I’ve Got 99 Problems But…
“I’ve got 99 problems but anxiety ain’t one.”
The truth is…anxiety ain’t one, at least not anymore, BUT I’ve also learned to change the way I see everyday ‘problems’ and understand that they’re not always indeed problems that need solving.
Life throws us curve balls all day everyday, some can big and some can be small. We have a choice however to let them stack on top of each other and become important to us, or, we can see them for what they are and let go of them.
When we stop trying to fight against them and can see things happen and we can’t control everything, we can start to live a more peaceful life.
I spent a lifetime allowing everyday situations to hold weight in my mind. I spent years trying to fix things I thought I needed to fix.
This weighed me down for years until I finally got to the point where I understood that I do in fact have a choice on whether I let them affect me and contribute to my anxiety.
The problem with life is…
Problems. Okay, let me explain a bit more…
In 28 years I’ve had some problems and I’m sure that you’ve had your fair share too. Luckily, I haven’t had major problems in my life but I have had some really tough ones.
One of those was my anxiety disorder. It’s the one thing that’s brought me to my knees and made me feel like giving up trying.
I’ve come to realise that in many cases, we see things like anxiety as problems that we must cure and completely eradicate because once we do, we think we’ll be happier and everything will be perfect.
We’re constantly trying to battle against everyday situations that we don’t like.
We call them ‘problems’ because it’s easy (and we feel the need) to give them names. For example;
‘My friend didn’t text me back, they must be angry with me’
Over time these ‘problems’ multiply and stack on top of each other leaving us anxious and feeling a great deal of worry. These types of thoughts can follow us through our entire lives causing us to make this thought patterns a habit and even an addiction.
We start seeing small things like this example as a big deal.
Making Things Into ‘Problems’ Starts When We’re Very Young
Putting these situations and thoughts into a ‘bad’ and ‘need-to-worry-about’ box starts when we’re very young.
Let me share with you how my anxious thought patterns started from such a young age and maybe you’ll be able to resonate…
- worrying about not having the right trending shoes
- worrying about not having the right friends
- worrying that I wasn’t popular enough
- worrying that I wouldn’t fit in
- worrying that I’d annoyed someone
- worrying about years into the future
- worrying that I didn’t have a ‘cool pencil case
- worrying whether I’ll be invited to birthday parties
You can see that some of the worries I had at school were things a lot of kids worry about, and some were just plain dramatic. Now I’m an adult, I know that these are very good worries to have.
If your only worries consist of not having a cool pencil case in your adult years, you’re doing something right! 😉
Once school is over we think that these worries will be over…
And they are.
No More worries? Awesome…not quite.
The problem is, life just hands you a new load of ‘problems’ and worries.
Becoming A Teenager Arms You With New Problems
The years when we think we have the most problems is arguably when we reach our teenage years. Now we’ve got past the petty squabbles of the school yard, we’re ready for a life of worry-free awesomeness.
Then something happens…
We start changing, mentally and physically.
We’ve left the ‘problems’ of school behind but then we;
- Start changing physically and become self concious
- Understand that our parents aren’t perfect
- Start worrying what the opposite sex thinks of us
- Feel a burning need to be popular and liked
- Feel a higher need to fit in
Essentially, we’ve traded an old set of what we think are problems to a new set. Now, we’re trying to solve this new set of problems we have, and worse, we might still have some of our old ‘problems’ which overlap with our new ones.
If I’m totally honest with you, transitioning from teenager to adult was the toughest time of my life. It’s when my generalised anxiety disorder was in full swing loading these ‘problems,’ and others, onto my mind on a daily basis.
Adulthood Is Like A Rude Awakening
For many of us, adulthood is when we start to worry less about fitting in, going to birthday parties and ‘fitting in’ socially. Essentially, most of our teenage problems have dissolved or become irrelevant.
Adulthood can be like a rude awakening. Let me explain by using myself as an example. I realised;
- I had to be self sufficent
- parents weren’t always around to cook and clean for me
- I had to earn money to survive
- I had to be careful with money
- I wanted to get a respectable job
- ultimately, things don’t come easy
I was always lucky to have a roof over my head, food on the table and a loving family. Although having these things is what every child should have, I wasn’t prepared for the reality of adulthood. Call it what you wish but myself and others only started to realise how tough life really is once we hit our mid twenties.
By now, we’ve traded our petty ‘problems’ and worries for adult worries. If we allow our thought habits to continue from when we were in the school yard worrying about our trainers, we’ve trained ourselves to see a large portions of our daily lives as problems, and worse still, failures.
When we reach adulthood and it isn’t what we imagined, or we’re not where we thought we’d be, we start to think we’ve failed.
We thought that when we grew up, we’d of got rid of our problems only to find that we have a whole new bunch of them, and maybe even still have some old ones.
We now have to retrain ourselves to see the bigger picture and leave our ‘problems’ to one side.
You Have To See The Big Picture
You will always have what you call ‘problems’. If we didn’t have things we don’t like, we’d never try to be better than we are.
The bigger picture I learned was this;
You’ll always have worries, big or small, things you don’t like and want to change
There’s no such thing a the perfect life. Things happen, and they don’t always have to happen for a reason. They simply, happen.
So now, what if you’ve overcome your childhood problems, your teenage problems and now you’re in your mid-twenties and you’ve won the lottery?
You have no more problems right? You can live the life you want now, whatever that might be.
You have eradicated your biggest adult problem: money.
The thing is, now the money problem has been dealt with, it exposes a huge array of other things that you might decide are ‘problems’.
Our day to day lives are not fairy tales where everything needs or should be perfect.
Understanding this simple concept was a huge contributor to my shift in thinking during my illness.
There is always going to be something you don’t like, something that might make you anxious or upset. You don’t get to control everything I’m afraid. When you see these things for what they are, passing moments in a long line of life, you can take back control.
When you stop battling for the ‘perfect, ‘problem free’ life you can finally become calm and accepting.
I hope this has given you something to think about. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments.
Here’s to your success – sean