We all are neurotic to some degree, no exceptions. At least I haven’t met anyone completely free of it. Neurosis is a psychological term, but it is not reserved for crazy people in the insane asylum. Neurosis is the direct opposite to happiness and acceptance, it is the root cause of all problems. That’s why we need to give it a deeper look. My website HowToGoodLife.org is dedicated to increasing your life’s quality through practicable psychological insights. With this article we will have a look at neurosis and how it creates unnecessary suffering. The degree to which you can free yourself from neurosis will directly influence how well your life goes.
What Is Neurosis?
To really get a handle on this beast, we first have to understand it. When we understand something we can act with skill and effectiveness. I would define neurosis as the struggle against reality, against what currently is the case. It is pure resistance against the present moment. We can change the future, but the present moment happens right now and there is nothing you can do about it. If you have a back-pain right now, it is here and you have no control over it. You may do something to make it disappear in the future, but right now you are left with only two choices. Resistance or acceptance. The degree to with you resist is the degree to which you are neurotic and stressed. The degree to which you accept is the degree to which you are happy and relaxed. Neurosis is the struggle for control when you really have no control. It is a tightly clenched grip, fueled by fear and anxiety. Neurosis is the degree to which you can’t stand it, when things don’t go your way. For example, perfectionism is a common form of Neurosis. I am guilty of that myself, so don’t think I am above this stuff.
Any problem you have is basically a form of neurosis. This includes problems with yourself, your appearance, your emotions, your spouse, your sex life, your kids, your job, your career, your financial situation, your social status, your back pain, your bad-hair-day, or just the traffic in front of you. If you have a problem with the number of likes you’ve gotten on your latest Instagram post you’re especially neurotic.
I propose to you a massive shift in thinking. The neurotic person looks out in the world and sees problems everywhere. He or she criticises the hell out of life. If you are stuck in this mode of thinking, you think that the problems you perceive are real and solid in the external world. You think that the universe is flawed and that you are the poor sucker who has to deal with it. But is this really the case? Let’s go through an example.
Two people go on a date. It’s their third date, and the first two have been going really well. There is a deep connection between the two, but so far nothing physical has happened. This date also goes well. They share the same way home and at the guys house a tension builds up. Is she coming with him upstairs and spent the night or not? She doesn’t, but they kiss and wish each other good night.
So far for the setting of the story. Let’s look inside their heads. Notice, that I picked the position of girl and guy randomly. The roles could easily be reversed.
The guy goes to bed happily. He is content. He enjoyed the kiss and is eager to see the girl again. The girl, however, is not happy. She likes the guy for sure, but one of her dumb-ass friends told her, that you gotta sleep with a guy after the third date, otherwise he is going to lose interest. She liked the kiss but she is not able to enjoy what happened. Thoughts and worry are plaguing her. What if he loses his interest? What if he thinks I am boring or too stiff? Goddamn, I should’ ve gone upstairs with him! And on and on it goes. These thoughts are annihilating any happiness she felt before.
Objectively speaking, what happened is nice for both of them. But only one of them could enjoy it. Why is that? Because the girl thinks that what happened should’ve been different. Notice the key word here, she thinks. There is no real problem, she just thinks there is. Her thinking creates the problem. Without this thinking the world is very much okay. The cause of our problems is not the external world. The cause of our problem is our interpretation lens through which we see this world. This gets obvious, when we keep solving problems but somehow the number of issues stays the same. This is when we need to realize, that the cause of problems lies within us, not out in the world.
How To Solve Neurosis:
It is simple. Question the living hell out of your problem. In our normal mode of thinking we focus on the solution of our problem – at best. Instead of focussing on the solution, I want you to focus on the problem and to examine it really closely. If your mind is like mine, it sees problems everywhere. Question those and be honest.
- What is the exact situation?
- Why am I perceiving it as a problem?
- Are there other ways to look at the current situation?
- What would my best friend think about the situation?
- How does this problem make me feel?
- Can I let this problem go for a minute?
- What would happen if I let this problem go for a minute?
Usually we buy into all the problems we are presented with. Let’s stop doing that. 95% of them are utter hogwash and do nothing, but bittering our day. This needs to be made conscious, otherwise we continue to sap our days of happiness.
When Does This Work:
This approach works with most problem you face. This is the tool to increase your happiness levels profoundly. Don’t overburden yourself though. Remember the importance of patience, you won’t be able to dissolve every problem just now. See it as a technique that you need to practice until you get good at ti. Reasonable expectations are key as we talked about in The No. 1 Cause of Failure. It will at least take a couple of years to fully understand this method in its significance and scope. That’s okay. Start small. What is bothering you right now? Someone was rude with you at work? Your crush hasn’t texted back for a few days? Someone forgot your birthday? Great, start to practice.
To really get good at this I recommend starting a meditation practice. This will give you the required focus and an inner awareness. The more you meditate, the more will you be okay with the present moment. And with time your neurosis will melt away. If you’re new to meditation read my comprehensive guide on meditation. It will give you everything you need to start right away.
Also, I want you to make it a daily habit to question your behavior and thinking pattern in a constructive way. With such small changes you can transform your life within a few years. If you are interested in getting the most joy out of life, head over to my website HowToGoodLife.org. You will find more practicable insights like this one. I am expanding the site at least every week so stay tuned for more.
As always thanks for reading. If you liked this post leave me a like and hit that follow button. With what problems are you struggeling right now? Is this article helpful to you in your situation? Let me know in the comments!