Sometimes we get into a funk. We feel overwhelmed by complexity. Too many things crowd our “to do” lists. Too many crises and potential crises loom. What to do?
Most of us just freak out. We throw in the towel. And from a psychological point of view, this may be healthy in the short run — especially if the other choice is to fall on your sword. But there is another option here. It is an option that requires a certain toughness, or call it courage. Here is how it works.
Instead of seeing complexity as an external condition, we might consider that it is evidence of internal mess. In other words, we can make anything complex if we allow ourselves to see it that way. Similarly, we can make anything difficult if we allow ourselves to see it that way. Even getting out of bed might become out of reach.
In this state, there is a way out. the first step is to make a choice. The choice is to ignore complexity in favor of simplicity. Then we have a challenge — to find simplicity. It doesn’t matter if that simplicity defines every aspect of what you see, as long as it defines one aspect. Once you see this, act on it immediately. Don’t hesitate. Act. Practice this and you will start seeing more simple things. You will start to notice that many of the complex and difficult things that plagued you are beasts of your own creation.
A coincidence - I saw this in NYT today
“If you worry about everything, it will get in the way of what you really need to address,” she explained. “The best decisions are not made when your mind is spinning out of control, racing ahead with predictions about how things are never going to get any better. Precious energy is wasted when you’re always thinking about the worst-case scenarios.”
When faced with serious challenges, it helps to narrow them down to specific things you can do now. To my mind, Dr. Chansky’s most valuable suggestion for emerging from paralyzing anxiety when faced with a monumental task is to “stay in the present — it doesn’t help to be in the future.
Falling in love with the present is a result of implementing a skill set. Sounds a bit weird, but it is true. It is about seeing what you need to see and ignoring the rest. This quote from the story of a group of Norwegians who blew up the heavy water facility run by the Nazis during the war captures what I am talking about
“We didn’t think about whether it was dangerous or not,” Joachim Ronneberg, the leader of the mission, recalled in an interview in The Telegraph of London in 2010. “We didn’t think about our retreat.”
I took the quote from the obit of Birger Stromsheim, who just passed away at the ripe old age of 101. Stromsheim was the oldest member of the group.