Dear Meg | Calming one’s self down when overthinking

November 17, 2020

…while supporting your parents may be the immediate cause of your anxieties, the overthinking is driven by deep-seated, and I would add, very legitimate, fears about the future.

Dear Meg,
 
I’m a young professional in my late 20s who’s not doing too bad with their life. However, I find myself worrying for my parents’ future from time to time.
 
They’re going to reach their 60s very soon and I am overthinking about how I can support them when that time comes.
 
I spent several years as a contractual worker in the government and I am still trying to bounce back from the financial problems caused by unemployment a few months back (I have a new job now). As you can see, I’m still trying to become financially stable myself.
 
How do I calm myself down when I start overthinking about the future again?
 
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
 
K

Dear K,
 
Thank you for your letter, and for sharing your troubles.
 
Life is hard for people our age, isn’t it? We inherited a burning planet, and in it we’re supposed to navigate adulthood amid endless poverty and hunger and strife and most recently, a pandemic without a cure.
 
I mention these because perhaps, while supporting your parents may be the immediate cause of your anxieties, the overthinking is driven by deep-seated, and I would add, very legitimate, fears about the future. I could see why you’d feel that way.
 
There are steps you can take to calm yourself down. You could get into yoga and meditation, or passions like writing or cooking or the visual arts. Hobbies are great for focusing the energy that you would otherwise spend thinking. And then you can complement these with plans to save up and learn other skills, which will open up other opportunities for you, should things take a turn for the worse.
 
I could go on, but these tips come with the caveat that it’s not possible to think our generation’s worries away. There’s only so much we could do to feel secure in a society like ours. We can work our hardest to get to the top of whatever ladder we want to climb, but most of us are just one major illness or accident away from going bankrupt. Recca Monte, a Filipina revolutionary, put it well: “Who has a stable and peaceful life, really?” Precarity is an inherent condition of our world order, and any sense of absolute stability would be an illusion. We do not chase after illusions.
 
It takes time, but it’s the best feeling when one unlearns the societal expectations that come with each stage of life. After all, every person’s journey is different, just as every generation’s experience should be understood against the unique challenges of their time.
 
The funny – and sweet – thing here is your parents probably worry about you too every single day, about how you’d fare when it’s time for them to go, and whether you’d be safe and alright. And because of this I know: they would not want this pursuit of so-called stability to keep you up at night.
 
I think most parents simply wish to see their children live a life of meaning and joy. A lot of people confuse this with the attainment of wealth and power and fame, but trust that yours will know happiness when they see it. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
May you find your way to a life of meaning and joy.
 
Meg

Meg

Meg

Meg holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Psychology from the University of the Philippines. She loves music, visual arts, literature, and psychology, and is passionate about endeavors where these are used to improve the plight of the marginalized.