I am by nature a person who has a positive outlook on life. I feel that things will work out for me.
On rare occasions, however, I am taken by surprise when things don’t go my way. On those occasions I have had anxiety attacks, and have had to learn how to work out of them.
I have four ways I do this.
- Let the anxiety wear off
- Plan for contingencies
- Take medication
- Cultivate positive self-talk (calming voice speaking to me)
When surprises occur that shock my system, thus creating high anxiety, it almost always causes me to feel I have lost control over my life.
There are three conditions I can think of where I have felt a loss of control. Those involve loss of control over my financial future, loss of control over my professional future, and (when young) loss of control with female relationships.
LOSS OF CONTROL WITH A FEMALE RELATIONSHIP: there were certain times while growing up when dating would end up becoming rocky and dating would cease. Some of those times, even though I felt a bit depressed, I would just let the depression wear off, and it did fairly quickly. There was one time however when it didn’t. It put me in a crisis mode. I was within weeks of leaving the country for two years. I panicked. For the first time in my life I prayed frantically for relief. It worked surprisingly well. I didn’t question how that was able to happen, I was simply thankful it did happen. I didn’t analyze it too closely, because I was afraid it would jinx me, and throw me back into deep anxiety and depression.
LOSS OF CONTROL OVER MY PROFESSIONAL FUTURE: there was once when I felt trapped in my profession and believed that I would not advance any further than I had. On this occasion, a voice came to me, outside of my head, and gave me assurance that things would improve. The voice gave me a road map about how this would occur. It did. Of all the experiences I have had in relieving anxiety, this one was the most profound and long lasting. I have spent nearly half my life analyzing it.
LOSS OF CONTROL OVER MY FINANCIAL FUTURE: when I left one profession and entered a second one, there were both benefits and drawbacks. The benefit was that many times in my new profession I would earn as much in one month as I would in one year from my first profession. The drawback was that those great pay days can go down unexpectedly. And when it would come close to falling, I too would fall into deep anxiety. I overcame this anxiety in two ways. I would save and invest money as fast as I could. And two, I sought medical attention where I received medication to calm me down. Both strategies worked.
Of the five ways I have found relief, the three that have had the deepest impact on my personality are: receiving medication, contingency planning, and hearing a calming voice.
MEDICATION: I did not take any medication for anxiety until my early to mid-sixties. Acute battles with anxieties started occurring more frequently. Instead of one attack every fifteen years, it was cut to one every five years, then one every two years. Why these attacks happened more frequently could be attributable to greater risk taking and /or getting older. During my last attack about five years ago, my wife strongly suggested I seek medical advice. I did, and the doctor gave me a prescription for Lorazepam. Literally within hours of taking the pill my anxiety abated without lowering my energy level. I likened it unto a fire being dosed with water. Why, I asked myself, would anyone suffer if they could be treated with such effective medication? I felt I had received a new lease on life.
CONTINGENCY PLANNING: all high living has a break point where there are dips. I realized this and started disciplining myself to have enough money to live on comfortably if things got out of control with my business activities. Even today, when it isn’t really necessary, I still save money every month, invest it, and continually diversify my risk.
THE VOICE: this is the most mystical experience I have ever had. It has had the longest effect on me of all that I have experienced. Its results were so out of the ordinary that I spent years describing its residual effects in diaries. For those who cannot grasp such a mystical experience, I would say replace the word ”voice” with “positive self-talk”. (Also, look up the scientific literature on subjects like: the mind is not subject to locality; sounds and voices outside the human brain). The strength of these unique experiences was (is) that the voices, messages, and guideposts are positive. If they had been negative, I would have done everything in my power to stop them. But, they weren’t.
If you are subject to anxiety and depression, I would recommend three courses of possible cure.
- Plan for the down times. Make contingencies plans.
- Seek medical attention sooner rather than later.
- Fill your mind with positive talk.
The reason I don’t recommend letting anxiety “wear off” is that my suspicion is anxiety increases as we mature. Part of life is being exposed to the full plate of challenges that the average human being goes through. As we face all these, it’s not as easy to let things wear off. They usually don’t. So I adopt a proactive posture toward anxiety.
And the reason I don’t recommend prayer is that every day prayer is ceremonial, and I don’t want to confuse that with the kind of all out prayer I engaged in when I was really hurting emotionally. However, occasionally I combine prayer with positive self-talk.
Be careful to manage your strategies. All reality has an opposite pole to it. Medication is important, but its opposite pole is addiction, which results in a paradox. It creates the very thing it cured in the first place – that being more anxiety.
Be careful about doing too much contingency planning for the opposite end of contingency planning is hoarding. Hoarding ultimately retards the growth and adventure in life you ultimately were striving to accomplish in the first place.
Activating self-talk can bring about inner peace. Inner peace can be so satisfying that it turns you away from engaging the world and taking on challenges resulting in tension that produces progress.
All good things have their opposite tendency of turning into bad things if not managed. I know because I have experienced those opposite poles.
But, most importantly, do not let anxiety and depression overtake you. Act. Act now, act aggressively. In my opinion we’re here to create, to make things, to take on challenges, to overcome obstacles, to progress at the highest levels of which we are capable.
Anxiety and depression are bumps in the road. Like any other challenge we should have the tools and strategies to overcome or fix them while we continue on with our work.