Look, I’m the doctor here, so let me do the googling
One habit for preventing sending our brains into a frenzy is to step away from the keyboard when we’re feeling particularly emotional.
After all, the internet is a hypochondriac’s nightmare. It’s a minefield of confirmation bias, misguided judgments, amateur opinions and extreme scenarios.
Think of it this way. When was the last time typing your symptoms into a search engine actually made you feel calmer?
There’s even a word for it. Cyberchondria, which is defined by a renowned psychiatry journal as the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomology based on review of search results and literature online.
And that’s just one example.
Ellis’s book about overcoming destructive feelings explores something called anxietizing. It’s when we create our own anxiety about anxiety and make ourselves doubly or triply disturbed. Not because of events that happen to us, but because of our meaning and interpretations of those events.
And if we want to reduce our pattern of disturbing ourselves, he explains, then unconditional acceptance of self is critical. Ellis calls it an elegant philosophical solution in which we refuse to rate ourselves and our totality at all, and rate only what do and do not do.
In short, we must practice being kind to ourselves in small, concrete ways. Especially if stress, anxiety, panic or depression are particularly high. We are not doing or nervous systems any favors by trying to diagnose our own condition. I’m reminded of my friend, who is a highly respected obstetrician, and his favorite joke his to tell patients is this:
Look, I’m the doctor here, so let me do the googling.
All kidding aside, each of us must get into the habit of not adding fuel to our anxiety fire. Instead of escalating our already racing heart rate, we take more constructive, more compassionate, less hostile actions towards ourselves.
That might mean putting an embargo on the messages we allow unqualified people to give us, or being more careful about the messages we give to ourselves.
Look, isn’t the world already disturbing enough? Isn’t there already too much excessive information out there that’s gunking up our emotional feeds and disturbing our peaceful inner meadow?
Anxiety doesn’t need more anxiety, it needs more acceptance and love.
Taoist monks say that if we want to eliminate something, then we must first deliberately allow it to flourish.
Perhaps that is the ideal path to becoming calmer.
Not adding any more meaning and interpretation than we need to.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What is your favorite way to disturb yourself?