When people would ask whether I was going to take time off for something I would reply, "I would love to, but my boss is such a Bitch"! It was fairly entertaining to watch their wheels turn as they attempted to piece togehter who this Bitchy Boss might be since I am self-employed!
What they didn't know was that my "boss" wouldn't give me time off because my inner "boss" was my anxiety. Anxiety would tell me that taking time off would make my business fall apart. That I couldn't relax because something "bad" would happen. That I had to work harder and give more of myself to my clients. It was even sneaky enough to convince me that I was better at my job than at anything in my personal life (like being a wife and a mother) and that I "should" just work instead of being "bad" at those other parts of my life.
Well, thankfully, I have worked pretty darn hard on my relationship with Anxiety. I learned how to "talk back" to all of the "What Ifs" that Anxiety would throw at me and we are a much better team these days! Anxiety and I are better partners than back in the day when I was calling her a Bitchy Boss and so, I am proud to announce, my "Boss" is giving me a week off to celebrate the Holidays with my family and friends.
My Christmas wish for all of you is that you and your Anxiety learn to work as a Team in 2017!
So growing up I was a little resentful of Christmas. It kind of stole the thunder away from my birthday! Once I got to high school though, I was somehow able to trade in my disappointment in how many people forgot about my birthday (yeah, picture Sixteen Candles) and embraced the fact that everyone was so hung over from the holidays that I got cash instead of gifts. This was such a big deal that you would think that I might have planned my daughter's birthday with that in mind....and I did not!
Yeah, on top of the Hoopla of the Holidays this time of year, we also have to squeeze in a birthday celebration! Now that she is turning seven, I feel like I'm starting to get how this works AND make it work for us.
What are the Holidays (I'm gonna define Holidays as the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, or anytime around this time of year that brings families together and raises stress levels through the roof!) like for you and your family? Do you have particular memories from childhood? Have you created traditions as an adult? Do you feel excitement or dread, joy or disappointment?
This is definitely a time of year when Anxiety will do it's best to get your panties in a wad! It will tell you that something bad will happen (you will disappoint someone, or someone will be mad at you) if you don't whip yourself in a frenzy and get EVERYTHING done for EVERYONE else!
Anxiety may also convince you to just stay home. That party might be UNCOFORTABLE and you can't be CERTAIN how a situation will work out, so it is best to just AVOID these situations. Does that sound at all familiar?
Whatever way your Anxiety shows up during the Hoopla around the Holidays, here are some suggestions for ways to "Talk Back" and embrace more Joy during this Season:
1) KISS (Keep It Simple Santa)...Take a look at your calendar for the next two weeks. Notice which activities, events, and to-do list items fill you will excitement or at least a sparkle and which ones fill you with dread. Go ahead and delete those dread filled ones and focus on what is important to you! Convince Anxiety to help you focus on what's important, and not the noise associated with all the items on your to-do list.
2) Remind yourself that these Holidays are going to happen regardless of whether you have prepared perfectly or not! A client was sharing with me how it finally clicked for her when she gave a present to her nephew that she had spent at least 10 minutes wrapping "perfectly" and how the wrapping was "destroyed" in less than 2 seconds. Find ways to be less perfect and more present to how you choose to spend your time and energy (BTW, got to love gift bags!). Convince Anxiety to spend time with people and not with presents.
3) Carve out at least 15 minutes each day between now and the end of the year. We all have to have some time to recharge our battery. Anxiety will drain your energy if you let it, so pick a space or activity that "floats your boat" and spend a moment recharging each day. Convince Anxiety that the two of you are making self care a priority....and tell it to "stuff" it if it brings up your long to do list (oh, and refer it back to #1).
Happy Holidays to each and every one of you...and your Anxiety too :-)
Who likes to feel uncomfortable? Yeah, I'm pretty sure if Uncomfortable was a college course, no one would voluntarily sign up! Here's the thing, though, feeling uncomfortable, being in uncomfortable situations....all part of life.
I know that society (driven by Advertisers, perhaps?) gives us the message that comfort is the key to happiness. Our Anxiety buys into that message and bombards us daily with thoughts about how to make our lives easier, more comfortable, and more certain. And yet we never seem to truly get "there" (wherever "there" is!). For every discomfort there is someone else selling our Anxiety another idea or product to keep us far away from the feared "uncomfortable".
Guess what? Feeling uncomfortable, even being uncomfortable, it's what inspires us to do great things! It is key to boosting our self-confidence. If we don't allow ourselves to be in new, unique, and uncomfortable situations, we are not able to see just exactly what we are made of! We have to challenge ourselves to find our place in the world.
Anxiety would have us make our worlds very, very small. It convinces us that safety, security, certainty, and comfort are the way to feel "happy" and yet none of us can feel truly happy in a tiny little box. As we are willing to step outside of the box, embrace the unknown, and expand our world, one step at a time...it is then that we can discover our true selves, challenge our old beliefs about ourselves, find out what we are capable of, and really experience what happy feels like.
Here are three steps to getting out of your tiny little comfort zone and expanding your world:
1) Notice situations where you feel uncomfortable. Who, what, when, and where are you avoiding? Large crowds? School? Finishing a project? Starting a project? Food? Driving? There are lots of people, places, and things that cause us to feel uncomfortable.
2) Pick one area to work on. When we are working to change old habits, taking one step at a time helps us to stay focused and be more successful in our goals.
3) Commit to dealing with your specific "Discomfort" for 5 minutes. That's it. Just 5 minutes. Allow yourself to sit with the uncomfortable feelings for just 5 minutes to start. You can do anything for 5 minutes, right?
The goal here is to remind yourself and your anxiety that you can be uncomfortable for periods of time and that "uncomfortable" is temporary. Once you master 5 minutes, see what happens when you commit to 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, then maybe 30 or 45!
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor