These skills are also mentioned in our video course “Retire on Social Security“.
Don’t Punish Myself – I realized that if I put myself down for being afraid or anxious, then I have two problems instead of just one – the anxiety, and feeling bad about myself. It’s OK to be afraid at a time like this. It’s natural. I just do my best to keep my mind off it, and keep moving.
I’m a good person trying my best, so what else can I do? I’m learning not to punish myself for anything, no matter what I do or don’t do. If I do something I’m not happy with I learn from it, and keep on going. Beating myself up is never constructive. It only makes me less happy to be alive and less productive.
How I Cured Insomnia – Worry is fear, just not so large or urgent, but it has all the same characteristics. One of the worst problems caused by worry is insomnia. Many years ago I decided that from the time I went to bed until I got up the next morning I really didn’t care at all what happened to anybody or anything.
What could I do about it when I was asleep? You might think I’m heartless and cruel, but since then I’ve never had trouble sleeping. And I always turned back into my caring, kind, considerate self in the morning. 🙂
Blame and Revenge – When I blame someone else for my problems, even those caused by Covid-19, I am making myself a victim. I’m making myself feel helpless and weak. The most powerful course of action, and the most practical, is to take responsibility for my situation, deal with it as it is, and do whatever I can to get my life back on track.
Trying to get revenge or make trouble for whoever caused my problems always makes more problems for me. Why would I want to make more problems for myself? The enjoyment I get from making their life miserable is always less than the additional problems I make for myself. I’ve found it’s much better to forgive and forget, and just keep going.
Detach From Anxiety – Sometimes when I was anxious or afraid I noticed myself breathing rapidly and scanning my surroundings for danger, even when there wasn’t any. When this happened I would take a few deep breaths, and listen to the sound of my breathing. I closed my eyes and felt my breath as it went in and out through my nose.
Then I visualized bringing my energy back from scanning everything around me, into the part of my abdomen just below my navel. Then I took one step back from my body. That enabled me to be just a little detached from what’s happening around me. I still knew what was going on. I just wasn’t caught up in it.
- Fear is Irrational – When I feel myself starting to be afraid or anxious, I remember that what I’m afraid of hasn’t happened yet and may never happen. I also remember that fear makes me less intelligent, less resourceful, and less able to solve problems. These are the abilities I need most. I’m better off if I bring myself back to the present moment, and release the fear.
- Release The Fear – To let my fear go I first have to feel it in my body. Sit quietly, relax, close your eyes, and notice how the different parts of your body feel. Where do you feel the fear? What does it feel like? Does it vibrate? Is it like a wave? Does it have a colour? What size is it? What shape? Then visualize it going down out of your body through your feet to the ground.
Complaining – I used to complain a lot about life being unfair, until I realized that whether it’s unfair or not, the only way I’m going to improve it is by taking action. When I complain about the problems this virus has caused me I make myself into a victim. I give away my power, and make myself feel helpless.
That’s not a productive or fulfilling way to live. I’ve looked at it carefully, and never found a situation where complaining adds something constructive. I’m training myself never to complain about anything.
The problem with complaining is that it’s socially acceptable. Everybody does it! So I used to use it as a way of relating to strangers in the elevator or people I met for the first time. But in recent years I found that people I don’t know are just as open to talking if I mention something great about the situation.
Wishing – When I wish I didn’t have to stay home or that things are different than they are, I’m not facing reality. I’m not dealing with life the way it is. How can I improve my life if I’m living in a fantasy? Of course it’s understandable. It’s just that it’s not productive.
Wishing makes me feel helpless. Thinking of yourself as a victim of circumstances is still being a victim. When I hear myself say “I wish (something) would happen” I say to myself “Don’t wish. Make it happen”.