The Surprising Reason Behind Why We Feel So Anxious
Anxiety is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing issues we are having as humans. But why do we feel so anxious? I find that people who I previously knew to be rather relaxed about life are starting to display signs of anxiety and the culprit is a surprising one: unlimited choices. How could something so positive like endless possibilities be to blame for making us feel anxious? More importantly, how do we tackle it? Let me break this down a bit.
We have never in our history had the amount of choices that we have today. We can choose to be parents or not. Marriage is really up to us. Do we want to work for someone or do we want to work for ourselves? Are we interested in men or women or both or none? Do we prefer to be in an office setting or work from anywhere in the world with our laptops? Mansion or tiny house? Do we want to go on one date today or three? Do we want to live lavishly or simply? The answer to all of these questions is: it’s our choice so the possibilities are endless.
To elaborate, think of how you feel in these two scenarios:
- Restaurant A offers only house red, house white and house pink wine. You pick red because you know you prefer it over the others. Done. On to appetizers.
- Restaurant B has a full bar. You can ask for anything. Suddenly you feel anxious because you have to decide whether you’re going to have vodka, tequila, wine, beer or just water. What if you just want a Coke? Do they have Coke or do they carry Pepsi? Maybe you will have some wine. Oh man, they have 10 choices of red, 10 of white and 10 of pink. Should you get the whole bottle or a glass?
Restaurant B has allowed you any choice you want. By doing that, your anxiety has unraveled and you haven’t even gotten to their extensive appetizer options. To make matters worse, when you finally pick the drink you want, you can only blame yourself for your satisfaction with what you chose. In Restaurant A, if you didn’t like the red wine you could blame them for the limited choices they gave you.
Life has gone from Restaurant A to Restaurant B and anxiety is the result.
We feel anxious because we have so much ownership of how our lives pan out. We know today that we’re the only ones who have ownership of how risky we’re going to get with life. It is all in our hands and it is too much to work through in one day. There are too many choices and directions we can go in. What if we make the wrong choice?
Well, here is how you begin to tackle the anxiety you feel surrounding that question.
You must absolutely believe that life works in your favor all of the time. ALL.OF.THE.TIME.
I have had a long list of things happen to me and around me that other people would call tragic or unfortunate. No matter how other people see those things, I see them as having moved me in a positive direction. I value the bad things, the unfortunate events, the people who betrayed or hurt me because I know they were all meant to take me in a direction I would not have gone in otherwise. It is the same with choices – no matter which one we make it’ll result in something positive. As the saying goes, we either win or learn. Learning = winning. This means we either win or we win.
When in doubt always go with the choice that feels right.
We need to approach our choices in the same organic way we do everyday things. If you simply feel something is the right choice, you must stop the search for an answer right there. What you feel is what you choose.
We can overthink anything. We can think until we’re consumed by anxiety over choices OR we can simplify the process and go with what feels right. I’m going to be bold and say it: you will never fail if you go with your feelings. I know that is a really intense and confident statement to make, but I believe it.
We know when we walk into a place whether we like it or not. We know when we meet someone how we feel about them. So why would we ignore this extremely powerful gift we have when it comes to making choices? Don’t.
Never make a choice based on someone else.
I know, this one is a bit harsh – the truth is that way sometimes. Good people like to think of others before themselves; it’s our nature. Unfortunately, a line must be drawn if we’re going to reduce the anxiety that surrounds our decisions. When faced with choices we must stop, take a breath, connect with ourselves and ask, “What is the best choice for me?” If that feels too greedy or egotistical to you, you can ask yourself this, “What is the choice I can live with and own?” Try as best as you can to center your choices on your guiding principle. If you don’t know what it is, you can read about it here.
The good news is that if you have done a decent job of surrounding yourself with people who really love you, you won’t have to make a decision based on them. People who love you will release you. They will say to you, “do what’s best for you.”
So, to summarize all of this:
Listen to your feelings and make choices that feel right for you without over analyzing. Be bold and proceed knowing – without a shadow of a doubt – that you will win.