We have hit a milestone at our house.
My daughter moved into a new bedroom. One that is much bigger than her old room. One that is on a different floor from ours.
Now so much of what surrounded this move was exciting AND so much of it felt “terrifying” to her.
We talked about it for quite some time. At some point the move took on a life of its own. She came up with lots of ideas for her new room. Platform bed, window seat, three ring circus 😳
Accomplishing this move took some amount of planning as it was not a one to one switch. There were lots of moving parts. This just allowed more time for her to build excitement.
So yesterday was the day that we worked on the phase that would lead to last night being her first night sleeping in her new bigger bed in her new bigger room. We all worked hard moving furniture and clothes and such. It was very exciting.
Then it was time to go to sleep.
Despite all of the excitement leading up, that’s when Anxiety tipped the scales and the tears flowed.
Now I could have talked logically to her about all the positive aspects of this big change AND what I know about Anxiety is that it does not respond well to Logic.
So we just cried and accepted and embraced that there were lots of big feelings happening and that all of them were valid.
Then we talked about the "What ifs” like “What if I hear a noise?” and “What if I can’t sleep?” and “What if I don’t like it?”
See Anxiety wants you to get caught up in the “What ifs” and go running for the comfort zone.
The tricky part of the Comfort Zone is that nothing new happens there. It’s pretty fucking boring there. Life doesn’t really happen in the Comfort Zone.
So at our house, we answer those “What ifs” with real answers. Answers that we don’t necessarily like, yet answers all the same.
Because we know that Worrying is not Problem Solving. Anxiety doesn’t want you to problem solve, it wants you to stay stuck in Worry, where it can control you easier. Fuck Anxiety!
So we found an answer for each “What if”, like “Be curious about the noise and see if you can figure out where it is coming from” and “You don’t have to sleep, you can just lay here and rest” (and take a nap tomorrow), and “If you don’t like it grab your pillow and go sleep in your old room, we can sort if out in the morning”.
In the end, she was ready to commit to her goal and she didn’t wake me up until 4:30 this morning 😬
So while we didn’t get a lot of sleep, we still made progress.
As she put it, “I may not have slept the whole night in my room, but I didn’t sleep anywhere else either”!
Anxiety did not win.
How do you talk back to your Anxiety?
Acknowledge your Big Feelings, answer those “What ifs”, and focus on Problem Solving over Worrying.
Last week my daughter learned a tough lesson about how our fantasies do not often dovetail smoothly with our realities 😔
Of course when our kids are learning lessons, we parents are learning the tough lessons right along beside them 😫
My daughter has a few friends at school who enjoy gymnastics and spend their recess time flipping around and cartwheeling across the playground. They are a year older. She looks up to these girls and a part of her really wants to be able to do these fancy gymnastics moves.
Here’s the thing though.
A couple of these girls are freakishly flexible.
My daughter is the opposite of freakishly flexible 😳
When we started looking for summer camp experiences, my daughter was adamant that she wanted to go to a gymnastics camp. Immediately my Mama Beardar (that’s my Mama Bear Protective Radar) perked up. “This is not a good idea” was the readout I was getting. I kept my mouth shut.
So she was signed up and in the weeks leading up to camp she would talk about how excited she was to go to the camp and about how she was "sure" that she was going to learn how to do cartwheels and handstands.
She even mentioned that maybe she could do two weeks of camp there 🤔
My Mama Beardar was going nuts!
See, I had a group of friends when I was in elementary school who spent recess doing cartwheels and backhandsprings and all of that fun (looking) gymnastics stuff. I tried to fit in. I’m not freakishly flexible either.
What did I get when I tried to do a back handspring? A headache from landing on my head! 😫
So off she went on the first day of camp. We talked about how feeling nervous and feeing excited feel the same in our bodies and so we focused on being excited. The conversation and reminder were for both of us 😬
I spent the day being slightly uncomfortable. Walking my talk, though, as I planned for the worst (her being miserable and refusing to return the next day) AND expected the best (that she have a great time). If I ask my clients to do that I better damn well practice what I preach!
Well, I pick her up and at first she says it was “O.K.”, but before we are even a mile away the tears started 😭
It took some sorting through, but what I got was that “all” the other girls knew how to do gymnastics, some of them quite well. Her attempts to sit out and observe (her go to move, which looks a bit like Sitting Bull at a protest 😳) did not fly with the counselors and so she participated without having a clue as to what she was doing.
Can you relate to that feeling? “Everyone” else knows what to do. You feel like you have no idea AND you can’t escape. Yep, for us adults especially, that’s the stuff of our nightmares 😬
So what do we do in situations like this? We look for someone else to connect with. Someone else who may not be an expert either.
