Young And Afraid
The reason I felt the need to write this article, is merely a feeling. I feel like I’m in quite a good place in life, mentally & physically in life. I’ve come a long way since I was younger, 16 or 17 years old.
Growing up, I was loud-mouthed but afraid. Confident-looking but knees-trembling behind the mask. Years and years went by like this, I guess something had to give. And at age 16, it did. One night, I woke up in the middle of the night just completely covered in sweat. A feeling of complete discomfort rolled over me in waves of heavy thoughts and emotions. I thought I was going to die. I was sure I was going to die. That was my first of many panic attacks. Days went by not even wanting to go outside, afraid of life in general.
Heavy stuff, I know. And I could hide this pretty easily, still trying to be the cool guy. Afraid of being judged, rejected and so on. Years went by after this incident, with many challenges to be faced. If I could give some advice to this little version of me, this is what I would tell him.
Have More Trust In Life
People are in general good-hearted and are not ‘out to get you’. The world is not a dangerous place, as the media would like to make you believe, but it’s an awesome place full of opportunities. Our world today is the best place to be alive than it’s ever been, on so many levels.
A big word I’d like you to remember and try to believe in is TRUST, something that you, as my younger self, could have used more of. Having trust in my own abilities, in the people surrounding you and trust in the world. I was looking behind every corner for the ‘danger zone’: every little remark a person has made, a thought in my head about whatwas ‘going to happen’ and so on.
Instead I could have trusted the world more in it’s amazing ability to let everything and everyone land on it’s feet back again, after life’s rollercoaster put you upside in your chair.
With the word trust, so much goodness comes with it. You litterally give up a part of your worries and responsabilities to the outer world and circumstances, with that you give up the need to control or master every little detail. There’s a general feeling: ‘Hey, things will be alright after all…’
Have more trust, son.
Stop Worrying So Much
Easier said than done, I know. I’m pret-ty sure that you, reading this right now, experience worry from time to time. Of course you do, you’re human after all. Right? Well, as much as we worry in our daily lives, there’s something you should know about worrying. Like Mary Schmich said:
Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.
Not really effective, is it? Anyhow, lowering the amount of worrying goes hand in hand with the first point: TRUST. The more you have trust in your world, the less you try to take responsability for all the small things that you can’t control. Let’s try that for a moment.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Your Fears
When I experienced my first panic attack when I was 16 years old, lying in bed, I remember vividly what it felt like. Laying in bed, staring at the ceiling and feeling like everything in my life had gone, went and was going to go wrong. Yikes. This general, almost cellular feeling of dread, of not being okay. I felt it in every single part of my body. Swimming in sweat, that was the beginning of years governed by insecurity, anxiety and everything in between.
Now, reading the books I read and having gained certain perspectives (most of them through this tough period) I would like to tell you, younger self, that the emotions that we experience and the thoughts that we think, is not actually who you are. In our society it’s not difficult to mistake your thoughts for who you are. We describe thought processes as ‘I think’, feelings like ‘I feel’. This implies there is an active thinker or feeler, the ‘I’ in the sentence.
How I’d like you to invite to look at thoughts and emotions, is the following. You have an open window and this represents your mind. You as an observer look through this window and you see a clear blue sky, this is your consciousness. Now, sometimes we will, of course, see a few clouds pass by. These are our thoughts.
Now, what happens when we see a cloud on a sunny day and we say to ourselves: ‘Fuck you cloud, go away!’. We resist it, so we hold on to it. If we however say that it’s just a cloud passing by, all good and no worries, we let go of it and it’s purely an observation.
If we could look at our thoughts the same way we look at clouds passing by, that’s what is actually the way of meditation. No holding on, just observation without judgement. If you could just do that, young Christophe, you wouldn’t have gotten in such a deep place.
(Part II coming soon)