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The age of anxiety

This header is perhaps a harsh reminder of an uncomfortable truth so maybe it’s time to take a long look at some of the influences that currently result in the way people are managing their lives.

If levels of anxiety have indeed increased in the last twenty years, then this increase obviously correlates with our increased interest and dependence upon technology.  Yes, technology is a fabulous tool.  But technology has also become an integral part of the game of life.  Apps and games can be used efficiently or negligently.  Efficiency results in assistance and related achievement leading to satisfaction and generally good feelings.  By contrast, negligence creates disappointment, frustration and anger.  Overall, on the down side of technology, comes the expectation of fast – or even immediate – results.  As technical functionality and therefore the pace of response is rapidly rising, so are expectations – and when these are not met, along comes a sense of negligence followed by disappointment, frustration and anger.

Anger is closely related to anxiety.  When things aren’t going well, this combination becomes dramatically mixed up:  in anger some will ‘explode’ out of control while others will simmer, also feeling out of control but reacting internally with anxiety, stress and depression.

And now we’re well and truly moving quickly into the Festive Season. In fact that Season, according to our major department stores, began way back in November!  Well of course for the juggernauts, that’s all about sales.  But!  How easy it can be to become trapped in the mounting pressure, to aim for the quick response, panic while seeking the perfect gifts, frustrated when results don’t instantly occur.  Confronted by more reminders from newspaper advertising, pictorial commercial breaks, glitzy decorations … people become stressed, frustrated, angry or anxious and respond according to their individuality.

Just last week I saw an otherwise gorgeous looking young woman transform into a very unattractive character, abandoning her car, stopping the traffic and wasting lots of time and energy for herself and others by verbally and physically attacking another motorist.

What was that otherwise ‘normal’ person thinking?  Of course she wasn’t rationally thinking at all.  Clearly her fixation with whatever she was dealing with at that time had brought her to a destructive point.  Reason was lost and an innocent other had to bear the responsibility of her feelings, demonstrated within her vindictive outburst – the road rage so frequently commented on today.  And so it goes.

Let’s pause a merry-brightlittle and remember that there’s really no rush.  Christmas is one day of the year.  Its message (if truly heeded) is a memorial to peace and goodwill.  The idea of gift giving is traditionally meant to demonstrate care and sharing … not overspending, not competitive appeasement, not indulgence, certainly not instant gratification.  Let’s keep it simple, keep it meaningful – and let’s aim to generate goodwill to help calm the frustrations and make the world a better place.

May your Christmas be merry and bright … and may all your Christmases be light – in every way!


Pauline McKinnon ©
Melbourne, December 2016