Yesterday, I watched the film, The Cat in the Hat, with Mike Myers.
If you’ve not seen the Dr Seuss classic, it’s about a big talking cat who turns up at a house with the aim of bringing more happiness to two miserable kids – you know – every day normal stuff!
To gauge how fun the kids are, he pulls out a big contraption called the ‘Phunometer’.
The cat plugs the Phunometer on the girl’s head, and straightaway, the gauge swung around to the least fun setting.
This is the bit that made me chuckle – what the last setting was.
For a kid’s movie, I thought that was pretty accurate!
Looking back at my most miserable times, when anxiety was biting hard, and stress had its grip on me, ‘control freak’ summed me up well.
I struggled to get enjoyment out of anything. I could be sailing around the Caribbean and still find something to be miserable about!
What are you like when it comes to wanting control?
Anxiety and stress will want you to try and control everything – it makes the job of keeping you safe a whole lot easier. Plus, an anxious and stressed brain doesn’t like unfamiliarity or change. It likes to keep things exactly as they are, even if it means being miserable.
But the simple fact is we’re not going to be able to control everything in our lives, and by trying, we’re only punishing ourselves.
LEARN TO LET GO
Take those white knuckles off the roller coaster you call life, and learn to let go!
Start embracing and appreciating the fact that unexpected things are going to happen. Expect change.
Take the frown off your face, unclench your fists, drop your shoulders and loosen that neck!
Take a deep breath, stick a smile on your face and put your favourite comedian on.
Do it, even if you don’t feel like doing it – that is kind of the point.
The tenser you allow yourself to get, the more anxiety and stress will continue to attack you.
Learn to break the habit by learning to let go.
Accept and embrace the fact that you don’t have full control. The instant feeling of relief you get from that alone is priceless.
With time and practice, the more you learn to do it, the more natural it will be for you to deal with situations in an entirely different way.
You’ll no longer hold onto the false belief that you can control everything in your life, and you’ll feel a million times better for it.
Nobody knows what’s around the corner.
A job loss, a bereavement, an illness – lots of us are affected by these things daily, but we don’t equip ourselves to cope with them well – so we end up getting stressed and anxious to the point we struggle to cope.
It’s because we don’t like change. Change causes us big anxiety and stress.
We like things just as they are – that way we know exactly what’s going to happen. The more predictable something is, the less likely it is to cause us hassle.
The trouble with allowing the fear of change to dominate us is we end up stagnating. We end up staying in relationships we know are no good for us. We stay friends with toxic people. It’s why we stay in jobs we hate and get us nowhere.
We would rather stay in these bad situations than face the scary, unpredictable future we know nothing about.
I don’t want you to stay living a substandard life, so the thing I want to throw out there to you is this:
Is facing the unpredictable future any scarier than doing all the things you know are no good for you?
It’s worth a ponder.
Sometimes we need to stop and think about why we’re doing what we’re doing, so we don’t end up just going with the flow, and accepting a lot less than we deserve.
The fear of change shouldn’t be the thing that drives you – it should be the fear that nothing will change. Regret.
I won’t pretend to know all the answers to help you cope with the fear of change, including all the unpredictable situations that will crop up. But I can offer you one solution that will no doubt help you cope with it much better going forward. And it’s this:
Expect the unexpected, including the fact that change is going to happen.
When you expect change, including the problems and situations that come from nowhere, they can’t shock the life out of you.
Expecting the unexpected will prepare you for anything that might crop up.
I’m not saying you have to live in a constant state of alertness. Just prepare yourself better, so things don’t shock you as much, causing you the type of stress and anxiety you won’t be able to cope with.
When you expect it, you’ll cope with whatever comes up 100 times better.
Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you outgrow your job, or your friends, or the people in your life, it means you’re growing.
Things might seem tough to begin with, but you’ll deal with it – because you have to.
The future might be unpredictable, but isn’t there more fun in that, compared to plodding along? Just because it’s unpredictable, it doesn’t mean it’s negative. Stay positive.
If you believe things happen for a reason, then it’s just as easy to believe that positive things will come.
Make Expect Change your new mantra.
ABOUT CARL VERNON
Carl Vernon is a best-selling author & speaker, talking and writing about all things anxiety, stress & well-being.