This is quite hard for me, as I’m not the kind of person who seeks for help unless in great need. This website has been part of me for the last year; it took me in and helped me when I first started questioning life, and now I come here to ask for guidance, which is both trying something new and unexpected for me and well… asking for help.
I’m 19 years old, former exchange student, and currently living with my parents as I’m waiting to start studying in a university (majoring in biology), and my current struggle right now is my own mind.
I fight too much with my own thoughts, over anything you can imagine. The list is big. I basically gave a name to every aspect of life, so I could worry about it. Fear of death, fear of losing the ones I love, fear of living a miserable life, fear of being judged, fear of living a ”wrong life”, fear of fear itself. Fear, fear, fear. I’ve said that word in my mind countless times. It became a habit to analyze myself, notice these patterns, and try to find a way out of it, but it feels like going in circles, as I end up failing and becoming a slave of my thoughts. Sometimes it all hits me like a train and I crash into depression for a day or two, then life loses meaning, every action becomes a burden full of ‘this is wrong’ or ‘I shouldn’t be doing this’, food becomes ‘think of the hungry children’ or ‘this is gonna give you cancer’, water becomes ‘think of the draught’, empathy ceases, and the sense of separateness and loneliness grows stronger.
To make it worse: I’ve accumulated so much information about ‘self-help’ and ‘self-improvement’ that I’m constantly stuck not knowing what to do when it all comes down to worrying (or fearing) endlessly. HighExistence was one of the biggest sources of information (and help), and sometimes when I’m trying to ‘stop worrying’, I try to remember all the articles and discussions I’ve read here about that and it creates so much conflict with all the different points of view on it. Sometimes I even picture the profile photos of some members fighting each other (lol). And it’s not just on the subject of worry, but also on ‘how to live’; I’m constantly having conflicting thoughts about how should I live my life, and all the information I gathered confuses me, and I lack the faith to live on my own terms (also a result of too much information). An example is, right now I want to solve my problems, and what comes to my mind is: ”I should face my fears”, ”I should take some time to calm down and then think this over” ”No, you’re running away from it”, and that clouds my mind even more. I don’t even know what facing things or running away looks like anymore. I don’t know if I should ignore thoughts, be aware of them, tell them to fuck off or what. Every possibility has a ‘what if’: what if they come back, what if they become true, what if they get worse, and so on.
I’m sorry if at this point you got shit of what I’m saying, I’m trying to get better at expressing myself.
Getting to the end of this, I’m not after some ‘master key’ to success, or an answer to all my problems (that’d be cool though). I’m also not saying that my mind is some sort of alien form, and my thoughts anything more than… thoughts. I know (at least I think I know) that this is just bad habits. I just want some guidance in changing these habits to better ones, thus living a happy life. I appreciate any insight.
If you got this far, cheers.
Much love and respect.
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I think we’ve all been there to a degree, or at least I have been. The best solution I have is get out and experience life, meaning do not sit and think all day instead commune with friends, talk with your parents, talk to your grandparents, play games, or the very best go volunteer and help others. Lose yourself to these other activities and your mind will relax. We can contemplate our thoughts to no end and chase them in circles however we can place rationale to them through the reflections of life. There is plenty more to say on the subject and I imagine other users can provide you with greater insight than I have. Just know that others including myself have experienced the same confusions and as you grow so will your ability to comprehend.
Yea I keep my sanity by obsessively playing games 1-3 times a week. I play magic the gathering because there are always people playing at a store near you. It helps develop friends, its nearly mentally exhausting, and its a blast. Life isnt so serious. From my extremely limited knowledge of the Hindu religion, much of their beliefs about life revolve around understanding that life is just a big drama, a big play, in some sense- a big joke. Its not real. All your thoughts are mirages, so dont become too attached to how they make you feel. In times of stress I remind myself: its all a joke, all this means nothing. Its surprisingly relaxing and assuring. You dont have to save the world, you dont have to save yourself. Your fine just the way you are. So go play some games :-P
Wow, you are in a common and growing percentile of people… You are suffering from ANXIETY…
don’t worry (no pun intended), it’s quite common lung older teens, especially the more intelligent ones.
In the simplest of terms; DEPRESSION arises from dwelling upon ones PAST, and ANXIETY comes from dwelling upon ones FUTURE.
