You can leave behind all your self-soothing activities that perhaps aren’t the best use of time or resources when you remove yourself from major sources of stress, like an unsafe neighbourhood, a highly frustrating work situation, and extremely unequal relationships.
That is a somewhat unpopular opinion. Apparently, in a theoretical universe that no one has ever been to, we should be coping with everything that life throws at us and first seek the problem in ourselves.
I am of the Change What You Can Change school.
The longer you keep yourself in situations that add to your stress, anxiety and despair and that provide less than minimum comforts, the more you will seek artificial means to calm yourself down to get through the day.
Even small steps towards a better job, a more responsive and warmer circle, a less troubled area code, a less cluttered schedule and home, and a few future plans that you look forward to will affect your perspective and move you away from chronic aggravation.
Just a few months after you made an effort to lower and eliminate stress, you will notice that you are not thinking about how to calm yourself all the time. Maybe you forgot about it altogether.
Maybe you catch yourself in a place that you have not visited in a year, and although very little has changed about the setting, you observe and see a lot more than the last time – because your need to self-soothe is gone and your perception is calm.
Make it a routine to clear out the rooms you spend time in. Pick your neighbourhood and your inner circle with great care. It is better to be alone for a while than with a dangerous or disinterested crowd. Upgrade your sources of income continuously – to expand your options and security.
It is a bad idea to linger in places, around people, and in jobs that need a whole lot of change to be decent.
Perhaps those areas of life – that you give significant portions of your time to – are as important as enough sleep and rest, enough exercise, healthy food and enough water for your body. You will be able to take better care of your body’s needs too when the drama around you shrinks.
The urge to self-soothe will shrink too.
10 October 2020
Thanks to the great Curtis Mayfield for the song with the same title.