How to Stop Anxiety and Create a Better Outcome for Yourself
What is it you don't want to happen?
Are you anxious about being furloughed from your job? Or worried about not being able to find your next job?
If you're an employer, maybe you're worried about about keeping your company from going under? Or having to let go of staff, when you've done your best to keep them on?
Given the current circumstances we're living with, there's a lot of uncertainty around finances, employment, not to mention our health - so it's hardly surprising that we experience anxiety.
My own experience of anxiety is related to my coaching business , which I'm growing after having left the IT contracting industry behind . Anxiety about 'what if I can't get more clients, what if people don't read my posts, what if I can't make a living?
Anyone who says they don't EVER have anxiety or doubts - I don't believe you!
We have an in-built protection mechanism from the times when our ancestors lived in caves and hunted with spears - our survival instinct reminds us to look out for danger. It triggered the right chemicals in us to make us more alert to the danger and take action and survive.
This served us well in that existence and it can serve us well now, as long as we treat it in the right way! Lingering on the anxiety certainly doesn't help me! Does it help you?
What I've noticed when I have anxiety is that my energy is focused on ME: Me, Me, Me. Poor old Me ?
At this point, I am reminded of a fantastic video with Bob Newhart, taken from one of his TV shows - called "Stop it!" - which as well as being really funny, is so on point in accuracy, but definitely applies the "Tough Love" principle.
It's really worth saving and playing back whenever you have one of those anxious moments to lighten things up 🙂 .
OK, so Bob Newhart's very direct approach to solving the Anxiety problem may be a bit too direct for most of us, but actually it serves as a great reminder that the Anxiety is just in our Thinking, and once we know that, we can acknowledge our thought, learn from it and choose another thought to think.
Let's break that down a bit....
4 Steps to Stop It!
So what can we learn from what our Survival Instinct was trying to tell us?
1) Firstly, to pay ATTENTION.
Yep, we do that quite well. We NOTICE the situation. Actually we DWELL on this bit too much. Paying a TENSION! That's what we tend to do.
The chemical (adrenaline) triggered in our body by the oldest part of our brain (the Reptilian part) was meant to trigger us to:
In survival mode, the 3 natural re-Actions are Fight, Flight and Freeze.
Unfortunately, when we dwell in Anxiety, we're FREEZING and getting Stuck in our 'Poor Me' thoughts.
I notice in me that this type of thought is usually accompanied by stillness, sunken posture, sometimes tightness on my neck and shoulders and shallow breathing - and then the dark clouds of anxiety roll in....
- Is this the same for you?
Rather than being stuck in this condition, we need to physically MOVE our body: stand up, change posture to be more upright and STRETCH, we can BREATHE, bringing in fresh air, Oxygen and raising our ENERGY level, to be alert and ready.
So with more oxygen, more energy in your body, can you begin to notice those dark clouds moving away, feel the sky brighten, imagine the sun shining?
Now we can start to focus on:
Earlier on, I mentioned that the Survival Instinct triggered us to pay attention - and we did: we NOTICED and then from 2) we MOVED.
Applying FIGHT or FLIGHT in Captain Caveman style is not usually necessary these days. So you might not be able to find a Sabretooth Tiger to wrestle or run away from, but why pick on yourself instead?
Alternatively, we can use the new energy to start THINKING in a more useful way.
At the extremes, there are two OUTCOMES, although so far our only focus has been on avoiding one of them!
a) WORST CASE: the Outcome you don't want happens.
If this happens, I feel for you, and wish you well and the strength to get through.
Given it hasn't happened (I realise that some of you may want to put 'yet' in here), we have the opportunity to CHOOSE HOW YOU RESPOND.
On the assumption that the worst case might happen, let's try out these questions and write down your answers to each now:
* Is there anything I can do ahead of the Outcome arising? (If it's totally out of your control, at least you know that and can look at the other questions)
* What different constructive activities could I do NOW to prepare myself for this Outcome? (name at least 3 activities)
* Who could I speak to NOW that might know of some relevant opportunities that I could position myself for?
* How could I MAKE THE MOST of the situation - where could I spend my time and money productively to keep me focused and positive?
* Who could I speak to NOW for support, to talk my ideas through?
Writing down the answers to these questions might also prompt some other useful questions and ideas to encourage a positive outlook.
I know that when I apply these questions for myself, I definitely feel in a better EXPANSIVE place after, than sitting under those clouds of doom.
Because I've come up with Options about how I can move forwards.
What works for you?
b) BEST CASE: the Outcome you DO WANT happens. But what is it???
Have you spent as much time focusing on What You WANT, as you did on what you don't want?
Here's a few more questions for you to consider and write down your answers:
* What Outcome is the MINIMUM that you would settle for?
* What Outcome do you REALLY WANT for yourself, beyond the minimum?
* What would be a FANTASTIC Outcome for you?
* How do each of these different Outcomes make you FEEL and notice what THOUGHTS come up about each Outcome?
* How would your life and/or business be DIFFERENT if you could CREATE each one of these Outcomes?
You also can apply the same questions posed in 'a) Worst Case' and write down your answers for each of these Outcomes, and see what comes up for you.
I'd love to hear your ideas.
4) DO - TAKE ACTION
Many people don't realise that they have a choice between :
* Staying with their anxiety, and
* Being response-able for thinking and feeling differently, creating a new Ideal Outcome and taking positive action towards it.
Since YOU DO NOW KNOW THIS now, it's YOUR TURN : How do YOU CHOOSE TO RESPOND?
Will you start creating a new sunny possibility for your future self (regardless of what's happening at the moment) ?
or will you continue to sit waiting under the dark clouds of doom for something that you don't want to happen?
ACKNOWLEDGE. MOVE. PLAN. ACTION
THANK YOU for staying with me through this post.
I really hope this has given you some insights into how to address anxiety, and that you're able to apply the steps to create a new brighter future for yourself.
Here's to your Success!