Imagine your mind is a foreign sports car. Something nice, something yellow—the color of industrial custard. This car has a stick shift, because it was made in Germany. The higher the gear to which you take this precision automobile, the greater the stress you feel. Let’s shift down.
I want you to imagine taking hold of that gear stick. Inhale, deeply. Hold your breath as I count to three… 1… 2… 3… now slowly exhale. You feel wonderful. Relaxed. You’re traveling more slowly. But, maybe a little too slowly? You’re in Germany, remember, driving on a concrete mountain highway with no posted speed limits. Whoa! An Italian-made Ferrari Testarossa just cut you off, forcing you from your lane! You jackknife toward a low railing, reach for the speed brake, but it’s too late! You crunch through the guardrail, metal shrieking at metal, and accelerate to the speed of gravity, the earth accelerating just as swiftly upward, faster than you or the Earth has ever driven. At impact, you feel no sense of peace, just an all-consuming, limitless terror.
Also, your anxiety is gone.
Picture yourself in the company boardroom.
Every senior partner is in attendance, and the speech accompanying your iWorks Keynote presentation is well-rehearsed. Even your mom said: “That wasn’t as boring as I’d expected,” when you read it to her over Skype last night.
This was the first time she’s ever paid you a compliment. Probably because, overall, you’ve been a disappointment. Maybe if you spent a little more time developing the personal connections that trump skill sets in the workplace and a little less time whining about sleeplessness and CNN’s role in your sleeplessness, you’d have a seat at that board table and she’d have more nice things to say about you.
You’re walking alone in a forest towards a lake on a path made of lavender and mint and hyacinths. You eat some of the mint—it’s sooo minty. Your mouth feels like a television advertisement for Scope.
The sun is shining through the treetops, dappling your face with leaf-shaped shadows. You arrive at the water’s edge. Tiny waves shush at your feet. All is tranquil. Jubilant birdsong in the distance goes still as a seven-foot scarecrow with bloody chainsaws for arms breaks through the water’s surface and launches toward you. You should have brought a pump-action shotgun or a friend to push into the path of the onrushing chainsaw scarecrow or something. Because now he’s torturing you really slowly, and being kind of a dick about it. The worst!!!
You are at home, and you take one of those pills I gave you.
Imagine you’re on a luxurious, white sand beach in the Caribbean with your girlfriend, and she brings up marriage.
Sure, money’s tight. But money will always be tight; wants accelerate to the limit of means. So why not just propose already? What are the alternatives? Endless, soul-sucking bachelordom? Dying alone without experiencing the miracle of parenthood? Hooking up with a series of random girls, girls who are better men’s daughters, nice girls who want to meet a guy as nice as you, and you’re just going to keep those nice girls from meeting one of those nice-as-you guys a little while longer while their looks fade and their hopes harden and their younger sisters get married before them, wearing the dress they always dreamed of for themselves?
You’re a jerk. A selfish, thoughtless jerk. Anxiety is not your number one issue.
You’re asleep, and you have no way of knowing if I did hypnosis therapy on you today. Maybe I just spent the entire session reading an Archie Comics Double Digest. Or maybe I quietly slipped from the room to make out with my receptionist in the unisex bathroom for fifteen minutes. You’ll never know.
You are writing me a check for my services. Wait. You’ve mistakenly written a “7” where there should be an “8”. You remember, all of a sudden, that I told you last week about my rate increase. You write me a new check. It is in the correct amount.
You feel no anxiety whatsoever about me taking too long to cash this check (thereby throwing off your bank balance unexpectedly in three months or so) because I am a responsible investor who understands how to maximize savings through compound interest.
You are welcome.