Contentment — Anxiety’s Alter Ego

Take a moment now to do some sense making.  Move your awareness inside your body and see if you can sense whether you are content.  If your experience tells you this is not the case, then sense what is there instead.

I often tell clients “Contentment is the opposite of anxiety.”  Often, if we are not feeling one, we are feeling the other.  Living in an iVUCA — interconnected, volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous — world increases our susceptibility to anxiety.  Consequently, we need to be mindful of not being sucked into the downward spiraling vortex of “hurry up, work harder, do more, speed is everything” illusion.

One successful way I steer myself away from the anxiety pit is to recognize that external goals, such as status and material gain, don’t bring contentment.  Wealth and status can certainly ease anxiety and stress, but they will never eliminate them or bring us contentment.  Contentment is an inside job, which affirms the adage that money doesn’t buy happiness.  Similarly, anxiety is an inside job — as are all emotions we experience.  We are the creators of all that we feel, and therefore, the source of our own contentment.

Many people, when asked, “What brings you a sense of contentment?” state “I don’t know.”  From childhood onward, as humans we have always been very good at knowing what we don’t want but not so good at knowing what we do want or how to get it.  This is not bad news because it presents us with a great starting point.

Start with making a list about what you don’t want in your life.  Are the items on this list connected to your feelings of anxiety or lack of contentment?  When I realized it was a false belief that I needed to “hurry up, work harder, do more” to be successful, I began the process of eliminating anxiety.  Both anxiety and depression are physical experiences in our body.  Just as you can feel their presence, you can also feel their absence and/or departure from your body.

Learning what brings contentment begins with releasing what triggers anxiety.  Releasing what we don’t want in our lives clears the way for what we do want — that which brings us contentment and joy. Disassembling the wall erected around our anxiety allows us to uncover its source.  Louise Hay believes the root cause of most human and spiritual suffering is low self-esteem, or as I might put it, lack of self-love.  Ask yourself, “Do I love who I am?”  Content, successful people immediately answer yes.

By the way, the keys to success are also not external.  See for yourself.

 Dr. William Menninger’s 6 keys to success are:           

Sincerity

Personal Integrity

Humility

Courtesy

Wisdom

Charity   

If you want more contentment and success in your life, try living by these six internal standards.  If that seems too formidable, then try repeating positive affirmations about yourself.  Below is a wonderful affirmation to repeat silently or out loud whenever you need to jar your mind away from anxiousness.

The two main keys to positive changes in my life are self-approval and self-acceptance.
These qualities make my life the best it can be.     
Louise Hay

For more on self-acceptance, contentment and joy, click here.

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