You Always Have A Choice
Don't Allow Others to Dictate the Direction of Your Life
About a week ago, I was having my morning coffee time with a friend. The news was playing in the background, but my ears perked up when I heard a report about the growing anxiety crisis in our culture.
I only caught the tail end of the report, but it piqued my interest when they said, “For the first time ever, a panel of health experts recommends that all adults under the age of 65 should undergo a mandatory anxiety screening.”
Now, I’m not a medical expert. And I don’t pretend to be either. Obviously, anxiety is a real mental health matter. While some people have little control over this disorder, most have significant control over their anxiety.
As I listened to that news report, I wondered, “How many people have even greater anxiety now?” The news sells fear. And we consume a steady diet of what they dish up every day to keep us wound up and watching.
Is it any wonder why we have increased anxiety? But you can’t blame the media—we hold the remote control. No one is forcing us to watch TV. We don’t have to be on our phones. And we don’t have to be on social media.
The negativity we ingest isn’t necessarily reality—unless we choose to believe everything we hear. If we fill our minds with the world’s worst news, that’s what we will eventually and inevitably believe as truth.
The same is true about the information we tell ourselves about ourselves or the information we accept from others. We’ll accept the input as truth until the output of our lives reflects what we choose to believe.
A significant reason we struggle in life is because of the pressure we place on ourselves. No wonder we feel anxious. If you want, you can stop trying so hard and start relaxing more by taking control of your mind.
Most of the news we consume is nothing more than noise. And we know it. But we keep listening instead of choosing to turn it off. Practically, we feed our fears and create our own news cycle with stories of worry.
Let me repeat that anxiety is a real disorder. Clearly. But there is such a condition as psychosomatic anxiety as well which occurs by listening to the mix-tape of our lives we have concocted and play on loop.
We have the power. We hold the remote. Most of us don’t suffer from legitimate anxiety or a mental disorder. We can stop listening to the voice in us and the voices around us that keep stirring the pot.
So how can we shut out the worry and fear running rampant in our minds and take control and reclaim our lives? Well, this might sound a bit abrupt and rude, but let me suggest we learn to shut up and relax.
Like me, you were probably taught not to tell people to shut up. But we all know there are times no other phrase will do. “Hush.” or “Please be quiet.” won’t cut it. And I suggest that we are in one of those times.
Quite often, the words coming from our mouths do nothing but fuel our fears. We know it’s true, but we keep stoking the fire anyway. Instead of exercising self-control, we just keep talking and making noise.
Instead of speaking words of edification, we spew depreciation—about ourselves and others—knowing it’s not helpful. Whether a dialogue or monologue, it’s unhealthy and does little more than feed our egos.
But changing our words doesn’t start with our mouths—it begins in our minds. Our thoughts produce the language we use. So how do you begin to transform your mind? Let me suggest that we learn to relax.
Feeling relaxed is the most important step you can take in order to change your life. And anybody can do it. Anybody. While the idea of relaxation is often viewed as a time of physical rest, it is so much more.
But resting your body is a great place to begin. Now, I’m not prescribing ways for you to relax because there are many means of relaxation. Some people take a nap. Others go for a run. Some smoke a cigarette.
How you relax is not the issue. That you relax is the point. Relaxation is a state of low tension in the body and the mind. They go hand-in-hand. The lack of relaxation creates stress—which expresses itself as—anxiety.
Learning to relax quiets the mind and the mouth. So where do you begin? Again, there are many relaxation techniques, so let me offer an overall premise—ease up, breathe, and be patient with yourself.
When we learn to practice these principles, we can shift our focus from seeking validation and identity from an outward source to an inward focus. Everything you need you already are. It’s inside, not outside.
The process of becoming less outwardly focused on life will take time. But who cares? It doesn’t matter because you control the channel and decide what and who you listen to in life. And the choice is always yours.
Some people will not accept this advice and call it mumbo-jumbo, but you’ll see the difference because you’ll become gentler, kinder, and more forgiving toward yourself. And you’ll discover yourself to be far less needy.
You won’t find happiness, peace, or contentment outside yourself. Stop relying on others to provide it for you—just relax. You’re fine just as you are. That’s the message you need to fix in your imagination today.
The growing anxiety many people experience comes from imagined negative events that will never happen. They are assumptions, and the mind always behaves according to the assumption with which it starts.
You can choose to feel good more often. You can choose to feel at peace. You can choose to feel relaxed. Or you can suffer needlessly in your imagination and continue to see the worst in the world. It’s your choice.
Today, I encourage you to be present in the moment instead of worried about the future (which you can’t control). And certainly don’t fret about the past (that moment is gone, too). Choose to get over it.
There are people on this planet with real anxiety disorders, but for most people, it’s all in their minds. So choose a different thought today. Choose to be gentle and kind with yourself today. Please just shut up and relax.
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