Dealing With Anxiety in Times of Uncertainty
Updated: May 27
In truth, all times are uncertain. We can never really control the world the way we want to in order to feel safe within our limited worldview and preferences. We think we can, and, as a result, spend a lot of time and effort trying to control our world. The results are some combination of avoidance, resistance, anger, depression, fear and loneliness. Our world becomes very small. and we seldom risk doing something that might cause discomfort.
However, right now the world is more uncertain than anytime since the Great Depression/WWII.
The social isolation required to limit the spread of the coronavirus is unprecedented in its scope worldwide. Thankfully, the electronic age provides many ways to stay connected, but it doesn’t overcome the anxiety and fear related to the daily changes to life as most know it.
I have recently been reading the book ‘Self-Help For Your Nerves’ by Claire Weekes. This book was originally published in 1962, but is still very relevant to our world. Dr. Weekes was an Australian doctor and scientist who focused on cognitive therapy. This book provides very practical steps for overcoming anxiety and fear. It prescribes a 4-step treatment process which includes:
· Letting time pass
The first step (Facing) is to have an awareness that you need help because your life is dominated by anxiety and fear, and an inability to cope and function in normal and healthy ways. This becomes a life of avoiding/controlling/withdrawing, or basically living within your own prison.
The second step (Accepting) is the total accepting of your symptoms. You no longer fight them, but instead allow yourself to feel and experience them with total acceptance. Clearly, this is easier said than done.
The third step (Floating), (which blends into the fourth step - Letting time pass) may take some work to be able to accomplish. It is somewhat like being ‘out of body’ and requires an ability to be in witness consciousness. In witness consciousness you observe, thoughts, feelings and information from the senses as separate from your conscious beingness. Per the book, you: “Float past tension and fear. Float past unwelcome suggestions. Float, don’t fight. Accept and let more time pass.”
I interpret ‘unwelcome suggestions’ to include thoughts, feelings, preferences and beliefs. By practicing this process, healing happens because you leave the fear and insanity of the ego mind and touch into the deeper self.
Other practices are also helpful for dealing with this time of uncertainty, including meditation, inquiry, philosophy, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion. I will cover these in future blogs.
* Book mentioned: ‘Self-Help For Your Nerves’ by Claire Weekes