Note: This is Topic # 4 in a 10- part series called The Fine Art of Misery.
*On a serious note: Please know that this series is intended to be a spoof, a lighthearted invitation to look at how we sometimes create our own misery. It is by no means meant to be disrespectful or minimizing of many people's true pain, particularly around depression and anxiety.
OK, first, look around you and assess the situation. Granted, your belly is full, you have a roof over your head, your bills are reasonably paid up, and you can call a person or two a friend. You have a few bucks in your pocket. You can inhale and exhale with some degree of ease and you have access to at least the majority of your five senses. Do not be lulled into a sense of complacency! You can still create a crisis out of this seemingly secure situation.
A creative imagination here is helpful. Since there is nothing major happening in your current reality that warrants freaking out, you will need to borrow some material from your past and also from your future.
Anxiety Borrowed From Your Past
Let's take a look at your past and see if you can recycle some old traumas and stresses. Let's start small. Recall the way someone looked at you funny. If you think about it, it was actually a pretty critical look and they were probably judging you about something. That's a good reason to get upset, maybe create some after the fact indignation or better yet, fear that they really don't like you afterall. That would be devastating!
How about some "coulda, woulda, shouldas?" I could have done a better job on that project; now everyone thinks I'm a loser. I would have made a better impression if she hadn't stolen the spotlight; now I'm just a nobody. I should have known he would react like that; now I'll bet he doesn't trust me. A variation on this theme is the "if only." If only I had stayed at my old job, I wouldn't be in this mess. If only I had listened to my instincts, I wouldn't be stuck in this relationship. "If onlys" are handy if you want to add a tinge of depression to your anxiety. This makes for a nice touch.
Anxiety Borrowed From Your Future
The future is a great place to create some anxiety because you're not constrained by actual events that have already happened. The sky's the limit! Start with some "what ifs." What if I don't get the job? What if my girlfriend breaks up with me? What if the car breaks down while I'm on the highway at night? What if I ignore this headache and it turns out to be a brain tumor and I die a slow agonizing death, leaving my family destitute and grief stricken? See how quickly you can go from zero to sixty in a few seconds flat? "What ifs" are the gold standard for creating anxiety out of future thin air.
Anxiety: Go for the Gold!
If you're going for sustained, long term chronic anxiety, you will need to create some foundational negative beliefs and attitudes. Beliefs like, "Everyone has to like me all the time," "I can't ever make a mistake or let them see me vulnerable," and "I always have to be the best at everything I do," are a good start.
I hope this little installment from The Fine Art of Misery series has been helpful. Stay tuned for the next title, Finding True Love: Trample Over Those Pesky Red Flags.
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