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  • Lijing Cobb

Anxiety

Now that I no longer work on weekends, I really appreciate the therapeutic value of two days without any expectations of having to do anything. Come Sunday afternoon, however, my heart starts to get a little bit heavy, and at night I can feel my anxiety level rise. Tomorrow is a full day, just the start of the work week where I am expected to teach a lot of my clients to give them what they are looking for. With that anticipation in mind, I can no longer immerse myself in the moment. Life becomes a little bit duller just at the thought of work.

But I love what I do. When Monday comes, followed by Tuesday, and the rest of the week days, in those sessions where I meet my clients in flesh and blood, I’m all good. No stress, no anxiety. So what’s with my anxiety on Sunday evening?


Some weekends are so relaxing that my 10yo would bemoan her fate of having to go to school the next day. This is a girl who absolutely loves school and excels at everything she does, and whenever she comes back from school she always reports having had a great day. What’s with her anxiety?


Sometimes my 9yo and 7yo really struggle with having to go to their music lessons. They would twist their limber bodies into a pretzel in protest of the tragic outlook, but when they get out of their lessons they invariably admit having had a good lesson and thank me for forcing them to go. What’s with their anxiety?


Yesterday afternoon after receiving a text from one of my clients who announced that circumstances were such that he would be taking a break from training for a while, my anxiety level immediately started to climb. Did I do something wrong? Am I not good enough? What are his real reasons? Questions started to snowball in my mind, and then everything that was happening around me lost its magic. I was sunk in this tiny hole of a text and allowing my mounting anxiety to drown me. As soon as I realized that, I started focusing my eyes. I paid attention to what I was doing at that exact moment: I was standing on my feet, breathing, in my own house, the sun was shining outside. I was safe and sound. So I stayed with that good feeling, and let go of the questions that would have driven me into a maddening spiral.


Anxiety is just such a thing: worrying about something that’s uncertain, because it hasn’t happened yet. Peace is just such a thing: focusing on something that is present, within grasp, happening right now. The more I stay with what’s right in front of me, the less anxiety I need to deal with. If I only stay with what’s right in front of me, I would never be anxious!


Anxiety is like a bleeding color. The more surface I allow it to touch, the further it spreads. But it can only spread if I carry it with me. Leave the color in its bucket with a tight seal, and everything else is smear-safe.


Recently I started reading a book on the Chinese Revolution. The first dozen pages were enthralling. The next few dozens started to drag a bit. And then it just completely lost me. Every time I had free time to read and reached for that book, anxiety struck. Then I realized that nobody ever said that I had to read that book. I also did not have to finish it. In other words, I was suffering for no reason whatsoever. So I moved on to the next book.


I think it might be a very good practice to scan my life from time to time just to see what things I do cause me anxiety, and whether there is a good reason for it. If not, then I should abandon the said anxiety by focusing on the moment. But if there is a good reason for the anxiety to mount, then it is time to make changes so that I will no longer suffer from such unnecessary disturbances.


As they say, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. I hope they are right.

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