The Anxiety of Trying to Control Time

The Anxiety of Trying to Control Time

Last update: 15 November, 2022

Having a solid concept of time and organizing our lives around it can drive away anxiety and improve quality of life. But people with anxiety make a fundamental mistake: they think that the more they worry, the closer they’ll be to solving the problem.

What are we taught about how to use time in our lives? Do we make it our friend, or do we turn it into a source of daily torment?

People who suffer from generalized anxiety think that the mere act of going over a topic over and over again is the same as addressing it, when in reality it’s quite the contrary. What they’re really doing is developing a general hyperawareness of their environment. They scrutinize it so much that they’re doing everything and nothing at the same time. It’s a small form of daily torture that makes them lose control of their mind, without knowing how to stop it.

Don’t try to control time, or it will swallow you whole

There have probably been multiple times when you’ve said that in order to organize your life, you have to organize your time. But in reality, you have to organize your activities and be productive with the time you dedicate to them, whether it’s at work or any other activity. Whether it’s useful or not will depend on how much energy and concentration you have.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.”

-Robert Herrick –

hands holding a watch

The problem lies in trying to find the right moment for everything that you do. Planning down to the smallest detail and establishing a determined time for everything can be a form of organization, but it can also put you in a state of mental imprisonment that keeps you from feeling alive and emphasize the feeling of simply wasting time.

Free your mind in the here and now

One of the most well-known and wisest sayings is “carpe diem.” These two words embody a revolution against procrastination, postponing your desires, and locking your freedom in a cage of obligations with invisible iron bars. It involves the demand of the present moment, versus a perception that has been hijacked, either by ourselves, by our mental programming, or by others.

“The future tortures us and the past imprisons us. That is why the present escapes us.”

-Gustave Flaubert-

butterflies coming out of a book

For some people, the present moment requires their full attention and expression. For others, this construct alludes to dead time inside a continuum where they’re swallowed by the past and the future. Of course, everyone has their own story and biology, and we’re not all capable of applying beneficial concepts to our own well-being, perhaps because we were previously taught to be a different way.

That’s why it’s important to be ourselves and find balance, so that our lives have little waste and a lot of substance.

Stop trying to control time and just flow with it

Many Eastern concepts and philosophical themes are quite far from the views we have in the West about how to approach and solve problems. This doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, but we can learn something from the differences between them.

Thinkers like Jiddu Krishnamurti have been questioned about their views on the human psyche. Krishnamurti’s perspective completely contrasted with Western ideas in many ways. While in Western cultures, our view of time is focused on the future and planning, other approaches say that time shouldn’t be governed on this basis.

“Therefore we desire transformation because there is pain, discomfort, conflict. Is conflict overcome by time ? If you say it will be overcome by time, you are still in conflict. You may say it will take twenty days or twenty years to get rid of conflict, to change what you are, but during that time you are still in conflict and therefore time does not bring about transformation. When we use time as a means of acquiring a quality, a virtue or a state of being, we are merely postponing or avoiding what is; and I think it is important to understand this point.”

-Jiddu Krishnamurti-

Beyond the methods that have been proven to effectively treat anxiety, we should propose a revolution in how we think about important concepts like time and individual perception.

We have to try to use our thoughts to organize ourselves better, but also to be open to possible changes and unexpected turns. We have to pay attention to our own bodies and sensations, our mental well-being, and our concentration on the present moment. Remember that investing in self-knowledge will always be worthwhile.


Images courtesy of Patricia Ariel

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.