We see and hear it all around us, and feel it ourselves; so much anxiety, so much stress. Where is it coming from? We can point to so many different things, but in reality it’s far more ubiquitous and omnipresent. The more clients I work with and conversations with friends I have, a singular root cause becomes clearer.
It starts with an absurdly unbalanced cultural focus, focus, focus on the surface, and how things look; the appearance. As we move away from reading and look at pictures, as we move away from dialog and move toward special effects, there’s less and less emphasis on substance, and more and more pressure around appearances.
Values; the deepest part of who we are, don’t show on the surface, so they fall further and further down the priority list. Where once upon a time we were drawn to and identified ourselves with kindness, compassion, intelligence and humor, now it’s all about the fleeting, transience of what shows in a photo.
We take our cues from TV, movies, and the web, and this translates quickly to pressure for you to act like you’re supposed to act, to fill a role. Rather than listening to your heart or your gut for who you really are, you’re told to act like someone else, who’s supposedly acting the part you’re supposed to act. You see how far from a sense of authentic self this takes us?
And there it is: the inevitable emptiness within. The more we move all of our energy to the outer shell, the less there’s any substance within. We become like painted eggshells; pretty on the outside and empty inside. The more we become eggshells, the more fragile we become, and so easily broken. This is the anxiety, frustration, and disappointment that we go through.
The more substance we fill ourselves with, the more solid we become, the more unbreakable and resilient we become. When we’re solid, we can take the bumps, dents, and bangs that life throws our way and not shatter. So the secret is actually quite simple: we need to re-focus on our Inside, and not let the commercial drive to buy our way out of feeling hollow brainwash us. Keep in mind that old definition of crazy: “doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” Obviously, it’s time to do something very different.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re in a dark room, what’s going on outside the window grabs your attention? How about the converse? When you’re in a well lighted room you don’t see what’s going on outside as well, and it doesn’t distract you. This isn’t rocket science by any means. The less you’ve got going on inside, the more distracted you are by shiny objects. The more you’ve got going on inside, the less distracted you are by shiny objects. Obviously, commercial entities prefer you being empty and anxious, so you’ll be distracted by, and purchase their shiny objects, especially when they promise you happiness.
Again, how many times do we need to experience this not working before we see it as a failing strategy? How about when we look at each other? Do we see each other as shiny objects? Does this create the same dynamic where we want to “possess” the shiny object that promises happiness? Can we really “swipe” a human, and put them in our shopping cart? When building relationships becomes shopping for shiny objects, we experience the same failure again, and blame ourselves for our disappointment, anxiety, and frustration. It’s our fault because we “bought” the wrong “shiny object,” and now must go shopping again. Maybe we need to make that definition of crazy a mantra.
Our internal Self can only be distracted away by the external, if it’s not built up, and not sufficiently filled out. There’s our simple recipe: we need to focus on our internal environment, and fill it out. When we focus on our deeply held Values; what we truly care about, and work to bring our feelings, thoughts, words, and actions into congruence, we begin to glow from within. The more inside glow, the less external shiny objects are even noticeable, much less distracting. All the brittle, fragile, anxiety begins to melt away, as we become filled with substance.
The Ever-Present What’s In It For You?
Imagine how you’d feel, if wondering what other people think about you occupied almost none of your time or brain space. Imagine how you’d feel, if your strength and confidence came from a place so deep within you, that they never even occurred to you; you just embodied them and went about your life. Imagine being so emotionally resilient that what once knocked you for a loop and took over your whole day now was just a bump in the road. Imagine how much time you could have back, if none of it was wasted on chasing what you can never catch, because it resides deep within you.
You can feel better, be stronger, more resilient; where things don’t mess with you as much. You can literally extend your lifespan, as your telomeres aren’t getting shortened by the anxiety and stress of an invisible “rat-race,” that you never signed up for in the first place.
Discover the joy of turning the physical pages of a book, where you’re not rushing to sandwich the time in between the imagined rush of multi-tasking a hundred inessential things that our culture is barraging you to do and be. Rebel against “the machine,” and think about the things that really matter to you. Give yourself the time to re-connect with who you really are, under the latest fads, trends, and styles. You’re allowed to be your authentic self. Beyond feeling better, you’ll find that you’re more creative and interesting to yourself and others; certainly more interesting than an eggshell painted with whatever the media is shouting at you to be for the moment.