Yeah, my daughter did that. There were two other girls who weren’t “good” at gymnastics. Guess what? They were “mean” 😔
Yep, so now it was time to deal with my parenting angst. My Mama Beardar had been spot on and now it was time to deal with the situation at hand.
We spent most of the evening talking it out.
Papa Bear was ready to open a can of Woop Ass on those “Gymnastic Girl Bitches” so he was dismissed from service to have a time out 😜
I thanked my Anxiety for it’s service in alerting me to the “danger” and then got on about teasing out “the good, the bad, and the ugly” from the day.
There was lots of conversation.
And then we went to bed.
Anxiety and I were up in the middle of the night. 🙄
We had a fairly pleasant conversation.
Oh, there were some What if’s initially.
Yeah, a bunch of fucking noise 🙄
Fortunately I don’t put up with Anxiety’s noise, especially in the middle of the night.
I answered all of the What if’s:
I am confident that while I may not like the options, I do have options.
While it may be uncomfortable, I can deal with whatever happens.
"Thanks for the strategy session Anxiety, now I’m going back to sleep" 😴
Oh, I didn’t mention all the angst around how my daughter was wrestling with this huge life lesson. Yeah, that was like the butter all over this piece of burnt toast 😜
My mantra as I drifted back to dreamland was “She will make her own choice”.
The life lesson for both of us was to face our fears, deal with our Anxiety, make a choice, and then take action.
So that’s what happened.
The next morning she rolled her sore body out of bed (and I mean literally rolled out of bed like the drama queen that she can be 🙄), shared that while she felt nervous she had decided to return and enjoy the fun parts and to challenge herself to deal with the harder parts, even the emotionally harder parts.
The car ride home after the second day was much different, full of smiles and tales of triumph rather than tragedy 🤩
Did she reach her goals of learning to do a cartwheel or handstand? Nope.
She did learn how to do a bridge and is still working on that at home over a week later.
Did she become best buddies with any of the girls? No, but she was kind to them and they were kind in return.
Was she proud of herself for proving that she could weight the pros and cons, make a commitment, and work toward her goals? Damn straight! 👊
Am I glad that I listened to my Anxiety and Mama Beardar AND that I chose to support rather than protect my daughter? Hell yes! 🙌
Was it challenging and uncomfortable being uncertain about what the “right” thing to do was? Umm...Yep!
Am I glad that I recognized that there was no “right” thing to do and that I let her work it out? Of course 😊
“You have plenty of courage, I am sure," answered Oz. "All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.” - L. Frank Baum, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
Holy Moly! Have you ever experienced wind like that before?
I’m spending this “dangerously high winds” day at home with my family being very grateful that I didn’t “need” or “want” to go anywhere.
As I write I am watching one of the dead trees on our property swaying so far to one side and just being amazed that it is still standing.
How did you spend your time during the storm?
Did you, at least once, wonder if you are going to end up in Oz?
When my daughter made the reference about feeling like we were in a tornado, I knew what I was going to write about this week:
How your Anxiety is like The Wizard in that famous story filled with ruby slippers, munchkins, the yellow brick road, and a group of oddballs looking for courage, heart, brains, and a way home.
So, aside from those fucking creepy as shit flying monkeys, I remember enjoying watching that movie once a year as a kid (yeah, back when you couldn’t watch stuff “on demand”).
It was always a special occasion on a Sunday night and we would get to stay at my grandparent’s longer than usual in order to watch it.
Back then I just thought it was a cool story and was fascinated by how the “real world” was in black and white and amazed that Oz was in full, vibrant color.
Blew my mind!
Anyway, as an adult I started thinking about how the story plays out. Dorothy and Toto show up in Oz and from the beginning she just wants to go home. She is told by the locals that The Wizard is basically the “all knowing” and that he would have an answer for her.
She meets other folks (Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion) who are also searching for answers and she repeats (without actual first hand knowledge) that “she knows a guy” who can help them all.
Even once they arrive at the Castle there are all of these hoops to jump through that just continue to feed their assumption that the Wizard is “the guy”.
So they get their audience with The Wizard and he lives up to their illusion of him. Big booming voice, scary as shit floating head, fire, flashing lights….hmmmm🤔 don’t all of those types of things trigger our fight or flight fear mechanism?
Anyway, so they tell him their Anxious thoughts ("I’m scared and want to escape and go home", "I’m stupid and need a brain", "I’m heartless and need a heart", "I’m a scaredy cat and need courage") and he sets them up to believe that he has The Power to bring them relief by giving them what they want.
