In Hong Kong, we are born and raised with the mindset that winning is everything.
Parents line up their children for all sorts of extracurricular activities, hoping that they can have a head start, beating others “at the starting line”.
And winning is very often narrowly defined as having a successful career. By getting a good job and earning a high salary, you are guaranteed a happy life.
But does happiness really come with success?
According to clinical findings, many of those who are diagnosed with depression or anxiety live in constant fear of failure.
They are worried that they might fail to earn people’s recognition, secure no stable jobs, or achieve unsatisfactory results.
Life would be very stressful for those who are results-oriented. The fear of failure and uncertainty would overwhelm them.
It is not uncommon that at the start of a school year, a few schoolchildren seek consultation because they are reluctant to go to school.
Most of them are not academically unmotivated. Rather, they are perfectionists who have too high hopes and expectations for themselves.
In the case of adults, perfectionists are more prone to anxiety disorder. They cannot accept the reality that things would not always be under control. The uncertain reality makes them anxious.
In fact, anxiety is one of the crucial elements for self-protection. The feeling alerts us to danger.
However, too much of it would be disturbing, lowering our work efficiency and performance.
It works like an inverted “U”, or the law of diminishing marginal productivity. An appropriate level of stress can boost performance while a level beyond the optimal point would adversely affect work.
There is a range of psychological and physical symptoms related to anxiety disorder and they vary from person to person.
Individuals might feel insecure or restless as they have too much worry. Some would experience heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, chest discomfort, stomach upset, stressed muscles, dry mouth or excessive sweating.
If the symptoms are causing trouble in daily life or at work, he or she should consider taking further assessment to address their needs.
Many urban dwellers would agree that life is too stressful and time is too short.
When we place the focus on the process, rather than on the result, life would be astonishingly less intense. Let’s liberate ourselves from the mind cage.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 13
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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