So we’re on the home straight now this is video 6 of the seven and in this video we’re going to do a quick recap on what we’ve covered so far and then we’re going to talk about changing times where we are today. The quality of not needing to know, and an aspect of leaning into what is, and then we can have a look at the importance of balance and harmony and going with the flow.
ok, so as you can see here, we’ve been through the introduction in video one and then we had a look at some background information on anxiety and our biology and what’s going on. Then we had a look at an approach where we turned towards the anxiety in video 3.
In video 4 we talked about our attention being like a torch and how important it is what we put our attention on actually gets our focus and actually it can cause that particular area in our life to grow.
Video five – the whole theme of being good enough and how that can influence feelings of anxiety, especially with other people and this video now we’re on is video six. Ok, so changing times. First of all, the point with this is that change is a constant – that is a reality of life.
We try and hang on to certain things we want them to be a certain way especially when they are positive. Maybe we want relationships to stay as they are, our jobs to stay as they are, society to stay as it is. But the reality is that it’s constantly moving and changing, and of course that can cause us to to get anxious because we are attached to it being a certain way, but everything is impermanent.
This is a kind of a message to see that nothing stays the same. Even in moment by moment situations. You know everything’s moving in our body and changing, cells are changing and then look at nature. It’s constantly moving and flowing.
So if we can accept that and actually we are not fighting with what is and we’re not getting overly attached to try and hang on to something being a certain way because that can cause anxiety.
Life is speeding up as well, so the rate of change seems to be getting faster and faster and so that can be quite unnerving as well.
You know we as human beings, we like things to be predictable and constant and because that is what our feeling of safety comes from. If we can predict how things are going to be in the future, then we can relax but unfortunately we can’t because everything’s moving and changing and everything speeding up and also old paradigms are changing so what our parents experienced – maybe they had more guaranteed security in terms of their job, maybe certain things like pensions and getting on the housing ladder – they were more reliable.
Now, it’s it’s all changing and we have to be taking more responsibility for ourselves. We can’t depend up on the employers to be meeting all our needs because they’re obviously in a global economy where it is changing, so so actually rather than feeling unnerved by this we can see it as a positive.
Yeah, so changes are constantly producing this flow and this is what keeps life alive. It’s like a river, it needs that flowing water in order to sustain itself so rather than fighting change rather than worrying about the future, maybe we can actually go with it.
So then if we’ve got the realisation that the future can’t be predicted. What we do because our safety mechanisms are all about what’s coming down the line and we don’t know what it’s going to be like and that’s anxiety inducing.
But actually maybe we don’t need to know. Maybe we don’t need to know how it’s all going to play out. In fact we can never really know. There’s so many variables in life and things are changing so radically.
I worked in a bank in the 1990s and early 2000s – never in a million years would I have thought that a UK bank would struggle. And then we had the the financial crash 2007/8 and all the share prices went from £11 down to 60p. This would never have been on anyone’s radar.
So what do we do about this?
Well – perhaps we have to let go a bit – we say we can never really know and move into a place of trust rather than hope. Hope is always like I hope it’s going to be ok. I hope this is all going to work out ok and that sets up a little bit of neediness and an anxiety around well is it or isn’t it going to be ok?
Whereas trust is more about well, I can trust myself. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out and perhaps I don’t need to know – whatever does play out I’ll handle it, I’ll handle it then because then I have the information of what’s going on in that moment and as Albert Eistein here – he’s saying that most important decision we make is whether we believe in a friendly or hostile universe, so you know if we feel that everything’s out to get us then our nervous system is going to be geared up for survival and hypervigilance and obviously that can lead to anxiety.
If we can trust life and see it as being safe enough then perhaps our whole perspective on life changes and so this is why it is the most important decision because you know if we see that we living in a friendly universe, suddenly everything changes and we go with it.
So you know one technique to manage that idea of worry about the future is actually think about the worst case scenario, you know ok, I might lose my job then you go – OK I’ve named it and say ok. well, if that’s on the cards potentially then, I’ll handle it.
Yeah. If that arises. I’ll handle it. I’ll deal with it then.
What you can do is to make sure that you’ve got marketable skills now – take more responsibility to ensure that. So should you lose your job, you know that you can move on to something else, so that’s a good thing to be preparing ourselves for that the whole time. and if I’m marketable, I’d handle it if I were to lose my job, but essentially I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to play out so I just have to trust myself and trust life.
So the other approach is to lean into fear. Yeah, so we can imagine, something is really scary that we’re wanting to avoid it in as I said previously that can increase our avoidance coping mechanisms and our world sort of shrinks; our comfort zone – the bubble you know starts to shrink so what we need to do is we need especially if after period real anxiety, the chances are that our World will have become a lot smaller.