I know, not the silver bullet you seek, but clinical anxiety can be treated (all too often, nowadays) with meds…meditation is a more holistic and self motivated remedy… But like yourself, I once worried endlessly about all aspects of my life and place in the universe..I dare say, you could very well have close relatives that fuel your angst..
Age will eventually calm your restless soul..I myself was totally liberated from my anxiety when my dear (but doting) parents passed…Albeit this is an extreme solution…lol.
Try focusing upon YOUR happiness. What will be your happy place in life? You cannot go out into the world to help others until you yourself are helped.
Selfish? Maybe, but you are currently a problem, not a solution. Hence, help yourself to enjoy life a bit..It’s OK…Laugh, or dance like a fool, drink or smoke weed (if that’s an option to a little piece of mind)…get away from your routine, travel…get a cat, whatever…JUST FOCUS ON WHAT’S OUTSIDE OF YOU IN A ROTALLY DIFFERENT WAY THAN YOU NORMALLY DO.
If you’re ever in Phoenix AZ, message me, the first beer is on meme! EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE FINE…TRUST IN THE OLD ROACH.
Coming from a 20 year old going through sort of the same thing, I just lived in Florida away from everything I have ever known for 6 months and now I returned home to Pennsylvania to attend college in the fall. I know exactly how you feel. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE. Remember that, if sometime you feel insane, just remember that it is normal. I would say that I always have had a slight depression/anxiety in my life over the past several years and I have to actively tell myself that everything is okay that it’s going to be alright. I like to just say things to myself like “Damn you’re awesome” when ever I start to feel anxious. Just a few weeks ago I couldn’t sleep for several nights straight because I was too worried about everything and I felt like a piece of shit. Get out of that mood. Wake up and do not eat any bad foods for you. I can tell some days when I like shit that it effects my mood believe it or not. Listen to your favorite songs right after waking up, sing to them. Voice yourself and know that it is okay to do so. Really get in the music, really get in to anything, play a video game, ride your bike, skateboard, go for a hike. I’ve done all of these by myself and it’s okay to do so. It even better with someone but that is okay. This is my first reply on this site and the first thing I’ve written in over a year so sorry about it being all over the place but just know you’re not alone. My last piece of advice is to pick up a book and read it for fun. That’s one of my favorite things to now.
The lungs breathe, the heart beats and the brain thinks, it’s just what it does. The important thing to remember is; YOU are not your thoughts and not everything you think is true. These thoughts cannot exist in the now, so they pull from the only places they can find substance; the past (pain) and the future (anxiety) . I find much peace in letting my thoughts be, yet understanding that the vast majority of them are no more significant than a bad dream, just a function of the mind. The thoughts themselves mean no harm, the danger is in letting your energy follow their lead. Focus on the heart where true intention into action is found. Breath is your shield from a brain gone rogue.
Kudos for taking the step and reaching out, that alone is action and overcoming a basic fear of judgement, so well done! ;-)
I completely understand what you’re going through, I’m actually coming out of the exactly same process – and I think that’s how you should look at it, as a process.. You say it’s been about 1 year since you “started questioning life” and what I think you’re going through is your mind recoiling from this probable information-overload that comes with realizing the vast spectrum of possible interpretation of this experience and all that it entails. And yes a part of that will also be emotional struggle as well as your mind bouncing off the walls.. I’ll suggest you find peace in the fact that as with all struggle this too will pass. When that’s said I think you also need to put into effect the powerful tool that you have, your conscious thought, some say just let the thoughts roam free and try not to pay attention, I found that the “STOP”-technique works well for me (when your thoughts starts running down a not-constructive pattern, think of a loud voice shouting “STOP” – which for me interrupts the flow, then focus on your breath, feel the air go in and out for just a couple of deep breaths and think something in the line with “I will enjoy this experience right now”/”I will be present”/whatever you feel will work for you) – different things works for different people, experiment with it, but bottomline I think you should focus on what makes you feel happy, not what you think is “right” to do, try to follow and trust your gut feeling, there is no authority over you in your experience (Was it Steve Jobs? : Remember, this thing called life is made up by people no smarter than you ;-))
Good luck and stay positive :-)
Just came out the same struggle a couple of months a go, so just some pointers to get back to enjoying life and stop worrying and fearing ;)
– Don’t fight your thoughts, they’re just thoughts and you can be aware of them :) When anxiety was on it worst i even got suicidal thoughts and then fighting them making it worse in the process. When i started saying to myself… i feel depressed and thats ok or i am feeling anxiety and that’s ok thats when these feelings had space to express and then leave :)
– When you feel fear or anxiety your sympathetic nervous system gets activated, this causes your body and mind to into fight or flight all the time so you even get upset from any random thoughts like.. is my life going in the right direction or whatever. This is why some people are in anxiety and depression for years because their sympathetic nervous systems never gets shut down. For me exercise, spending time in nature and relaxing reading spriritual books really helped to helped to activate the para sympathetic nervous system which does the opposite and relaxes your mind and body :) For me it takes 1 or 2 months to calm down again when my mind goes crazy, so patient my friend;)
– Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a depression or anxiety period it’s better not to check out to have stuff about the mind, for example i started reading stuff about free will when i was depressed and it made it worse because i was freaking out that i was stuck bla bla ;) instead focus om some cool stuff like creating, fun, play etc… where you dont engage the logical part of your brain all the time and just do some pointless stuf :)
Hope it helps, and trust me even when you think you fucked your brain up or something… just give it time and you’ll be fine :)
You sound like a normal 19 yr old to me. It’s difficult because on one hand you’re expected to act like an adult. on the other hand you haven’t lived long enough or gone through enough (I’m guessing here) to be able to sort out what is real, good, bad, worth it.
