But I did get up and I did prepare a meal...and just in time. I had only placed the teapot on the table when Dharma arrived. We exchanged pleasantries, briefly, when he asked me why I didn't seem like myself. I explained that I was feeling anxious and stressed over a couple of decisions I had to make. And because of the extra stress, I wasn't feeling great or sleeping well. Then Dharma asked me a kind of weird question, "Irwin, are you happy?" I was taken back by this but I did manage to explain to him, "No. Not really, Sir. Everything seems a mess right now and I am not experiencing my usual pleasure with my life. Why do you ask?" Tadpole, a frog's happiness exists in the absence of anxiety. The two are intertwined. My boy, anxiety is a scam. And we frogs, humans too, shouldn't allow it to ruin our day or our life. Everyone deserves to find happiness." This idea intrigued me and I wanted to know more!
"Dharma, why is anxiety a scam?" "That's a good question, Irwin. And here's why. A scam is defined as "a dishonest scheme" or "a fraud." The truth is that these define anxiety extremely well. Anxiety is by its very nature something that is fraudulent. In many ways, it's a mental health disorder that is based on the idea that your brain is telling you that certain things are happening when they're not. I'd say that is a perfect example of a scam, wouldn't you?" "Yes, Sir, it seems to be. But the stuff going on in my brain seems so very real! And now you tell me, that it isn't?"
"Yes, Irwin, in a way it isn't real. Scams work because they take advantage of you. They create trust – misplaced trust – and they create a feeling as though there is a reason for them to be there when there isn't. The following are many different reasons that anxiety itself falls under the definition of scam: 1. Anxiety is a false fear. Anxiety is a biological thing and is set off by your body's fight or flight response. Anxiety is the activation of this system but without the basis of real fear. In a sense, your brain is telling you, 'Hey trust me on this...you should be scared. But "99.9% of the time, that fear is misplaced. Whatever is scaring you really isn't a matter of life and death. 2. Anxiety is self-sustaining. Another problem that often arises from anxiety is fear over anxiety. Essentially, those with anxiety are not only experiencing a reaction to whatever fear their anxiety is causing them to react to; they are eventually reacting to their own anxiety. In this sense, anxiety creates this feeling that anxiety itself is to fear. All anxiety disorders have this problem. 3. Anxiety makes you believe that is permanent or untreatable. For something to really be a scam, it needs to create trust. While no one that has anxiety wants to have anxiety, they'll often find that they trust their anxiety in ways that they are unable to control, and usually aren't cognizant of occurring. Anxiety can actually change the way you think to such a degree that you believe that your thoughts are real. 4. Anxiety is a trick of life. Taking it a step back, one might even say that anxiety itself is simply a trick of life, not just a tricked mind. No matter your personal religious beliefs, everyone believes that their life should have a purpose. It doesn't matter what you believe your purpose is, anxiety affects all of it. It takes away your ability to live a purpose-filled life. Anxiety wasn't something you wished for. It was something you contracted, like a disease, that takes away your ability to live that purpose-filled life. 5, And now for the good news, my boy. Anxiety may make you feel helpless. It may make you feel like there is nothing you can do. It may affect your thoughts and your motivations so that it actually makes it harder for you to function properly. In severe or prolonged case, it can feel as if anxiety is untreatable. But that simply isn't true. This is what scammers do, though. This is how they affect the way you think and feel. Scammers succeed because they're incredibly convincing, and they give you the feeling that you can unquestionably trust them."
Since I was being to feel a little bit better, I asked Dharma the best way to avoid falling into the anxiety trap. His advice was simple; recognize anxiety for what it is. It's a scam and does not have power over you. You have power over it. And as long as you allow anxiety to rule your life, you deprive yourself of your right to be happy. Everyone with anxiety needs to dedicate themselves to the idea that you deserve and should be fighting for happiness. Learn to control your anxiety, and the power that anxiety has over you and it will be gone forever. But if you have severe anxiety, more than what most everyone experiences now and then, you owe it to yourself to seek treatment. It is treatable and no one should have to live with fear or dread or worry. Each day spent like that, is one less day of happiness. And how do you want to spend your life, Irwin?" I didn't need to think twice about this. I want to be happy! Happy is good.
Dharma helped me clear the table and then hopped off to meet with his next student. Dharma has this way of being here at exactly the right time. I am very fortunate to have him in my life. After breathing a few sighs of relief, I knew then that I could face whatever challenges might come my way. And I have no doubt that you can, too! Anxiety is a curse. But one that no one need live with.
Tomorrow, I'll be spending a little time in my garden and I hope that you will plan on joining me. I have a few interesting facts to share with you on this subject. I think they'll surprise you! Until then, I wish you