“Hello anxiety, it’s been a while”… “Wow! you’ve grown so much more powerful since I last saw you”... “Hold on one moment, I am struggling to breathe, actually I feel a bit paralysed, I need to sit down.” “Are you a superpower strength anxiety?” “ I don’t’ remember you being this big and strong before” “I wonder if that’s because you were with me all the time, a while back, a long, long time ago…..Yes, almost every second of the day I used to swallow you down in big gulps” “This is so uncomfortable it’s almost unbearable, I want to scream out in terror or run for the hills. I cannot move or breathe, I feel like I am being strangled, oh please let this be over, what can I do to make you go away?? “ This was how a conversation with anxiety went recently.
What do I know about anxiety now? I can’t make you go away! In the work I do, as a Coach, I know that emotions are energy in motion and in order for this to become a new source of creativity, to become useful to us, we need to sit with it, to be with it. Of course, I forgot that when anxiety came back into my life and floored me! It took a wise man to remind me of this (thankyou wise man!)
1. You’ve got to sit with it As uncomfortable as it is, you need to learn to be with it, sit still for a while, breathe – a lot of deep breaths, and notice the shifts and turns it take.
2. Who or what pulled the trigger? A wise man (the same one as before!) asked me to think about what the triggers were for the onslaught of anxiety. And then to think of myself as two selves,
the triggered self
the adult, grown up self
And then to create a dialogue; What does this triggered-self want or need from the adult grown up self?What wisdom can the adult-self share with the triggered-self? For me, I have an ongoing challenge with a temperamental thyroid and I am in a phase in my life where I’m excited about opportunities and possibilities in the work I do, I have hope and optimism about the value my work can bring…. I am taking risks, which of course requires courage. Is it the physical that affects the emotional or vice versa? I think the two are inextricably linked and you need to tune into both, your emotional and physical self, and give them the care you need to have balance.
Inside out I recently watched the brilliant children’s film Inside Out, in which the range of emotions in a young girl’s mind play out as she grows and faces new challenges. Joy tries all she can to keep Sadness away from everything, and to keep Fear, Disgust and Anger in check. The moral of the story, in this film, is that sadness is needed, and must be included to enhance experiences. As good old anxiety or fear took control, of my emotional control centre, of course it was trying to protect me from imminent disaster, to keep me small. When we listen to what its telling us, it helps us to make sense of the emotion, the manifestation of it, and what we need.
What have I learned about what helps me?
1) Building my physical strength
Being outside and running is the best stress reliever I know! A 30-minute run can help me sort out a problem in my head, when I find my pace I feel like I am invisible and at one with the elements! I have also found Pilates is an excellent way to build my core strength I walk a fine line with this, my immune system can get easily out of kilter if I don’t look out after myself and when I get run down I can’t exercise, if I can’t exercise I get twitchy and frustrated! But, sometimes I need to be kind to myself and take it easy. And in this case, that was definitely something my triggered-self needed!
2) Picking up the pen….. Drawing and writing help me make sense of a lot of stuff! I often find that drawing, and sometimes writing, with my non-dominant hand brings up interesting thoughts and answers (and unusual images!) I was introduced to this technique after a friend recommended Recovery Of Your Inner Child, by Lucia Capacchione, I used some of the techniques at an especially challenging time in my life, and it helped me to get clear on my identity, dreams and values. I find it just as useful now, and need to get more disciplined at creating space every week for it. Field Notes are my every day friends! Capturing thoughts, ideas, troubles or problems and of course solutions.
So, Anxiety, when we next meet.. I know I can’t get rid of you! I need to sit with you a while and listen to what you’re telling me, see it from a “triggered” perspective and from a “grown up” perspective and make choices about what I need, and take new information….. until next time!