Start by focusing on today.
I’m in a hurry.
It’s more than just a feeling. It’s a clinically tested, professionally diagnosed problem. At least according to my therapist.
I look ahead and I see the destination as clearly as anything. I know where I want to get, and I want to get there so bad. In fact, I wish I was there already.
Meanwhile, I’m paralyzed. I feel like life is passing me by as I watch, eager to be a part of it, but too obsessed with what comes after to fully participate in the now.
“It’s about the ride, not the destination.” — Something people like to say that always makes me cringe.
It annoys me to hear I should be enjoying the ride, not because it’s not true, but because it reminds me of how much my anxiety takes from me.
My anxiety makes it hard to concentrate on a task for too long. It makes it hard to commit to long-term projects and see them through to the end.
Having this kind of anxiety is like trying to climb a stairway not 2, not 3, but 4 or 5 steps at a time. It might seem like it’s working for a while, like it’s making you move ahead faster and more efficiently towards your destination, but only until you tire yourself out, trip, and fall down several flights.
You fall face down, sore and bruised all over. But you don’t learn. You don’t suddenly start tackling the stairway one step at a time, building your strength and gaining momentum. No. Your anxiety won’t allow it. Your anxiety will make you look up at your goal — now farther away than ever — and it will send you sprinting right back up again. Double-time now. You’re behind, you have to catch up. But that’ll only make you fall. Again.
Not letting this kind of anxiety control me is a daily battle.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a road or a stairway, the only way to defeat the sense of hurry — the anxiety — is to forget there’s such a thing as tomorrow.
There’s no tomorrow, there’s only here and now.
When you concentrate on today, you stop wondering when you’re going to reach your destination.
The destination is an illusion.
We all have the a lot of “days when.” That’s how we think of the many destinations for our journey.
The day when I get that promotion. The day when I get the girl. The day when I buy my first house, trade in my car, have my first grandkid.
We dream about the “days when”. We wish they’d come a lot sooner. But as we look forward to the “days when”, we forget about today. We forget that today is all we have to work with.
Concentrating on today can be hard when you’re anxious, but it can also be what makes anxiety more bearable. It sounds like a paradox, but trust me, it works.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” — Annie Dillard.
This is my favorite quote of all time. I use it as a mantra to remind me that life is nothing but a collection of subsequent nows. It’s what we do every hour of every day. Life is not looking forward to the “days when”. Life is not reaching a destination. Life is how you spend today.
That’s what trusting the process means to me: to spend my days how I want to spend my life. Trusting the process means internalizing that the only way to build a house is doing one bit of the work every single day day. Step by step.
To simply daydream about the “day when” you’ll have a house gets you nowhere. This might seem simple to those who are not anxious, but for someone with anxiety, it’s a big challenge.
Having anxiety means I have good days and bad days. It means I have extremely productive days; days I spend exactly how I want to spend my life, and days when I’m half paralyzed and can barely function. But I’m learning to accept myself and my challenges.
I’m learning to trust the process.