I realize that is a quite a wordy title but it gets my point across so bear with me.
As a twenty something and a human being, I have within me an innate, nagging need to know everything right here, right now.
Why leave everything up in the air and feel anxious when I can try to figure it all out and feel super content?
NEWS FLASH: Energy spent on trying to figure it all out is the quickest and shortest path to full-blown anxiety.
When we yearn for certainty it is usually driven by a discrepancy between where we are and where we want to be. You may envision yourself as a successful film agent in Hollywood but instead you are working a boring finance job and living with your parents. You acknowledge the discrepancy, instantly begin to think of solutions to get from A to B, can’t think of anything on the spot and before you know it, anxiety has set up camp.
It’s a vicious cycle that has a way of sneaking up on you.
The first time I realized the gravity of how hard my own discrepancies were affecting me took place a little over two years ago.
I was working as a full-time nanny, a title I had held since I moved to Chicago a year earlier. Within that year, I bounced from family to family trying to find the right fit, not realizing how miserable I was because this was so far from what I had envisioned for myself.
I had spent a Saturday researching blogs and articles written by other 20-something’s that were traveling the word, writing for respected publications, all in all, making life happen for themselves.
I babysat that night for the family I worked for full-time and noticed that frequently throughout the night I had shortness of breath and a tightness in my chest. I didn’t think much of it and after the kids went to bed, lounged on the couch watching a thought-provoking episode of The Real Housewives.
All of a sudden, my body became extremely warm and I couldn’t catch my breath. My heart was pounding out of my chest and my hands were shaking uncontrollably
I called my mom to announce the most reasonable explanation I could think of at the time, “Mom, pretty sure I’m dying.”
If you’ve ever had a panic attack you know that the biggest fear after is having another one. I was scared out of my pants. I feared I would have one driving the kids in downtown Chicago or on the jam-packed train.
I began to see a therapist and realized these symptoms arose from the millions of thoughts going in and out my head each day about how unhappy was. The discrepancy became so extreme that it needed an outlet.
A few months later, I quit my nanny job. But two years later, I still find myself struggling with a lot of the same issues. Luckily, I’ve become better equipped in handling them.
The bottom line is, regardless of age, success, failures, experiences, dollar amount in your bank account, facebook status, you will never have it fully figured out.
There is no EUREKA! moment.
But you do have a choice: continue to obsess over having the answers or expend your time and energies into working toward your goals while settling into the peace of not knowing. Either way, you aren’t going to know so you can either fight it or ride out the current.
Making peace with the unknown does not mean sitting back and watching everything unfold with no responsibility on your part. It is quite the opposite actually.
When you are content with not knowing all the answers, you will discover more peace and clarity than every before. You can’t seek peace with a negative, anxious outlook. This outlook will only bring you more of the same: ANXIETY.
Since the anxious mindset probably isn’t working out too hot for you, try adapting a more peaceful one. Here are a few tips for developing a more peaceful mindset:
1.) Practice mindfulness
Even if you only take a few minutes out of everyday to quiet those thoughts that drive you to insanity, I guarantee you will see a shift in clarity. Close your eyes, set your alarm for 5 minutes, and observe your thoughts. When a thought of, “But how will I pay my rent if I don’t get this off the ground?” pops up, pretend you are observing it from the outside looking in. That thought doesn’t own you. It’s nothing more than a though and therefore, holds no truth.
I often think of something I heard years ago in reference to negative self-talk: If you think, There is a bear sitting right beside me. Will that bear be there when you open your eyes? Ofcourse not. It’s the same idea when you think, “I could never make this happen. I’m going to miserable forever.” This doesn’t make it true when you open your eyes.
2.) Break down what is causing you so much anxiety
If you are worried about getting a book deal for that book you haven’t even penned yet, start smaller. Write everything out. I can’t stress how much it helps to physically write out what you want to accomplish. Instead of making “write a book” your number 1, start smaller with writing 300 words tomorrow or 500 words by Friday. If I had developed this mindset sooner, I truly believe I’d have accomplished a lot more by now. But then I wouldn’t be able to express what I should have done with all of you, right? Silver lining, people.
I don’t like go overboard with tips and strategies because if you’re anything like me, they can become a little overwhelming. 9 steps to do anything seems extreme at this point in the game. Remember you can’t win the game of the unknown so choose to pull yourself out of the game and focus on what you can control: your mind-set.