Things that we used to be able to do maybe quite threatening. So what we need to do is just gently lean into that bubble. So that little bit by little we’re starting to open it up and leaning into that comfort zone, so it might be ok, when we are allowed to socialise more, it could be well I’ll meet up with a couple of friends and and just do it gradually, And then maybe it will be a bigger group as an example.
And the thing about leaning into situations is biologically just the very act of engaging with something switches on our dopamine system which is our reward system, it moves us away from the fight-or-flight system; the survival system; and actually we start to feel more encouraged because we have taken some action. so if we’re gearing ourselves up to lean into our comfort zone before we do that, we can do our practice of centering, just a little bit of belly breathing and grounding ourselves. That deeper breathing and then moving into whatever it is we are wanting to to lean into.
There is a really good book called Feel the Fear and do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, written in the 80s or 90s. This is kind of saying well the fear will be there, it will be there, we have to take that for granted. It’s our system trying to look after us, but by leaning into it and taking action then we are opening up our comfort zone.
Ok, so another thing you know this is kind of like an Eastern philosophy, if you look at nature, nature thrives and is sustained because it’s in balance. And whereas in our society I think we get this message that we have to be the best at everything, we have to take things to the max, you know we have to be comparing ourselves with others and it’s – I’ve got to be seen to be achieving on this really high level, of having this perfect body and whatever it might be, but that’s not going to be very balanced because if we push in one area then we can have a deficit in another.
And the other thing about balance is if you can imagine, let’s just say work and rest yeah, these actually need each other so if you want to get fitter you would maybe go to the gym and then you would make sure you rest in between. They actually support each other. A bit of playtime and a bit of work time – they are mutually supportive.
Some structure in our life and some spontaneity these are opposites, like yin and yang qualities that support each other and and when we include all of it; the rest, the work and the play when we include all of it we get a certain harmony.
That’s when we get this sweet spot of everything all supporting each other. And actually you know, average can be best because if you’re staying in that middle zone and you’ve got a bit of everything then you get to enjoy all of it.
Whereas if you’re pushing in one area then you’ve got to go without in other areas so the message that It’s got to be the best or not at all I think is is quite unhelpful. So going with the flow. If we can imagine that life is moving and changing whether we like it or not, then all we need to do is to just keep with the flow of it.
So, let’s just imagine as an analogy we’ve got a river flowing, the river is flowing whether you like it or not, so all we need to do is just keep up with the flow. So if we’re in a boat on the river, just a light paddle every now and again just to keep with the flow. If it’s well, I don’t really like this, I’m going to pull my boat out of the river which is basically I’m not going to engage with life, well the river is going to keep moving anyway, so at some point you’ve got to put your boat back in the water.
And then you got to catch up. Equally with anxiety you’re always trying to look ahead. You want to know what’s coming down the line. You know, are there rapids down there and constantly on red alert so then we’re missing the scenery. We’re not enjoying the ride.
We just need to keep with the flow so and then as things come and go into our life we enjoy them. That’s good, a great bit of scenery, but we don’t try and hang on to it. Enjoy it and then we let it go so we don’t get too attached to it.
Yeah, so the principles that I’m talking about here are Eastern principles that come from Taoism in Chinese philosophy, so this book is really nice – the Tao of inner peace by Diane Dreher. Again, quite an old book but it’s got some nice principles not religious principles, ways of life modelling nature and if we align with nature than normally that’s the best approach.
Ok, so if we continue with this this sort of idea that well you know we’re living in a benign universe and and that we can trust it, can we actually take it less seriously, you know it we were worrying about things that we can’t control, with worrying about things which if they do happen we’ll handle it in the moment.
Then looking at the bigger scheme of things then what’s it all about?
What is important?
What’s not important?
Some people can get to retirement age for example, and think why did I work so hard? You know trying to climb a career ladder trying to be seen to be great at what I do. Trying to get status and chasing money and things like that and then thinking, well I haven’t really enjoyed the whole process and I’m thinking maybe I was focusing on the wrong things actually. To emphasise some play and fun now and again, and they are now realising neurologically this is often the best way to be and to get the results that we want.
If we’re enjoying what we are doing we’re more likely to be engaging with it wholeheartedly and more likely to be more creative so making space for play and fun in all areas of our life actually is really important. Life is short and to be enjoyed – so can we just let go a bit and go with the flow, can we let go of our tension, can we let go of needing to know the outcome and can we let go of comparing ourselves to others. So this is taking a different perspective on what we focus on and how we live our lives.
So there’s a academic of Eastern philosophy in the 70s and 80s called Alan Watts. He’s a great person to look up on on YouTube for some of these perspectives and he’s got a very playful attitude to life as well, saying that we don’t have to take it quite so seriously there’s a link to one of his videos in one of the resources slides later on.