There is a famous phrase that goes: "You can't have this without that." I don't know the original author of that quote, but I still take solace in it. There are so many things that will challenge us and put pressure on our existence, and I want to share with you exactly how I cope when things become overwhelming.
I want to start by saying that these methods are mine and are rooted in personal experience. I'm not giving any kind of medical advice, as I'm not qualified, and I'm certainly not giving any advice on mental health; because I'm not qualified to do that either. But, I am qualified to find peace in my existence, so that's what I am going to share with you.
We all know it when we are overwhelmed. It's something that comes and goes almost suddenly and impacts both our mental and physical states. For me, it's a weight that presses down on my shoulders, pushes in on my chest, and makes everything feel like a disaster. I know exactly how it feels, because it's how I feel right now.
I am currently a mess of things with work, AnthroBrand, Discord, Telegram, Twitter, family, friends, my partner, and even my cat all wanting my time and attention. As we all know, life is messy, complex, and impossibly hard sometimes. I feel irritable, sad, frustrated, afraid, and physically ill, all at the same time. There is just too much for me to pay attention to anymore and I feel like I am constantly failing somewhere because I can't keep up. I feel like my performance at work is slipping, like I am being a bad friend for not responding, like I am ignoring my family because they ask things of me and I decline, and just so much more. I'm sure that more than one of you can relate to some, if not all, of these feelings.
If this sounds like you, then I want you to know that you're not alone. I get it. I am there right now and I have been here many times before. I hope that this article about how I cope is helpful, because my methods are both bizarre and unconventional; but don't involve any kind of drugs. This is just something I do to think myself out of these ruts. Please don't let the concept of thinking yourself free scare you, it's not as complicated as it sounds, and it doesn't require any math or reading.
If you can't touch it, taste it, or see it, how real is it?
The first thing I do when I begin to think myself out of being overwhelmed is silly, but true: I look at my hands. I look down into my palms, turn my hands back and forth, and take a deep breath. I use this seconds-long exercise to find my center and to act as a very important reminder when it comes to problems: if you can't touch it, taste it, or see it, how real is it? The truth is, almost all of my problems aren't real. Some of them I make up just by existing, and others I think into being because I can't stop thinking. I take my thoughts so seriously that they become reality; and that's why I look at my hands.
We think so many things into reality and learning how to stop and catch that is key to keeping yourself from fracturing under the pressure of life. Just existing is hard. Nothing is simple and everything needs our attention at the same time. Taking a second to just stop, breathe, and look at my hands helps me to realize that most of the issues I am facing are made up by me. Are my friends and family actually upset with me because I'm busy? No. Is my Twitter account going down in flames because I'm not posting? Nope. Is everyone on Discord and Telegram angry because I don't have as much time to be on there because of work? Also no. These stressors are mine, I made them, and I can unmake them if I stop and think about it. The next thing I do is just as simple, but requires more thought: I remind myself that there is very little that I can truly control.
This may sound a bit cliche, but really, let it go.
Breathing is one of my favorite things, and when you think about it, it's one of yours too. Without it, we would cease to exist, but when it comes to controlling it, do you? Of course you can hold your breath if you think about it, or control your breathing with acute thought, but what about all of the other times? Even when you don't think about it, you're still breathing. In the same way, what do you do about the sun, the moon, or even the thoughts of others? My influence is not so great that I have control over any of these things, so why do I feel like I am constantly failing at every turn? Again, I turn inward.
When it comes to all of the external pressures that life forces on me, I do my best to just breathe and release my grasp on those things. This may sound a bit cliche, but really, let it go. There are so many things I cannot control and I take solace in them. My heart beats, the sun rises, the Earth turns, all on their own. My friends and family navigate their own way through the world and I'm thrilled to have them as part of my life, but just having them shouldn't be a source of stress. I don't control these people, their thoughts, or their feelings. I am going to do what's best for me and sometimes that means withdrawing from social circles or even prioritizing some over others. At the end of the day, each one of us will continue to live our lives in whatever way works for us. That's the power of choice, not control, and that's what keeps me grounded when I feel overwhelmed.
The last thing I do, and subsequently the title of this article, is remind myself that I cannot have this without that. I cannot have peace without conflict, I cannot have soothing moments without stressful ones, and I can never truly justify a decision. It is not possible to have a life of nothing but happiness. Without stress, conflict, depression, and all of the aspects of life that are normally deemed "negative," we wouldn't know what the "positive" ones were. And no matter how much time you spend mulling over a decision, the only thing you have to deal with, in the end, are the consequences. The data for any given decision is literally infinite, so what we do is go through the motions of thinking, planning, and analyzing, only to make a snap judgement when the time comes. So why worry?
Breathe, look at your hands, ask yourself how real the problems are, let it go, realize that you cannot have this without that, and finally, come to peace with the fact that your decisions are never going to be foolproof. We think so many things into existence and once you stop to focus on them, you may find they aren't actually real. It's a very Zen way of life and I have no idea why it actually works, but I at least wanted to share my coping methods. Thanks for reading and I hope this helps, no matter what you're going through.