“Does anything in nature despair except man? An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair. It is too busy trying to survive.”
Is it any wonder that more and more people are becoming anxious, panicked and depressed.
In this modern world our needs as human beings have evolved.
We no longer have the trials of our ancestors which resvolved around how to stay alive. Our trials now revolve around how to feel alive.
We are no longer simply content with just survival, to have food, shelter and warmth.
Now we require success of the mind.
We want feelings of self-esteem, achievement, recognition and fulfilment.
However, you’ll often find that these are much harder to achieve.
Modern man seems to have got lost inside his mind.
If you found yourself starving, your throat dry, desperately seeking your next meal or a single drop of water to quench your thirst, your mind is so preoccupied with survival that it has no room for worry or despair.
You’d be too busy just trying to stay alive to sit there and over-think everything to the point it starts to negatively effect your mind.
We were not designed to have everything at our fingertips and so readily available.
We now live in our sheltered worlds, with our daily routines and coping techniques so that the pressure does not rise beyond an unbearable level.
Shying away from anything which may get our pulse racing even just a little.
It may seem like you are protecting yourself, trying to make your life as free from anxiety and panic as possible.
Let me tell you, you are not.
All you are doing is perpetuating that feeling inside of worry and despair, in the hope you will be ok and able to cope.
The problem is, avoidance may help in the moment, but no-one wants to live a life where they are constantly checking how they feel and trying to avoid anything which may take them from their comfort zone.
Just like me, I’m sure you want for more, but you want it without the fear.
There’s a reason why we do.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
In 1943 Abraham Maslow produced a paper in which he stated that everyone has a hierarchy of needs, ranging from those required for basic survival (food, water, air, sleep etc) to self-actualisation (morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving etc).
He said that if the basic needs are not met they cause physiological symptoms, often leading to death.
More importantly he also noted that if these basic needs are met but we are unable to obtain the next level then an individual is likely to become anxious and stressed.
Maslow wanted to understand what motivated people to achieve certain needs. He explained that once you have met a certain level of needs you are then able to become motivated to reach the next level and so on.
However, in today’s world the majority of people have very easily been provided with their basic needs.
For instance, I am presuming that if you are reading this you are not too concerned about where your next meal is coming from. Otherwise you would be out looking for it, rather than reading this online.
We now want for more than just to mate, reproduce and stay alive.
Why is this important?
Many thousands of years ago humans were simply trying to acquire the basic physiological level of needs. All they wanted was to survive and, if able to, reproduce.
Now as society and the world has progressed most people have their basic needs easily met. Many have also met most if not all of the second level and often even the third level.
It is that fourth level based around ‘esteem’ which most of us are now motivated (subconsciously) to try and obtain.
Do you see the difference involved between levels 3 and 4?
The difference is that levels 1-3 are on the whole are all things we can either touch, see or are natural bodily functions.
The fourth level which contains self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others are all obtained in the mind.
These are controlled by our thoughts and feelings – something we cannot physically alter or manipulate.
If our thoughts are working against us we find it very hard to reach the fourth level.
Often it is just because people do not understand what is involved to achieve these things. In our younger years we are all too focused on academic study, we are not taught about what brings happiness and peace of mind.
This inability to achieve ‘success of the mind’ is a big reason why people end up feeling anxious and stressed.
It is this 4th level which more and more people are now trying to achieve and explains why even the rich and famous who ‘have it all’ are not immune to mental health issues.
How does this apply to you?
The human brain evolved to deal with challenge and difficulty, to be able to overcome adversity.
It relishes a challenge to improve itself and to grow stronger as you push yourself to accomplish more.
Every day you sit around in your protected bubble, avoiding anything that could burst it you are denying your inner desire to become better, to do more and to push your limits of possibility.
Just because you have everything you need to survive, does not mean you can sit back and just coast on by.
For every time you do, for every time you turn down a new opportunity or hold yourself back ‘just in case’ you deny yourself the chance to grow and to feel well again.
Instead you leave time and space for thoughts to develop; an unoccupied mind leads to worry, anxiety, feelings of panic and depressing thoughts.
While you think you are just doing what you need to get by you’re actually taking steps in the wrong direction.
Anxiety has always thrived best inside an idle mind.
So what must you do?
It’s very simple, you must not allow your anxiety or panic to limit what you do.
You must still carry on your life and have a passion and desire for something important to you.
Something you will fight for in spite of the way you feel.
Unless you push yourself to grow and develop, to always strive for better and to take on new challenges and experiences you let your mind sit still and your fears roll in.
It’s not on a conscious level, but you know deep down that you are limiting yourself and what you are able to achieve.
You know the way you feel is making you waste the precious time you have and that if you allow this to continue you will one day look back with anger and regret.
Do not allow your thoughts and fears to stop you becoming who you want to be.
These new challenges and experiences do not need to be huge and heroic, they just need to be the next steps on your path in life.
To beat your fears you must push yourself every day and hold ever near in your thoughts that the more you do, the more you challenge yourself, the better you will feel.
This teaches you not to focus on your thoughts and feelings, but to get on with life despite the way you feel, and it is this which will ultimately help steer you on your path to recovery.
You need something (or even many things) bigger in your life than your anxiety, so that your focus in on the good, not the bad.
Something which will make you want to wake up every morning with purpose and desire.
For when you do, it doesn’t take long to see the positive effects in the way you feel.
This is what will help you achieve your ‘success of the mind’.
Like this article?
Sign up to receive new posts directly to your inbox for FREE. Just enter your email below and click SUBMIT. We will never share your email – EVER!