It must happen when you get older…. perhaps…. it is the only explanation I have. There was a time when I took life in my stride. Any changes, big or small, were never a concern. A few butterflies before an interview or a calming chat to myself two minutes before I sat my first driving test: this was the extent of my nerves. What I know for certain is that I never lost any sleep over life’s small challenges.
But now I am 40. Yes, still relatively young but bordering on old. At the tender age of 20, I remember my mum announcing her momentous forty year landmark. I recall thinking that it would take me a life time to reach four decades of living – an age that was so far in to the future that it almost seemed like an impossibility.
Yet here I am. Closer to 41 than 40. And yes, age is just a number, it’s how you feel on the inside that matters, you’re as old as you feel and so on. There are many phrases that tell us that growing old is a positive thing – and in many ways it is. Without a doubt, I am the most confident I have ever been in terms of my identity and my ability to defend my beliefs. The insecurities of adolescence are a thing of the past as I stand firm when it comes to how I present myself to the world both on the outside and regarding my interaction with others. I am able to defend my viewpoints with vigour, not allowing others to sway my opinion unless the decision is mine. From this perspective, the age of 40 is the perfect age!
But everything in life has an opposite, and in terms of growing older, some of us lose that laid back, laissez faire attitude that enabled us to live a stress free life. It seems that as one gets older, the small challenges in life find a way of entering in to our brains, and instead of making a quick exit, they put their feet up and make themselves at home! Only when the challenge is completed does the exit sign light up, and even then we may waste our time mulling over the ‘ifs, whats and maybes’.
‘Sometimes age succeeds, sometimes it fails. It depends on you’ ~Ravensara Noite
A presentation at work, driving to a new destination, meeting someone for the first time, awaiting a medical report that is almost guaranteed to be clear – these are all things that can make our stress levels sky high, however hard we try and deny it to ourselves. We allow different scenarios of possible outcomes overtake our brains, so much so that it becomes difficult to sleep. I have no doubt whatsoever that in my younger years, such self obsessed and succinctly damaging behaviour was never a part of my psyche.
And if we reach that point where these behaviours are affecting our health, we need to look towards something other than ourselves for the solution. The doctors can prescribe drugs to help decrease the anxiety, but relying on medicine is not a real solution. Empowering ourselves by putting our complete trust in God is the way forward. Instead of spending hours worrying about what might be, we should leave such thoughts behind, trusting that our faith in The One whose Hand is in all affairs, will help us to achieve the most affective end result.
Verily Allah does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves” (Quran 13: 11).
When we feel those levels of anxiety increasing, we should absorb ourselves in meditation. Make a connection with God, talk to Him and ask Him for help and guidance. Believe from deep within that He hears you and as you walk away, leave the anxiety behind. This is the reason God gives us the challenges in the first place – to call us towards Him, to rely on Him only, to love Him. If whilst supplicating, we have doubts about His presence, our prayers are futile. Focus, believe and leave your troubles in His Hands.
“When you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah” (Quran 3: 159).
(please feel free to express your views in the comments box)