Last weekend my husband and myself sat down to watch A Beautiful Mind, one of my favourite films. It’s based on the life of a man called John Nash who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1994.
If you were to look up John Nash on Wikipedia, you would read about all the amazing and fascinating achievements this man has conquered during his lifetime. What brains this man had is astonishing. His mathematical theories are used in economics, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, computer science, military theory and politics today!
But that’s not what’s truly inspiring about this man, what’s truly inspiring is that he achieved everything in life, his career, his marriage, his family, all while living with paranoid schizophrenia. The film portrays what he went through so well and shows how frightening it must be to live with such a mental illness. Frightening not only for the individual themselves but also for their family and friends. Back then in the 1950’s and 60’s Insulin Shock Therapy was common for ‘treating’ such illness until it was abandoned for medication.
What really gets me in this film however are the wise words of Nash himself coming towards the end of it. If you haven’t seen it, I would really recommend you do and I don’t want to give it away. So I’ll just say that Nash overwhelms me when he is asked if his psychotic episodes are still there and he says yes they are still there but he chooses not to feed them, so they don’t bother him as much anymore.
I think we all can learn so much from this. We all have demons we live with, things that get on top of us, bring us down, upset us. But the key is not to feed our demon. They may never go away, they may never leave us, but if we are not feeding them then they become weak, hence have less and less power over us. Nash’s psychotic images were always there, following him, he acknowledged them, knew they were there, but he didn’t feed them, nourish them or allow them to grow in his mind and take over.
I wish so many times I could totally and completely get rid of anxiety for once and for all. But that’s unrealistic isn’t it? As anxiety is part of life and is human natures way of protecting us. So I could learn a lot from Nash, accept that anxiety is part of who I am, acknowledge its presence but choose not to feed it.
How? I can only assume that I accept I’m feeling anxious but not turn it into the be all and end all of that moment, that hour, that day! Don’t give into it and let it consume me. If I think about it, the times my anxiety increases are the times I do give into it, I dwell on why I’m anxious, what’s going on, where’s it coming from, why does it have to be today, now I can’t go do that thing, I feel terrible, my stomach is in bits, now my breathing is all over the place and I end up feeling nothing but sheer panic! Wouldn’t I be better saying to myself ‘ok, I feel a little anxious right now, wonder why that is, I’ll just take a few deep breaths now and then carry on with what I had planned anyway….’
Maybe by acknowledging the anxiety and moving on with my day without feeding into it and making it grow would be a better approach. I’ll try that out this week. Maybe if like me you are a bit of an anxious banana you could try it with me too!
As always I’m grateful for you reading my posts! Hope they can or have helped in some way xxx