There are various reasons why many individuals report struggling with anxiety. One of the main causes is that of identity. We have certainly seen this through the varied expressions of sexuality and gender. What was once either or, is now placed on a spectrum. Everything is now gray, rather than black or white. There is also the ongoing threat of Cancel Culture.

It makes it difficult to speak one’s truth, yet we are all supposed to celebrate our individuality and genuineness.

Really? At what risk? No one wants to be kicked out of the tribe. So what do we do?

We ground ourselves. We go back to the institutional teachings that gave us our footing in the first place. If we had parents we admired in some fashion, chances are they provided us with some foundation. Grandparents likely offer an even more insightful approach to us losing ourselves. You may have crossed paths with other individuals that espoused good common sense. And then there are religious communities that have provided some reliable teachings, including the Ten Commandments, the fundamental teachings of the Buddhists including love and compassion, the sacred teaching of the Indigenous Elders, and so on.

In many ways, I blame our sense of anxiety and ungroundedness on the right-wing liberalism of speaking our truth (right to free speech) and lack of all boundaries, physically, mentally, and morally. Somehow, somewhere it became okay to burn flags and deface public institutions. This permissiveness to ‘be whoever you want wherever you want’, I feel, takes us away from being part of humanity as a whole.

We all share the trait of being human. We share the world and its resources. We share a common space that we do not own. If we continue to divide into smaller and smaller tribes and become separate, how does this support the greater good of man and the world? How does this support love and compassion, to be able to turn towards others when you are in need and receive the help you need? To support one another through hard times and suffering —- because there will ultimately be suffering.

Providing our children with all these choices of who they can be may lead to even further anxiety. Indecision fatigue is a real thing and it makes us spend a lot of time in our heads, which is essentially the definition of anxiety. Kids want structure. Kids need to be guided skillfully rather than simply tell them to be themselves. What does that even mean? Personally I feel kids are craving this guidance, rather than teaching them to ‘feel their feelings’. Feeling their feelings and spending lots and lots of time feeling their feelings will not be helpful to them down the road as adults.

All this ‘greyness’ and lack of clarity and foundation makes us all become like leaves, wavering in the wind, with little direction. Rather let’s teach our children to be the oak tree who had its humble beginnings, with no way out of a hard shell, without the effort and likely some suffering. But it was through that suffering that allowed the seed to grow stronger, stable, and reliable in thought and action.