But there is a catch.
They have to do something to prove they are worthy (go get the broom) and off they go on the next part of their adventure.
Flash forward (past those fucking creepy monkeys) and they arrive back in front of The Wizard and what does he try to pull? He tries to get them to do another dirty deed for him.
Any of this sound familiar? You have an Anxious thought (something that starts your heart and brain racing like I don’t know how to work with people with Anxiety so I have to spend more time and money taking workshops and classes) and then Anxiety jumps in and says “Just do this thing so that you feel more certain and comfortable” and so you do the thing (false comforts like seeking reassurance and spending more time and money taking workshops and classes) and then expect that all will be right with the world and you will feel better.
Yeah, except then you have another Anxious thought and Anxiety (The Wizard) is right back at you telling you that there is more to do again. Over and over and over….(seek reassurance, stay home, turn down the opportunity, buy the thing on Amazon, take another class)...
So, back to the story…..How does our little gang of Anxious misfits (who have just had this awesome adventure and used their Super Powers - that they are completely unaware of - to get past the guards and those fucking creepy monkeys and take down the Wicked Witch of the West) finally break the cycle?
The dog does it (of course because the dog isn’t caught up in all the Anxious Thoughts, he’s just being a dog!).
While they are busy fussing back and forth with The Wizard, Toto decides to PULL BACK THE CURTAIN AND EXPOSE THE CON ARTIST!
Yep, turns out The Wizard (Anxiety) is nothing more than a con artist with short man’s syndrome who seized an opportunity.
When he arrived in Oz, the folks there seemed to be looking for someone outside of themselves to be in charge, so he just set himself up as the man with the answers. He used all kinds of bells and whistles to distract them from figuring out they he was just a man and not the All Powerful Oz.
Dorthy is so pissed at first, then the conversation turns to some of the most important take aways from the whole story:
You have the power inside of you.
No one else can tell you that.
You have to discover it for yourself.
Hit reply and tell me one thing that you want, but have doubted yourself about.
One thing that eludes you because of negative thinking and your VOD (voice of doubt).
One thing that may actually be your Super Power if you could just recognize it yourself….
Are you old enough to remember this game?
One kid stands away from the group with their back to their friends and becomes the Mother or Father (Parent in Charge).
The others ask questions like “Mother May I take 5 giant steps forward?” Or “Father, may I run for 2 seconds?”
To which the PIC either says “yes you may” or “no you may not, you may take 2 giant steps backward”.
The goal is to get to the Parent as quickly as possible so as to become the PIC.
One thing about this game that I find interesting is how much each of the kids playing wants to be the Parent in Charge.
When we are kids we think that other people, like our parents, teachers, older siblings, principals, older kids on the bus, bus drivers, and what seems like anyone else who thinks they are the “boss” of us, have The Power.
Games like “Mother May I?” gave us moments to practice having The Power over our friends and neighbors and cousins.
What happens when we grow up though?
Who is in charge then?
For some of us it sure does seem like we can spin our wheels looking for someone (besides ourselves) to give us permission to do what we want to do.
Now some of us don’t seem to have any trouble being like the Mother in “Mother May I?”! We are great at bossing around our kids, husbands, and any one else who may (or may not) be looking for some good bossing around 😜
However, we are also looking for a Boss. We have an idea and we immediately look for someone, whether it be a friend, family member, or coworker and we ask them to validate (or give permission for) our idea.
I notice other therapists all the time who get caught up in asking other therapists (myself included) whether they "can" do this or “should” they do that!
Please don’t “should” on yourself, it’s rather messy 😜
My answer when I get questions like “How do you keep it “clean" with insurance companies?” is “Before I answer your question, please keep in mind that I am a Dirty Girl” 😳😬😂
I notice people all of the time who do not trust themselves to make decisions and who seem to constantly be seeking permission from others. Seeing others as having more power or more knowledge or more skills or more _______ (fill in the blank with your insecurity of choice).
Here is what I think is really going on. Anxiety loves an opportunity to be the one in charge.
It’s answer to “Mother May I?” is always “NO”!
So when Anxiety shows up as VOD (remember a few weeks ago when we talked about your Voice of Doubt) or any other form it likes to take (like Imposter or being Sensitive) it convinces you that you are Incompetent, that you must do more to prove yourself worthy, and that your ideas are either dumb or that you must have more training in order to be even considered to know what you are talking about 🙄
Most importantly it convinces you that you don’t have The Power and so you have to listen to Anxiety and shut it down or you have to find someone else with more Power than your Anxiety to reassure you that you have permission to move forward.
