Saturday, March 23, 2013

LOMP: Laugh Out of My Prison

This entry is intended for a special someone in my life who unfortunately suffers from GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but it also applies to anyone who feels an intense fear at some point or another. That means it applies to everyone-- myself included. Constant anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of, as fear is an integral part of human nature. You're not strange, if anything you're even more human than others. Humanity is a species beset by weaknesses, but the act of overcoming them is what defines our race. Throughout the annals of time, other humans like yourself have faced the fears you faced-- rational or otherwise. They evolved and adapted to combat and grow past them... and you will too.

The worst fear a man can face is a fear without a face. Why? Because it's untouchable and unable to be proven or measured. The uncertainty adds to the danger, and you're always left feeling insecure. In that same sense, the hardest prison to escape is that of our own minds. For so many people, that prison is their fate and they feel like they'll never find parole. They live stagnant lives, frozen by their apprehension. Sure there's drugs like Xanex and the like, but for most people their side-effects only make things worse. If professional therapy doesn't even work, where can you turn?

"Hopeless. Everything is hopeless. I'll never get better. Things will never change. There is no cure." 

Anxiety is a beast that creates a never-ending cycle of terror-- because you get anxiety... about anxiety.

But that cycle can and will END. Here's some good news: matters of the mind can always be conquered. If you break your back and become paralyzed for life, there's not much you can do... but with fear? You're not physically paralyzed at all! Your boat is chained down by an imaginary anchor. You know that prison cell you're in? No walls. The only thing keeping you trapped inside is... well, nothing. Good news, you're free to go. Wait... why are you still standing there? I said you could go...

I believe this is the point where most psychologists fail. For the habitually frightful, abandoning fear and embracing reality is FAR easier said than done. Therapists can't understand that the patient is literally trapped in their mind. The bars are there, it's just only they can see them... and only they can break them. How about I tell you to just go win a marathon. What? Can't do it? Yeah, same deal here... you need to work with people to absolve their fears. Find a way to conquer fear-- together. You can win a marathon, but only after training... and to beat anxiety you need to train your mind to do so. You won't be the same as others, so don't try. Focus on being the best YOU you can be.

Just like some people are born to be better or worse athletes, so too that rings true for rational thought. You're going to have to work harder than some people to live normally, but you can do it. Once you strengthen your mind, it gets easier... much easier. And you know what the best part is? After enough training, you can eventually be even BETTER than those 'normal' people!   And better for it, because you'll appreciate what it's like to not have control of your life and your fear. I'm not giving you hope... I'm giving you the truth.  You can change. You can grow. Fear isn't absolute. You can train to be mentally stronger... Your perception is off, but you CAN put it back where it needs to be. Alas, while all these encouragements I say are true-- like I said before, easier said than done.

Worry not worriers, I have devised a solution to wash away your woes-- an answer to anxiety. What is it, you ask? The opposite of tragedy...COMEDY. Now, I know that must sound cliche,(who hasn't been given the whole 'laughter is the best medicine' crap) but just listen what I have to say. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy calls for an adjustment of the way one conducts their thinking-- exchanging an irrational fear for something more reasonable. I think that method is only half-correct. Irrational thinking? Make it even MORE irrational. Take it two steps too far, and turn the fear into something so irrational and weird that you can't help but laugh and feel less daunted.


This the part where you bust out the invisible brick-wall that has been holding you back, raving like a super hero from a campy cartoon. Feeling anxious? L.O.M.P. Remember that scary picture at the start of the article? Here's a way to make it less scary... caption it with the woman shouting, "HELP, I JUST PASSED GAS IN HERE!" Not nearly as intimidating, right?


Yeah, that's right... LOMP. (Even the acronym sounds funny.) How often are you smiling while afraid? And I'm talking a genuine smile-- not a mask you put on for others. Never, right? Well, that's the idea.  Say for example, you're nervous about taking a test. Hell, screw nervous... you're terrified. Angry at it. You've given up. You've failed this test four times already, and people still expect you to pass? What a joke! Well, no it isn't... but it can be.  Tell yourself that taking a test is no big deal... it's like pooping. Yep, you heard me. Taking a test is like taking a crap. Why? Because you can always take another one! You're not afraid of pooping are you? You don't sit on the toilet and go, "Oh hell, not again! What if it doesn't come out perfect!?" Taking a test is the same way. Life is full of opportunities and additional chances for those who need them. You fail one test today, tomorrow another test awaits you. Just like problems, restrooms are around every corner. There's nothing more mysterious and dangerous than opening up a stall in a public restroom and sitting down on that germy toilet seat. But you do it. Why? Because you have to, and that's just how it is.

So yeah, you don't even really have to make it funny, just turn your fear into something stupid. I found a good video demonstrating this on YouTube. Be warned it does contain some cursing and some pretty terrible voice work. Skip two minutes in.

So this is the scariest scene of The Exorcist, known to be one of the creepiest movies of all time. Not so scary now that these nice young men have taken then liberty of making it... stupid. It's actually pretty funny, I think. No matter how scary the situation, you can always make it seem dumb and pointless. Just like comparing taking a test to taking a dump, all your anxieties can be done away with in a similar fashion.

Never too old to wear these bad boys
Let's try a more mature example than pooping. What's another common thing impeded by anxiety? Going to a crowded place like mall? You know the timeless technique of picturing people in their underwear. Well, why not take it a step further? Picture them all in underwear with something ridiculous printed on it, say Dora the Explorer... I don't know about you, but the thought of a grown man cavorting about the public square in nothing but his Dora print undies causes me to chuckle. Okay, so maybe I failed at being more mature, but my point still stands. What do you do when a child is afraid of a monster under its bed or crying over something you find insignificant?

You make it laugh by playing peekaboo or stealing away their noses.

The same logic applies to your anxiety. If you trivialize your worries and make them seem small and insignificant--perhaps even more so than they even are-- they won't bother you. You'll end up with a confident smile instead of a debilitating frown. Good spirits go a long way, but unfortunately that leads to alcoholism. Haha, I kid! Changing up your perspective is key to getting past your problems. Life is like photography, you just need to take it from the right angle. You wouldn't take a bad picture of yourself, so why would you take a bad picture of your reality? Instead of naysaying and using a gloomy filter to view life, make it cheery and grand. Turn your problems into hilarious trifles. Make yourself laugh by finding laugh triggers. Picture something you absolutely find easy or funny and relate it to something you find hard or scary.

That should be more than enough food for though for now. I'm going to be seeking more ways to cure anxiety and fear other than humor and I will post them right here on my blog, but until then put this advice into practice and see if helps. Who knows, I might have just squeezed out a nugget of wisdom. (And no, that's not another defecation metaphor) So LOMP on. Make your problems not matter... by turning them into fecal matter. (Okay, I need to cut the crap)

Until next time, friends.

- B