Sometimes, in my line of work, it can feel like “sonar” work. What I mean is that there are times when I send out a “pong”, like a submarine, in search of …something…anything…that will give me assurance that there is recognition in the eyes or ears of my clients.
Understanding. Connection. The “Aha!”.
Especially in our world of rampant uncertainty. Especially now.
I live to find relatable scenarios, analogies, and metaphors that people can immediately trust. Why? Because if I can draw a comparison between a behavior that someone is experiencing – a behavior that they want to improve or make go away – and a behavior they are familiar with but that has perhaps little to do with the specific behavior in question, they can find a trustworthy path out and/or up. Hitting upon these similarities can be the key to unlocking that highly desired change.
I didn’t send a newsletter in July. I was relocating from Texas back to my heart home of New Mexico. I missed you, and even though I was quiet, I was still researching, still working for the planet, still wanting everyone to get in a better mood.
It’s a drag seeing so many people bummed out.
So, during this past 6 weeks or so, I have been in hard core observation mode, looking for patterns such as I mentioned above. Looking for recognition. Looking for understanding…for connection.
Top of the heap and, still, the longest running undesirable behavior by which I find people are plagued is anxiety.
Yes. It’s still there in large proportions for so many individuals and groups.
I’ve tried before to suggest to those who suffer from this malady – Think of what you’re experiencing as ambition, instead of anxiety. It’s a much more empowering word – AND – it’s really quite likely that much of what you perceive as bringing you anxiety is, in fact, your desire for a better life.
This, my friend, is ambition.
Imagine saying, “I feel so ambitious right now.” Or, “It seems I’m feeling ambitious most all the time.” What this does is – hopefully – compel you to ACT. DO something, instead of just sitting there feeling…well, you choose. Your body is pleading with you to expel the feeling through action. There has not been a sabertooth tiger sighting in recent history so you really must adapt. Improvise.
This may flip a switch with some. But for those who may be convinced their anxiety is more terminal, well, here’s another go.
Understand that what is going on with your body when you feel anxious is this:
Your brain is interpreting that you are in some form of trouble. It wants to protect you from this trouble so it begins a series of button pushing.
Now, if you are trying out for a sports team, auditioning for a play or movie, about to jump into an ice bath, or perhaps about to have surgery or an interview or give a presentation, this cursory button-pushing is standard procedure. You’re nervous about this thing you’re about to do and you feel all the usual feelings: clammy hands, hot and/or cold spells, nauseous, or maybe just a minuscule fraction of one or all of these symptoms.
Then, you do the thing and it’s over and the symptoms settle down in some fashion.
The dangerous realm of anxiety contains that same slew of symptoms. In fact, it’s the same place, it’s just that you spend more time in this realm. In fact, they know you by name there and, at some point, you became more accepting, dare I say more comfortable with the familiarity of this realm.
That’s not cool.
This is what soldiers experience. This is what victims of trauma experience. We can all agree this isn’t a cool place to hang your hat.
And let me be clear, this isn’t about right or wrong. It’s about this: YOU EXPERIENCE ANXIETY MOST OF THE TIME, OR YOU DON’T.
Now, as you know, I am not interested in posing as a practitioner of psychology or psychiatry. Seek them out if you need to.
I help people understand their past, reframe their present, and embrace their future. I help people feel their invincibility.
Enough with the background, let’s dig in to the new PONG ))))
The following comparison seemed to spark some recognition with clients this past week:
Anxiety is your body being “overprotective”. Right? I mean, the everyday protections are in place. Skin, eyes, ears, tongue, nose, immune system, etc. Anxiety is “overprotection”.
Now, let’s take it a step further and look to the common overprotective parent. We all know one, have seen one, or ARE one. It’s real and, whatever, it’s just real.
How does this relate?
YOU are your child. That’s right. You are the PARENT of YOU in this PONG ))) scenario.
You are overprotecting yourself when you spend too much time in the anxiety realm.
It is absolutely natural for a parent to feel nervous about a child going up the stairs of the slide for the first time. It is overprotective to never allow the child to go up the stairs of the slide.
It is absolutely natural for a parent to feel nervous about a child going to a playdate with another child – away from the parent – for the first time. It is overprotective to never allow the child to go for a playdate away from the parent.
It is absolutely natural for a parent to feel nervous about a child making an independent decision with a highly uncertain outcome. It is overprotective to never allow the child to make an independent decision with a highly uncertain outcome.
What happens when a parent keeps the child close, doesn’t allow the child to experience something new, doesn’t allow the child to make an independent decision? Doesn’t allow the child to expel the natural impulses of the body?
The child doesn’t grow. Sure, in body (although that is debatable on some level), but not in mind…not in spirit…not in health.
The keyword is “risk”.
Every single time you experience the symptoms of anxiety and you do not ACT by making a decision (I will do this or I won’t do that) and then follow it up by causing your body to move (walk, run, jumping jacks, etc.) and following through with both the decision AND the movement, you are likely to remain in the realm of anxiety, taking no risk, allowing no growth.
I’ll end here.
This observation may not be for you, but if it is, I can help.