“Be alone, that is the secret of invention. Be alone, that is when ideas are born,” Nikola Tesla. I wanted to take a break from talking about the source of anxiety to talking about relieving it. I’ve spoken candidly about taking action and about taking accurate account of what is going on in your life to give yourself a break. But this quote covers a couple of things. A lot of people who suffer from anxiety simply deal with too much stimulation. In my last post I listed off all of the things going on in my life—and those are all DAILY things. It’s no wonder with that kind of pressure that we start to feel like we are going to explode. Beyond the pressure, it is all too much stimulation. Anxiety is also the result of not being able to properly process outside input, and when we take in too much, our brain doesn’t know how to react. That is where this quote comes in.
I’ve never really mentioned taking time to be alone with the purpose of removing stimulation. My brain tends to be very active whether I’m anxious or not so I have to be very conscious and recognize when that activity is about to turn to anxiety. I know I’m not alone when it comes to being raised on the belief that activity generates worth—but we never question whether that activity is serving us. I know we all have obligations, I’m not talking about becoming entirely self-serving. But I am talking about finding the balance.
So, when we start to feel overwhelmed with our current situation, it really does help to remove ourselves. Retreat. That word causes some confusion because we tend to think of retreat as sacrificing something, or giving up. The reality is, retreat is entirely strategic. It is in retreat that we can take stock of where we are at and mend and tend our minds to redirect if needed. We can’t see the forest for the trees if we are locked in a state of over-stimulation. We blind ourselves to what’s around us and aren’t able to orient ourselves. Soon the world feels like it’s spinning and before we know it we are curled up in a ball, unable to move. When we are in that state, we have to find a way to get quiet and hear. We have to train ourselves to listen to the truth that only comes from within.
Going back to redirection, it is when we redirect that new opportunities reveal themselves. When we see the new opportunity, we start fulfilling my other anti-anxiety strategy: doing. The anxious person’s over active mind does have a purpose—there are valuable things that come from the creativity of constant movement. We just have to learn to identify them and act on them. Tesla talks about solitude being the mother of invention, and while he was more than likely referencing focused effort, I look at it as removing unnecessary distraction. When we remove the chatter from our own minds, we see ourselves in a new light.