“Mining For Issues”: A Common Cause of Anxiety & Stress

The other day, I heard somebody use the expression “mining for issues”.

The context was looking for trouble. Or looking for things to be anxious about, without realizing that’s what’s happening.

The most self-responsible and reasonable of us are often programmed to be this way. We’re programmed to solve problems. Or to anticipate, prevent or resolve a crisis.

These are good goals. Being focused, aware and self-responsible are necessary components of maturity, psychological coping and even survival.

But not every moment of life is a crisis. And the whole point of rationality and self-responsibility is the resulting ability to live a happy life filled with serenity, and free of difficulty to the greatest degree possible.

Life on earth today is full of problems, but it’s also more stress-free and tolerable than ever before. The poorest of today live better lives than the richest a century or two ago. Technology and the hated system of (hampered) capitalism have brought it all to us, even though most of us don’t realize it.

The basic point is that much of life does not have to be about crisis. The worst does not usually happen. Even when it does, if you’re still alive, then your resources, your reasoning and your “wits” can be more than enough to save you. Not to mention the support and intelligence of those around you, including those you’ve never met who have created things that can save your life.

Mining for issues makes no sense. Yet subconsciously that’s what many of us do. It’s important to send a standing order to your subconscious, one that will coexist with the one that should already be there that says, “Prevent problems. Be ready to spring into action when needed.” The coexisting standing order ought to say, “Enjoy the moment. Live in the moment. Be prepared, but also savor it all.”

Standing orders don’t work on the first try. They have to be sent over and over again. That’s what introspection (and psychotherapy, at times) are all about.

People use the word “balance”. I prefer to call it integration. Integration means having more than one gear shift for the engine of your mind. Be prepared to coast and drive, as well as to swerve or brake to avoid danger. It’s all important.

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