In recent years, anxiety has become one of the most substantial disorders in both the United States and Canada, affecting large percentages of both populations. In fact, 18.1% of the US population and more than 3.2% of the Canadian population (a low estimate due to the lack of inclusion of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Phobias) are affected by some form or another of anxiety. In some cases, that's almost 1 in 5 people who are ruled by their fears on a daily basis, struggling against their anxieties to live a normal life.
Those with anxiety do not see the world as everyone else does. Everything they experience becomes an overwhelming situation. They are distressed by what happens today, worried about what will happen tomorrow, and mortified about what will happen three weeks from now. Their minds are constantly going, second guessing every decision they made and running through endless mental lists of tasks that need to be completed.
The chatter starts with the first breath of air in the morning and the last grunt of exhaustion at night: "I'm so stressed out; there's too much to do and so little time; I can make it to next week; what if I 'm doing this wrong? " The list goes on and on, making it impossible for someone with anxiety to even begin living their life normally. Every day presents new problems and every new problem is an obstacle.
While some worry about everything they must complete in the now, there are others who dwell constantly on what has happened in the past. These individuals will constantly replay memories in their head, drowning themselves in guilt, sorrow, and hurt – constantly triggering emotions and memories that inundate them with pain over and over again. Why would anyone want to do this to themselves? For some, remembering days long gone can bring happiness and relief. Unfortunately, for most people, it also triggers pain and suffering and yet they continue to pay for the trade off, willingly submitting themselves to such discomfort.
Reliving the past is an act of the ego; individuals seek to placate their ego by returning to days gone by and experiencing that momentary rush of relief. When someone retreats and hides within their memories, the ego has succeeded in overcoming the present – sidelining the you that exists in the here and now. The person then starts to correlate the sensation of relief they feel in these moments with their memories and will continually dwell in the past to combat their anxieties.
But, the cycle only solidifies when this happens. By living in the past, the individual is actively combating the present and the future, and causing themselves even more pain as they attempt to hide from their actual emotions. While they seek to relive what they have felt in the past so as to experience their temporary relief, the individual is submitting themselves to even greater sensations of fear in the present and future, a time when they have no control over their emotions – they do not know what will come next.
Reality starts to become more of an illusion – one populated with emotions triggered by memories of the past. They live a life that was once their own, but is now no more than an echo; a shadow of who they are now. When the two begin to coincide, the sense of self dissipates and they start to suffer for their unwillingness to face their life in the present. It is this experience, this anxiety, that plagues so many people in North America and that could be holding you back right now.