In the middle lies anxiety

December 31st, 2013

I learn a lot from yoga.  I learn what my mind says I can’t do.  And what my body actually can do.  I learn that a regular physical practice keeps me grounded, or at least not as crazed as I am without it.  I also learn a few things that inform my therapy.

A few weeks back, I was in a class filled with eager students.  Our teacher, new to me, was quite enthusiastic…and insightful.  He began the class with a short talk.  We, the students, sat cross legged, in lotus position, or even on our knees; facing our teacher and waiting for the class to begin.  The teacher related the practice of yoga to everyday life.  What I heard, which might be different than what he actually said, was that in life, as in yoga, we have decisions to make each day.  There are two sides.  On one side we decide what we can change.  On the other side we decide what we cannot.  In between lies anxiety.  When we don’t accept the situation as it is and commit to that acceptance, we feel stress. Without clarity, there inlies anxiety.

In terms of yoga, we either commit to a pose and try or we know we are unable to do it yet and do not attempt it.  Either is fine. The space between is what can cause problems. If we aren’t committed to either choice, we do ourselves a disservice.  We either don’t see our full potential or we try something that we’re too nervous to do and hurt ourselves. The space between – the anxiety – doesn’t serve us.

This is similar in life.  For example, will another conversation with your partner change her drinking patterns?  Or should you finally accept that you can’t change her and decide what you need to do to take care of yourself?  You’ve tried and tried to avoid those sexual desires, but they keep coming back.  Is it time to discuss them with someone and perhaps even explore?  You want to date, but you’re fearful of rejection.  Do you accept that you won’t ever date again because rejections hurts too much?  Or do you decide to get back on that dating site and deal with the feelings that emerge?

Clarity will most likely lead to actions that aren’t easy to do – like that headstand in yoga. Those actions might be accompanied by fear.  We don’t know where our actions will lead – will I fall out of the headstand?  We only know where we’ve been.  And it’s fear that often keeps us from making a move.  But when we have clarity, whatever we decide, regardless of the fear, we have an inner sense of this being the “right” thing for us to do. So I try the headstand and maybe discover that I can do it.  Maybe it’s for just 2 seconds, but I do it nonetheless.  And I learn more about my potential and capabilities.

Living in the middle – in anxiety and indecision – is challenging.  It takes it’s toll on our emotional, spiritual, and physical health.  Coming to terms with what you can and cannot change isn’t always easy.  But it’s possible.  Talking with good friends, meditation, and 12 step programs certainly help people who are in the middle.  So does therapy and counseling.  Whatever step you decide to take, you are doing yourself a huge favor by getting out of the middle and back into your life.

If you are looking for a therapist or counselor in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC, feel free to contact Mike Giordano, LICSW at 202-460-6384 or Mike.Giordano.MSW@

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