Is anxiety the new normal?

anxiety depression comic

Is it just me or does it seem that anxiety is the new normal for everyone?

People are afraid of everything. Losing their job, or being disengaged in the job they do have. According to Gallup, only 21% are engaged at work.  Relationships that fail and go into divorce are the majority. Many people don’t see the point of relationships. Irony and cynicism rule social media and are the undercurrent on LinkedIn.

What is my point in sharing this? If we recognize that we are anxious then we can take steps to solve it. We have to understand that life is uncertain and that the desire for certainty is misguided. At any time people, things, and jobs can be taken away from us no matter how hard we work or how well we do. We do not control our lives but mostly act like a person steering a ship in a strong current. We have a limited amount of control, but mostly we follow the current.

It seems to me that the root of anxiety is the idea that we can’t be happy where we are and what we are doing. Most of my life has been spent in situations that I didn’t control. Yet I found a way to be happy by making my inner reality as important and real as my other one. This is simply to acknowledge that we both participate in a shared reality with others and a reality that few ever see.

Our inner reality is where we interpret what happens to us in the outer one. It is where we say and try to make sense of what happens to us. Often we just have to accept that some terrible things can happen to life and we don’t deserve them, and the person who did them probably had terrible things done to them. Most people who hurt others are in pain themselves and recognizing this helps us accept that they were a jerk to us.

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Of course, we are not agreeing we deserve to be abused, and we always hold people who abuse us accountable. However in a larger sense, once those are done, we have to let go and let the mystery of life happen and reconnect to something greater than ourselves. If that is religion, respect for humanity, or mysticism. We have to see if we are a small piece of a larger puzzle. Or perhaps we aren’t, and then what happened to us is random. Either way, our life, and experiences are just part of life and that is ok.