Anxiety becomes an addiction when we use it to reassure ourselves that we are doing everything we can to be safe and comfortable.  “I can only control what I can” becomes “And I’ll worry about the rest.” Anxiety is a motivator, it gets us to move in response to our thoughts of lack.  “If I don’t prepare myself, how will I ever get a good job?”  We learn skills and acquire certificates of competency and then we are acceptable.  Suddenly the arena is no longer what I do but who and how I am.  And life becomes an endless struggle.  With each accomplishment, I become more OK.  But the anxiety never diminishes.  In fact, with each hurdle jumped, it increases.  What’s next?  How can I make a bigger goal materialize?  What do I need to do to increase and prolong my success?

 After decades on this treadmill, we tire.  We may question our belief in lack. “Does life work because I push it?  How come some people receive huge rewards in their early 20s without much effort when I knock myself out and still I’m not satisfied?  I’m such a good worker but I can’t get through an invisible ceiling and I’m frustrated and ANGRY.” 

 If we believe we earn what we receive by the sweat of our brows only, we’ll cry “Unfair” when we don’t win the big prize for which we have worked diligently.  Apparently another factor is involved.  One that is subtle. One that lives inside our heads.  A scrim that our eyes look through but don’t see. We have assumptions about How Life Is and How I Am but we don’t even know what these assumptions are.  We have beliefs that severely limit our experience and we don’t know that we are the ones who choose mediocrity for ourselves.

 Common wisdom would tell us, “Only a few can be great.  Most of us are ordinary.”  But if we examine life by its rules and not our mind’s, we notice something different.  Our mind values control and hard work and discipline.  Life outside us reflects our mind’s life.  What I believe to be true in my mind will take form in the world around me.  In the Catholic Church I learned to say, “I am not worthy.”  I manifested folks who would verbalize the same for me.  That felt right.  I believed life is a struggle and there is virtue in struggling without reward.  Outer circumstances aligned to provide me with opportunities to struggle.  As long as I didn’t step back and look at the light I was shining on the situation from my thoughts, I could feel like a virtuous martyr. 

 But repetitive victim experiences tell me that I am choosing that and somehow benefitting.  I’m not struggling for God nor for the polish on my soul but simply to make true my mind’s erroneous belief that I should suffer and struggle.  In grade school the good Sisters told me (or did I misunderstand?) that life on earth was for suffering to make up for our sins so that when we die we can go to heaven without delay in purgatory.  My former classmates and I now laugh at the scary beliefs we developed from catechism class, but something seeped into the marrow of my bones and I still trip on a too easy acceptance of limitation. 

 My experience is that when I am “in the flow” doors open.  Life welcomes me when I affirm myself.  When I recognize Spirit in me and rejoice, Life applauds.  When I share myself without comment or fear or need for any response, Life receives me.  When I trust, I am given what I need. 

Not so when I struggle.  Anxious struggling offers my Controller comfort that her belief in limitation is correct because “see how I struggle and still there’s no reward?”  But when I depose the Controller, I no longer need anxiety and I can open to experience Life.  And really all it takes is being present and a willingness to be vulnerable.  Not doing.  Definitely not struggling.  Just being and breathing and waiting and noticing.  No need for anxiety in that!  Just trust and acceptance–two qualities no Controller can provide.