My resolution for 2016 is simple:
- I want to stop feeling gut-wrenchingly anxious.
I am not anxious all the time. But in the latter part of 2015 I felt sick with anxiety most days!
My aim for 2016 is to replace this feeling of dread with a feeling of positive curiosity about the future. And a sense that failure at any specific activity will not be terminal.
Predictably, I don’t expect it to be easy.
To Care or Not to Care
As suggested by a Guardian article, one answer is simply to stop caring about things.
And indeed I have done just that for a large number of worry-able activities.
But the problem is that I still care about a wide range of things: my wife, my children, my friends and family, my work – and it is often work which forms the proximate focus of my anxiety. And I also care about the wider communities of Teddington, the UK, the World, and the World of Science.
And I care about myself too. And it is balancing caring for myself with my responsibilities that is perhaps at the heart of my feelings.
I am aware that no part of my life – at work or at home – is enhanced by approaching it with a feeling of gut-wrenching anxiety.
And the task as I see it: to keep going doing pretty much the things I would do anyway, but at each moment – and with each breath – to resist the feeling of imminent ‘failure’, ‘death’, or some variety of ‘social death’.
The year ahead
At work, the first half of the 2016 looks busy. And the fact that I have said ‘Yes’ to many of these activities is testament to the fact that I have been able to face up to the demon who whispered to me that if I would just stop caring, I could just say ‘No’.
Two things which often precipitate anxiety are talks and foreign travel. The first 6 months of 2016 involves trips and talks in Canada, India, London, Poland and possibly Italy. And in between these trips and talks I need to do the work and write the scientific papers that justify the trips.
My day-to-day work is in someways like anyone else’s work, except that it typically this involves doing things I have never done before, better than anyone else has ever done them.
For example at the minute I am trying to mix two isotopes of argon gas in precisely known amounts and if I get it wrong the £12,000 worth of gas will instantly become worth approximately a penny. Or less.
At home, my wife has similar trips and challenges, and my youngest son has his A level exams. So the year ahead is filled with busy-ness in many spheres. And filled with activities whose outcomes I care about.
What I would like is to feel able to approach events at home and at work with a sense of positivity and adventure rather than negativity and dread. Please wish me luck.
In any case, every best wish to you, dear reader, in whatever struggles you face in the year to come.