One thing I learned from meditation is to acknowledge these thoughts and then send them off into the universe. Don’t dwell on any of them. You know some of them are irrational, but treat them as good for a laugh. Don’t let them distress you so much. Try to live in the moment and try to not project into the future or wallow in the past, neither is relevant right now. If you get high, don’t do it as much. If you don’t exercise start, taking a nice walk is a good way to start. Movement will eliminate a lot of stress hormones that course thru your body when you’re driving yourself nuts.
Yeah. all of this stuff is easy for me to say but having gone thru it all and gotten older is great. It really, really does get easier to think and be clear about stuff. But ya have to put forth the effort to change the way you think. You have to choose to change it. You have to choose to be happy. And even if you can’t right now, barring any physical or mental dysfunction, it will come over time.
Oh yeah, stop reading all this shit on the internet. It’s misleading. People find it easy to argue on here because it’s mostly anonymus, but in real life it isn’t that way. We wouldn’t have gotten so far as a society if we argued constantly and didn’t care for each other.
Keep your spirit up!!!
Have had similar struggles as have many others. I can relate to a lot of what you are saying. I still deal with anxiety or excessive worry, overthinking, or whatever you want to call it…on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel like my mind is a battleground. I have learned to tame it somewhat over time. Exercise and meditation have helped tremendously for me. I think for each person it takes the right combination of things to find out what works best for each individual. Nothing will take the anxiety away completely…but many things can help to keep it at bay.
One suggestion, it sounds like you are really trying to battle and fight hard against the anxiety. Kudos for trying, but from personal experience, sometimes the harder we fight or resist ‘what is’ the worse it becomes. Try adding to your existing meditation practice, a mantra or thought of acceptance of your anxiety/thoughts. Acceptance of your anxiety, thoughts, fears, imperfections, etc. The sooner you learn to accept these thought patterns, the quicker they will dissipate. This may take some time (it did for me) and requires daily practice. But I have found my thoughts are much easier to deal with now.
I may suggest a couple of books that were helpful to me as well. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is wonderful. It teaches us how to focus solely on the present moment, the only moment their truly ever is. Mindfulness, by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, gives a nice walk through of the art of practicing mindfulness in our daily lives. Similar concept to Eckhart Tolle but presented in a much different manner. If you want something more from the psychiatry realm, Feeling Good- The New Mood Therapy, by Dr David Burns, offers a detailed and practical approach to understanding and dealing with abnormal thinking patterns or cognitive dysfunction. It was the principle book that detailed cognitive behavioral therapy and helped ignite that particular branch of therapy. It’s focus is on recognizing the distortions in our thinking patterns, learning why our thoughts become distorted, and on simple and effective ways to combat them.
Best of luck to you. Please realize you are not alone, and please never give up hope. Things can and will get better.
It is not your mind. Try to realize that the fears are just a product of conditioning. Watch thoughts and be aware of them as they arise, but try not to identify with them or claim them as your own. The birth of freedom is NOW. Take a breath and be aware of it; plant yourself firm in the moment and feel the aliveness of the breath. There is no “I” breathing, just breathing. There is no past or future, only this moment. The key is not trying to resist this moment because it can’t be any different than it is. Now, who needs to be improved? Really try and find the “I” that needs to be improved. Try meditating 10-15 minutes a day. It will help bring peace of mind and clarity.
