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Reducing overthinking and anxiety || (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
86 reads

Questioner: How should one reduce overthinking about situations and about the future? There is so much unnecessary anxiety in students.

Acharya Prashant: Work! To be anxious, you need to be blessed with a lot of spare time. How do you manage time to indulge in anxiety?

It is an indulgence to be anxious, worried. There is subtle enjoyment in all that. “I am worried. Something great is about to happen.” One is subtly sipping some juice. It's a covert kind of fun — anxiety, worry. May I say it's related to narcissism? When you say, "Something bad can happen to me, either right now or in the future", aren't you saying you are very important, at least to yourself? "Some really big misfortune is going to fall on me!" Indirectly you are asserting that you are so big that you can attract a big misfortune. Are you that big?

Has anything really big ever happened to you? Then how can even a big boulder fall on your head?

But there is pleasure in worry. This will sound strange to many. But stay with it. There is subtle pleasure in worrying. The opposite of this self-centered worry is immersion in action. Immerse yourself in the right action, then where are space and the time to worry? Indeed you are stealing time away from work. So that you can indulge in worries and anxiety and fancy and all kinds. Young people fantasize, don't they? Some fantasize about beautiful, pretty exciting things; others fantasize about scary demons. But fundamentally, it's much the same thing.

You are using your faculty of imagination to gratify yourself in some way.

You have rom-coms, and then you have horror flicks. One is being played on screen number 3, and the other is on the adjacent screen number 4. The audience is much the same. Is it not? In fact, some who could not manage a ticket for screen number 3 have walked into screen number 4. The objective is entertainment. The objective is to move into a virtual, unreal world and titillate yourself. On one screen, you have a man and a woman doing things to each other's bodies. On the other screen, you have a demon doing things to somebody's body.

In either case, it's a bloody bodily business. There is blood, and there is the body, in both the screens. And in either of the cases, you are glued to the screen, so you forget the real thing so that you can forget the fact of your life.

That's what imagination of all kinds, whether so-called positive imagination or negative imagination. Whether it is hope, worry or despair, that's the purpose they all serve. They take you away from the fact of your life. So you are busy imagining that something very inauspicious very scary can happen to you in the future.

Indirectly, you are asserting that presently you are all right. Are you all right? When you are saying, “Oh my god! What if tomorrow such a bad thing happens?” Aren't you claiming that right now, things are almost okay for you?

That's what you want to convince yourself of. That you are almost alright. You aren't.

What demon can hold you by the neck in the future? The demon is already here right now, and he doesn't need to hold your neck. He is within you, and he has gripped your heart from within. But you don't want to look at that. You want to avoid that. That's why you manufacture fancies.

Action, work, is what we need. Don't you know what you need to do right now?

Let's assume for a while that your worries about the future are founded in facts. Some grand evil army is invading your little fortress, and you can see them all coming with your binoculars. You are estimating that they will reach you in another 4 hours. Those wild hoards! They are all bloodthirsty savages. They will ravage your fortress. They will put everything to fire. They will slaughter, they loot, and you are seeing that they are about to reach you in another 4 hours.

Now, what do you do? You work. As per your imagination, if the future is really threatening to be terrible, then that's all the more incentive for you to immerse yourself in the right action right now. Or would you squat and brood? “4 hours and they are coming! Do you know what they will do? They will rape and plunder. They are coming!”

Is that what you will do? If the threat is indeed real, then work and if the threat is not real, then slap yourself and find some work. What's the point in getting trapped in circular thought?

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