“I have now, and have had since this afternoon, a great yearning to write all my anxiety entirely out of me, write it into the depths of the paper just as it comes out of the depths of me, or write it down in such a way that I could draw what I had written into me completely.”
— Franz Kafka
Whenever something is bothering me, and I am overcome with running thoughts, the best way to relieve that anxiety is to write my thoughts down. Afterwards, I almost always feel better and the running thoughts subside. Simply writing about my fears and worries helps in easing them. Why is that?
I’ve always been weird. As a child, my earliest memories from school were how I was always so much different than everyone else—not just personality-wise, being extremely shy compared to them, but also in my interests. The other kids weren’t into the things I wanted to do and talk about which was probably why I didn’t like talking to them. But the weird thing is I didn’t like being weird as a kid. I had such severe social anxiety that I wanted to fit in and be like everybody else. I was terrified of being ostracized and rejected by my peers. I didn’t want to stand out, so I would hide my weird interests from them.
The most valuable ability of humans—what separates us from other species—is our ability to predict the future. To anticipate the repercussions of our actions. To imagine potential consequences. To plan for the future. Prediction is what makes humans more intelligent and thereby more successful at survival than other animals. Likewise those humans who are best at prediction are more successful in life than their fellow humans.
Siddhartha is a 1922 novel by Hermann Hesse, and while it is not directly about social anxiety, it is about mindfulness and meditation—the tools that helped me with social anxiety. In the book, Siddhartha, a character from the time of Gautama Buddha, goes on a spiritual journey, eventually coming to self-realizations that helped him overcome his suffering in life, much in the same way I did. Through select quotes from the text, I will explain how Siddhartha’s journey related to my own journey overcoming social anxiety. Continue reading →
Journaling has been one of the most beneficial practices for my mental health. It’s a powerful and freeing method to clear your mind. Writing about everything in your head—all your deepest and darkest and most private thoughts—gets those thoughts out of your head and onto paper. For this to work, the journal must remain private. You need the complete freedom to know that no one else will ever see it so you can write with complete inhibition. Once the thoughts get out of your head and onto paper, you can detach from the thoughts and view them from a distance. Continue reading →
I’ve mentioned meditation and its benefits many times on this blog, but I’ve never devoted an entire post to explaining exactly what meditation is and how and why it works. So this is that. Continue reading →
Anxiety is a product of imagination. We imagine potential scenarios in which all sorts of negative things might happen. This can manifest in various types of anxiety, such as a fear of flying: imagining all they ways a plane might crash. Or a fear of heights, spiders, confined places, etc. It’s the same with the type of fear I struggled with: social anxiety. Continue reading →
The term “overthinking” seems to have been stigmatized by society as a bad thing. Why is that? To think is to be human. Thinking is literally consciousness, or self-awareness, the most cherished of human traits. Some people think less and are less self-aware than others; therefore, they are less conscious. They are more animalistic and act on gut and instincts rather than thinking of the consequences to their actions. That’s certainly not good. Prisons are full of people like this. Continue reading →
Anxiety is a sign of intelligence because anxiety is essentially imagining the future. That’s how humans became so intelligent compared to other species. We developed an ability to imagine the future—to see different factors and anticipate something to happen before it does. As a result, we were able to set traps to kill prey. And realize if we plant a seed today, crops will grow weeks or months later. Or predict that we will fall if we step off a steep cliff. Imagination is possibly even the origin of consciousness itself. Continue reading →