Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Eco-Anxiety: 26 Things One Can Do Right Now

A Helpful List from Peak Oil Blues
by Sarah Anne Edwards, PhD

A line from a novel caught my attention last night. "You can't work out anxiety arising from circumstances that remain out of your control," the main character asserted. I'm sure this is what many of our clients and even we may feel at times. But it's not true. As Viktor Frankl pointed out so poignantly in his classic book Man's Search for Meaning, in which he shares what he learned from surviving life in a Nazi consentration camp, we are always able to determine the meaning we place on our circumstances and what the actions we choose to take within their limits.

In other words, we can take action despite uncertainty.

One way to describe anxiety is as psychic energy with nowhere to go. So taking action can reduce anxiety by allowing our concerns to flow into something that is meaningful with the reality of our circumstances.

In the June 18th issue of Peak Oil Blues, which she founded, Kathy McMahon, Psy.D. lists 26 Things We Can Do Right Now to Manage Your Anxiey. Each one is a practical step we can take every day. As I review the list I find I'm already taking and appreciate doing most of the things on the list, but I also notice that, as she also points out, a key to their actually reducing anxiety is to make sure the steps we choose are ones we're comfortable taking.

Dianne Stafford, a reporter for the Kansas City Star who interviewed us last week for a column called "Take Time to Take Control," told us that not a day goes by when at least one letter to editor appears expressing anger about having to stop driving their giant SUVs, recycle their trash or other steps for living "green." Clearly doing such things from a sense of guilt or social pressure risks simply transforming whatever real concerns we might otherwise feel into anger, resentment, and rebellous determination to do more of the very things that underlie the causes of our concern.

McMahon's list of provides such a wide range of options for action - from look at cash you're wasting to seek out quality - that almost everyone can find one or more they will feel comfortable with. So, take a look. I think it can be a very useful tool to helping our clients find steps they can comfortably take to shift their anxiety to action.

One I found personally appealing is "Imagine a vision for a future you’d be willing to live in. ... Go ahead. Imagine the worst. Then, visualize how you can live a satisfying life through the worst of it, and what will make it worthwhile."

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