Our natural desire is to be happy, and when we move away from it, we encounter fear. This fear is truly hundreds of thousands of years old, for it arises from the biological programming of our species. While we may not have to deal with a sabre-toothed tiger on any given day, we still make use of those very reactions to cope with events looming ahead. We think, “Will I be fired for making that mistake at work?” or “Will I be able to meet the mortgage after I fix the car?” or “Will my health continue to decline?” or “Will my relationship fall apart after that argument we just fell into?”
Running questions with this kind of urgency and helplessness teaches our brains to prepare now for future threat by loading our bodies up with the stress hormone cortisol. Anxiety is our anticipation of a threatening future. We imagine having even less of the little that we have these days. This anxiety does not assist us at all to meet the future any better. In fact, it weakens and exhausts us. We usually be concerned most about things that we cannot even control. Worrying about your dental visit, for instance, won’t make the visit better.
Anxiety, actually, is a silent killer. It is enervating, and it drains you of purpose and hope, faith and initiative. It fogs up your thinking. And it makes the body susceptible to illness. When anxiety–a fear of an event in the future–is high enough then you feel a deep sense of helplessness. This, consequently, converts into depression. You even begin to view the past as disappointing.
Caught between a miserable past and a frightening future, you create a pattern of emotions that may result in a range of mood disorders, including manic-depression. How do we escape from this vicious cycle?
Here is what I did 20 years ago and I’ve never since suffered from any serious mood disorder. I began to cultivate my awareness of my mood swings–from elation to black despair.
I did this by basically watching myself when I was manic, and watching myself when I was depressed, and watching what I did to turn on these states. For example to get depressed, I utilized my love of literature to concentrate on dark, morbid, and unhappy stories regarding life. And to get elated, I’d