I am often the kind of person that worries about things I cannot control. I didn’t always worry so frequently, but I have had this element of anxiety and worry within me even from a young age.
I remember that as a young girl I was troubled by this recurring fear that a robber would come in the middle of the night and abduct my parents or kidnap my sister and I from our home. This fear was, of course, not rational or based on any realistic indications that this would actually happen; my family and I lived in one of the safest areas around. Generally, the only crime to be heard of was underage drinking. Regardless, at times I would have nightmares with this anxiety as it’s theme.
Eventually, I grew out of this particular fear, but throughout my life, this element of fearing the worst or the uncontrollable has manifested in many different ways and through various types of anxieties.
It’s a paradox, because I wouldn’t classify myself as an anxious person. I am generally collected and calm, but sometimes, I will fixate on one particular worry or fear and this worry can dominate my thinking.
However, as I am maturing, I am learning how to cope with life’s uncertainties and ultimately, I am learning how to thrive in an uncertain world, where nothing is guaranteed and where our futures are not something we can know in advance.
What I am finding is that as we all face difficult emotions such as fear, panic, depression or despair, we are given a choice. We can choose to allow these destructive energies to consume us and dominate our lives, or we can work with them, and ultimately transcend them.
I believe we can transcend a dismal perspective in several core ways: ultimately, we allow ourselves to let go. Letting go doesn’t mean not caring about the problems in the world or not preparing for the worst, but it means developing the ability to accept life and it’s uncertainty with grace and humility. It means looking life straight in the eye and saying: “Alright life, no matter what happens, I’m in.” It’s saying ‘yes’ to life. So essentially, to live a fearless life, we must fully embrace life, and that means all of life- even the parts of it we wouldn’t choose to experience.
I’m learning to overcome my anxious predisposition by seeing that my anxiety is ultimately a wasteful expenditure of energy. It’s true that the future for myself and my loved ones could be one of pain or difficulties; it’s true that we ultimately do not know the meaning of life and that we must live in an existence that ultimately provides us with no explanations; it’s true that we don’t actually know what exactly will happen when we inevitably pass away. Most notably, it’s true that we can spend our lives dwelling on life’s uncertainties and be frozen in fear by the possibility of the undesirable becoming a reality. Yet, we can also choose to strive everyday to make the most of this life we have been given, and to not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of despair or fear.
So, even if you can’t control life and you can’t fully understand it, how does worry, anxiety, or depression serve you? Clearly, I realize these states of mind can be extremely difficult to transcend and in some cases, troubling emotions can be a cause of a chemical imbalance that makes a positive outlook very difficult to obtain.
However, I still believe that ultimately we have a choice in life pertaining to how we choose to focus our energies. We can focus our energies on thoughts and feelings that sap us of vitality and bring us down, or we can do our best to focus on energies that nourish us and those around us.
We cannot change what life is or isn’t and we cannot predict the course of our lives, but what we can do is wake up every morning and do both ourselves and the rest of humanity a great service by striving for a positive, energizing, and nourishing outlook on life. We can wake up each morning and choose to do the absolute best we can with the life we’ve been given, and we can carry with us the wisdom that striving to be the best version of ourselves is all that we really can do, and that the rest we must accept as out of our control.
I am seeing with experience that our lives often take a course that we do not anticipate or hope for. We almost always think we know what is best for us, and that just because we want something, means it should be so; but maybe this is untrue. I cannot even count the many times throughout my life that I have truly believed I knew what the best path for me was when it wasn’t, that I thought I had accurately judged a persons character when I hadn’t, and that I believed I knew all there was to know about a particular subject when I didn’t. Over and over again life has shown me that I am often not able to fully perceive a situation accurately based on a limited perspective.
Thus, I am finding that in order to maintain a sense of peace in life, it’s ultimately a game of trust and faith. What I mean by that is, you must ultimately trust in life and where it is guiding you. I never understood what faith truly meant until I realized that having faith means allowing yourself to trust without proof that ultimately your life is unfolding as it should, even if you cannot have evidence of that and even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
So, what do you think? Do you think you could wake up tomorrow and say “yes” to life, even to the seemingly grim and ugly aspects of life? Maybe you can’t right now, and maybe it will take time for you to be able to. Of course, I still can’t fully embrace all parts of life yet either.
However, all that any of us can do is work towards that level of acceptance and maturity by doing the best we know how to do. I fully believe that if you have the will and the intention to live a truly fulfilling life and it’s something you actively work on each day, you will get closer and closer each day to living a life free of fear and full of joy.