Imagine you are standing in a dark room and the only light you have is a little flashlight.
How far does this flashlight reach?
How much of the room can you actually see?
The only visible thing is what the flashlight focuses on in that very moment.
Everything else is excluded from that view.
Does it mean it is not there?
Stress, anxiety, worry, depression (just to name a few) shine their light only on one thing:
It feels as if all the rest of our experience vanishes into the dark.
The focus is on what is lacking, not working, missing and all the things that could go wrong.
Some people do feel this to be a motivating factor.
They believe, if they worry enough and play all possible worst case scenarios up and down, it will keep them going till they have a solution up their sleeve.
They might believe, when they beat themselves up enough, call themselves names, belittling themselves enough, it will help them growing and become better.
This might even work for a while.
Some of those people become very successful in their professional life.
Everything works up to a point
till it is not.
Stress, negativity, overwhelm is fuel for anxiety, burn out and depression.
In the long run it can have serious consequences on your mental and physical health.
The flashlight of anxiety doesn't let you stop and smell the roses, because you cannot even become aware of roses being there.
Your reality is narrowed down to only those things your brain considers to be important, when you are trapped in the circle of negativity and fear.
This is a useful, inherit mechanism we all share to ensure our survival in the light of a threat to our life and well being. We need to be aware of the rose's thorns to stay away from the hurt they can cause.
Yet, the thorns is all you can see.
You cannot see the colour of the roses.
You cannot smell them.
You cannot admire their beauty in all their different shapes and sizes.
Does this mean it is not there?
How can you begin to step out of that dark room?
Become aware of the fact that what you might see right now is only a part of a certain reality construct.
It is not THE reality, nor THE truth.
Challenge the part of your perceived reality and ask yourself whether any of those thoughts, worries and scenarios you play in your mind are telling you anything about an objective truth.
Notice times, events and situations from the past that played out differently even though you suspected the worst to begin with.
Create time and space to stop and to unplug, even if it just for a short period of time. Let your electronic devices just be for a while, let emails be, let notifications be.
Pause and step back. Open your senses deliberately.
What can you see around you?
What can you hear?
Can you feel the temperature on your skin?
Anything you smell or taste?
Having done step 4 you might realise by now there is a different reality out there. Right there, unfolding, real, just being.
Allow yourself to take this in, really in.
You will feel your mind and body relaxing.
And as you begin to relax,
you can become aware of the roses, their colours, smells and shapes.
And you can become aware of what surrounds them, the leaves, the sky, the earth.
You can become aware of much more things that would have gone unnoticed.
You widen your view and your perspectives, easing into knowing of more than only one way.
You can discover that what anxiety has excluded never left you;
it has patiently been waiting for you to pause and notice.
Now you added light into that room and things that have been invisible for maybe a long time have their time to shine. Doors may appear, windows, different images and impressions.
It is your time to enjoy, rest and recharge.
What can you focus on from now on?
Can it be much more interesting to explore what those newly discovered doors, windows, images might have to offer?
8) Curiosity and play
Even though stress and anxiety is part of our life, it is important to realise it is not the only part.
It is not, what makes us us.
It is not what life is.
Remind yourself of those times when you were a child.
How this huge unknown world was ready to be taken by storm, by you.
Remember all those adventures you were part of, your personal hero-story, your dreams.
Become curious again and playful.
None of it was ever gone, just hidden for a while. Make it yours again.