talking about the past made him feel guilty because he could never come up with any trauma or solid reason to explain why he felt so weighed down. His parents annoyed him but were unfailingly supportive. He did not enjoy high school or college not because they were particularly awful but because he felt overwhelmed no matter how reasonable the demands. No amount of exercise, meditation or dietary adjustments calmed his unsettled mind either.

 

Robert was certain there was a logical explanation for why life felt so hard.  Scientists have proven there are biochemical changes involving inflammation and/or activation of the anterior cingulate cortex that correspond with Robert’s symptoms. The conventional recommendation, if therapy fails, is medication (or medical cannabis if he lives in a state where this is legal). These remedies can temporarily alleviate the symptom of anxiety but there is a lesser known reason for anxiety that might help him develop a better long-term solution.

 

Robert’s anxiety could be the natural reaction to trying to solve the wrong problem. If a doctor diagnoses symptoms incorrectly and prescribes unsuitable medicine, the patient gets nasty side effects. Robert believes a deficiency in his life, the world or himself has caused an existential sense of uneasiness.  Existential meaning it comes with being human. Robert is simply more aware that something is not quite right or missing and is frantically and continuously trying to fix what he perceives to be the cause.

 

The real cause of Robert’s anxiety is not his personality flaws, dysfunctional dating life or the latest devastating famine or environmental disaster (though they are worrisome issues requiring attention). Something is not quite right and missing from his life.  The feelings of unworthiness, not belonging and devastating loneliness, these are the true problems.  Only when he knows who he really is and what he is doing here will he start to calm down. He may benefit from behavioral changes and solving some of his external issues will temporarily soothe his fears but to quote the late comic Gilda Radner, ‘it is always something’. Enough somethings to distract him endlessly if he fails to recognize anxiety as the symptom of disconnect he feels at a soul level.

 

We are energy beings. When reduced to the smallest atomic particles, we are not made up of particles at all but condensed balls of energy. Those balls of energy are part of a vast field of energy that links us all together. There is an awe-inspiring amount of potential in the field around us.  One physicist claims if harnessed, the potential in the molecules in the space inside a coffee cup, could boil the water in all the oceans of the world. If we could tap into it, we would never need another tank of gas or electrical plug for anything.

 

At a level below consciousness, we are connected and supported by and to everything around us.  Call that God, the Field, the Force or mashed potatoes.  Its name does not matter. When we feel alone and worried, we have forgotten we are part of something bigger than ourselves and mistakenly believe it is possible to be separate and abandoned. While it is possible to be betrayed or mistreated via the actions of people, it is impossible not to be part of the whole. Anxiety and fear (and all their irritating relatives) are the symptoms. The illusion of separation is the real problem (or disease) and the thing we sense is not quite right or missing.

 

Next time: What Einstein Knew

*Not his real name

 

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