You should really get a life

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 26th, 2010

Anxiety: A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning.

You could also say that anxiety is a function of what Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City aptly describes as ?shoulding?. The ?realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation? comes about because we want something to be contrary to the reality of the situation. It is no wonder I find myself in a constant state of anxiety. I ?should? all over every single aspect of my life, from daily occurrences, to how everything else in my life ?should? be. It?s quite pathetic really. The slightest non-event can ruin my day due to my resistance in accepting what is so at that point of time.

Take this morning for example. I decided to catch a bus to work rather than taking the train, believing a more direct route to work would save an annoying train line change at central station. What I didn?t take into consideration, however, were the frequency of the bus stops in the middle of peak hour traffic, making the journey to work much longer than the simple 10 minute wait between train rides. I was going to be late. Really late. All of a sudden my mind went into ?it shouldn?t be this way? mode, and I was performing the silent angry dance (mental trashing of everything) every time the bus stopped. I?d curse the passengers who held me up because they?d buy their ticket from the driver instead of holding a prepaid one (even though I did the same thing when I got on the bus), until eventually my ?shoulding? went into overdrive: ?I should have recharged my phone so I could call the office?, ?I shouldn?t have taken so long to get ready?, ?There shouldn?t be so many bus stops! Didn?t we just stop, like, 100 metres back?? ?There should be a bus lane?, ?I?m so irresponsible!? and on and on and on and on?this futile mind activity proceeded to develop into a full-blown anxiety attack. And for what? Being 20 minutes late for work? Ma vaffanculo!

And then there are the broader aspects of ?shoulding? that persist on a daily basis. This ranges from my physical appearance (I should be taller, have smaller bones, thicker hair, and darker, smoother skin), my age (I should be further into my career by now, own a home by now, have saved $20 grand by now, know more stuff by now, be married with children by now), my family (they should be more together, more educated, and more loving and supportive of me), and everything else you can think if. It?s never perfect, and there is ALWAYS something to fix.

What would it take to give this ?shoulding? up for good? Firstly, I need to look at the impact ?shoulding? has on my life. ?Shoulding? in actual fact means that I don?t have a life. If I don?t accept the way everything is, from my hair to my bank balance, and take real responsibility for it, really own it, then I?m not really living, because I?m never really present. Life only exists in the here and now. The past only exists in memory and the future doesn?t exist at all. So ?shoulding? takes us out of life because it is not related to reality at all. It is not ?what?s so right now?. The sooner I accept what is so, the sooner I come back to, well, life!

I believe it to be as simple as that. Life shouldn't be any other way just because it isn't any other way.

Right now I?m ?shoulding? about what I?ve just written. I?m telling myself it should be funnier, and sound less like Dr Phil. But do you know what? What is even more important to me right now is that I express my experience living in the world of should, with the hope you can relate to what I?ve just said, and maybe even get something out of it.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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