Solution: Stop overthinking and just take the first step towards what you want to achieve regardless how uncertain the future seems as take steps to achieve the goal.
The other one is that you are keeping to many things to yourself and putting unnecessary stress or expectations on yourself. Let it out and empathize with others about your concerns and should ease your suffering, and potentially find a way to reach your objectives
I am writing because I can immensely empathize with you. I have been on HighExistence for years and this is my first response to any post, which I check daily. The vast majority of the posts to your letter have been suggestions on what books to read or solutions others have implemented in their life to attempt to reach some point of desired or acceptable stasis. My guess is that you are not only smart, but also immensely resourceful and have already seen all of these suggestions or techniques – they were just probably packaged in different prose. I have no suggestions for you because everything I might add you have probably already read somewhere, neither do I have any techniques of practices to share. Everything that the previous responders have shared are excellent suggestions and from the look of your responses you are vastly more devoted to daily meditation than I am. I have no answers, no solutions. Just a few questions, because I know you will ponder them as I would. When you were 8 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? What are some tangible problems that you see in this world, whether they been in your backyard or across seas that you would like to help solve or be apart of (no existential nonsense here, get objective)? Do you drink water?
I’d recommend you start meditating actually. I am sure that If you do this consistently you’ll notice a positive change. Headspace.com has a very nice 10-day intro for free, that’s a start at least. :)
Hope you get better soon!
Hello. I think that you are already doing everything right as you are already exercising and doing meditation. The only thing I can tell you to improve is to stop having too many expectations of yourself and to love yourself just the way you are. This is what I did and it has literally changed my life upside down. :) (Also, the mind is very strong and fights back whenever you try to still it effectively. I notice that when I have really good days of meditation, my mind punches me back really hard. But it is during these times that one has to put the greatest effort in meditating because such experiences are usually the turning points of meditation. )
I have a some anxiety and panic issues as well. One thing that has helped me tremendously is the book The Book: on the Taboo against knowing who you really are. by Alan Watts.
The main thing that has helped me through my issues is knowing that i can change for the better. For some reason I used to be convinced that we are just stuck how we are but you can always change. The brain has plasticity. DONT EVER GET MAD AT YOURSELF FOR HAVING ANXIOUS THOUGHTS! Believe me it doesn’t help, it just causes more anxiety. When you have the thoughts, acknowledge them but don’t give them power. Let the feeling pass without fighting it with more anxiety. say to yourself “Its okay that I feel this way but that doesn’t mean my anxiety is right or useful.”
lastly, make sure you are exercising, sleeping enough, and eating enough/ eating good food. Body affects the mind so much.
From what I’ve found, one of the most exciting aspects of life is that we have choices. You have the choice to ask yourself “how should I live my life?”and be overwhelmed by the lack of answer or be excited about the possibilities. The questions your asking show that you care about your personal well-being and the well-being of others. Look, if your focusing too much thinking on yourself all the time then try investing your skills, time and influence on other people. If the drought is bugging you then take a shorter shower and inform the people around you about ways they can help out too. Volunteer, find a mentor, donate the things around you that you don’t need.
The fact that you took the time to ask for help makes you an intelligent person who is willing to listen to the advice of others. I’m 27 and feel like I have some advice for a 19 year old. Your 19 and I’m sure have plenty of advice to help a 15 year old. Offer a helping hand to others and I guarantee you will find a unique form of fulfillment and the difficult questions your asking either won’t matter as much or they will have a completely different meaning.
On a side note, I appreciate the way you signed off. Showing love and respect to the people you interact with is the absolute most rewarding way to live your life. Keep your head up and feel free to reach out if you want to chat more. Adam
Watch I Heart Huckleberries. Basically, a guy is going through an existential crisis. He goes to these people who have their own method (philosophy) of helping someone. He buys into it for a bit and then finds it to be bullshit. Then he bumps into another person who espouses an opposing philosophy. He buys into that one for a bit and eventually finds it to be also be bullshit. In the end, he says fuck you to both philosophies and essentially creates his own. My advice to you – stop reading books/taking in more information. Go experience the world for a few years. This is what worked for me. For about 2-3 years I read a shit ton of books and ultimately, it just confused me. I took a 2 year break and let everything integrate and only recently have I picked up books again. This time around, I have a creative outlet to help with easier integration