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Day 34: The Source Of Your Anxiety

“When I see an anxious person, I ask myself, what do they want? For if a person wasn’t wanting something outside of their own control, why would they be stricken by anxiety?”

Epictetus

In this post, I am not going to downplay anxiety issues that many people do face. I understand that it is a mental health condition and one needs professional help when it’s taking over the normal functioning of their day-to-day life.

I don’t get anxious in day-to-day life. In most situations, I feel that I can keep my calm. But I am no monk. I also get anxious from time to time. For me, the triggers are when there is a change in my life(either good or bad) or when I have to confront someone (it has now gone worse to deal with people), or when I have to make some important life decisions.

In this list, two out of three things are completely out of my control. I can’t assume that life will always remain the same. After all the famous quote, “Change is the only constant“.

For the other one when I try to rehearse the conversation in my head multiple times going over various possible scenarios before actually confronting them, I am forgetting that I can’t control the reaction and behavior of other people. I can only worry about mine.

It makes sense that one gets anxious while taking important life decisions because one has to evaluate all the pros and cons of each decision and some decisions can be life-altering. But to think clearly can one really evaluate all the aspects while taking decisions. Haven’t we seen even the well thought decisions turning out to be a foul one?

In today’s meditation, Epictetus is just trying to tell us the same. Most of the anxiety is caused by worrying about things outside our control. In the book, Ryan Holiday has shared this beautiful line which sums it all.

Staring at the clock, at the ticker, at the next checkout lane over, at the sky—it’s as if we all belong to a religious cult that believes the gods of fate will only give us what we want if we sacrifice our peace of mind.

So, next time when you lose your mind worrying about something, ask whether being anxious going to help solve the problem or if you are wrongly worried about something outside your control?

Published inPhilosophy & IdeasStoicism

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