Are you starting to see how Fucked Up this way of thinking can be?
OK, maybe "Fucked Up” is a bit harsh here AND it got your attention, didn’t it?
Bottom line , YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOU!
Not your mother or father or principal or boss or kids or best friend or bitchy neighbor or husband or person in the check out line at the grocery store or Me or Anxiety 😳
YOU ARE YOUR OWN BOSS for most of the decisions that are made every day.
Let that sink in for a moment….
Scary ain’t it? 😬
Now don’t go freakin’ out on me here!
I’m not suggesting that you not have a friend, mentor, or even a coach to support you in making big decisions.
I’m not saying that you are no longer allowed to ask your spouse or parents or friends or the person in the check out line at the grocery store (although I would stay away from the bitchy neighbor) for their OPINION.
I AM saying that YOUR OPINION is the one that matters the most and that instead of coming from a “one down” position (assuming that the other person is the one with the power) which leads to “asking permission”, that you approach the other person as an equal and use the information that they share as just data in your research.
This includes your Anxiety.
It is not in charge.
Your Anxiety has an opinion and does sometimes give you signals (rather than just shitty static noise) that may be helpful data in your research.
You are the one in charge and you get to decide!
Do you see how changing the way you think about who has the Power can be so powerful in and of itself?
So, I want to know who you give your power over to AND your plan for taking it back!
Hit reply and tell me who you play Mother May I? with! 😍
So, did you spend the week with your panties in a wad?
With Anxiety spinning the words Purpose and Meaning around in your head like a pair of whirling dervishes?
Then let’s dive back into this idea that Meaning and Purpose can be found in The Little Things…
First a little review: Anxiety is all about worrying and being fearful about the future and it’s Butt Buddy Depression is all about regretting and being fearful of the past.
When we are able to keep that in mind AND put forth the effort to stay in the Present, we are more capable of sorting out this whole Meaning and Purpose thing.
Let me give you an example. I know someone who thinks BIG, like “I’m going to be the next Oprah” BIG. From the outside other people would think that she has her shit together and has this whole plan laid out. You know that whole “….and my five year plan is________ and my 10 year plan is ______”.
Why do we assume she has a “plan” for the future?
Because self doubt tells us that “Everyone Else" has a blueprint that lays out the rest of their successful lives and that we are the only one who has no fucking clue 🙄
So while we are busy shaming ourselves and assuming that “Everyone Else” has a roadmap (or a great app like WAZE) for Pursuing their Purpose and are finding Meaning in every action they take, “Everyone Else” is simply finding meaning in what they do each and every day and following the path that lays a stepping stone in front of them one at a time (without knowing exactly where that path is leading…).
What if (and this is Auntie Anxiety asking, not just plain old Anxiety, so you are required to answer this “what if?” Question 😜) today your purpose is to curl up on the couch with your loved ones and enjoy a movie with them?
What if today your purpose is to bake a favorite recipe and share your bounty with a neighbor?
What if today your purpose is to personally answer an email from a potential client or student?
What if today your purpose is to spend some time in the quiet by yourself?
OK, so here is the quiz (don't freak out, I'm going to give you the answer 😜):
What do all of the above examples have in common?
If your answer is Connection then you get a Gold Star 🌟
Connecting to ourselves and to those around us gives us Meaning and in that Meaning we often find Purpose and sometimes that Purpose does work it’s way into something BIG (like lighting the world on fire or becoming the next Oprah) and sometimes our something BIG is simply relative.
Do you know Susie Williams? Probably not. I don’t know her, but I do know that one day, back in about 1954 she asked her school friend to play tennis with her at her parents country club. Her friend, who loved to play softball, asked “what’s tennis?”
We don’t remember Susie Williams, but I’ll bet you know the name of her friend. Susie was just doing her 11 year old self Thing. She wanted to connect with her friend….Billie Jean….
When we just show up each day, connect with ourselves and with others, and talk back to our Fucking Obnoxious Anxiety and it’s buddy Depression, we find meaning in the Little Things and our Purpose just happens without a whole bunch of fireworks or fanfare.
So we may, one day, find ourselves being the next Oprah AND that journey would be filled with the decisions that we made each day to show up and connect with ourselves and with those around us in Little Ways that we may not recognize as leading to Bigger Things.
Let’s do some math (don't freak out, when I say "Let's" I truly mean "let us" with "us" being the key word....I've done most of the math for you and there is no quiz at the end 😜):
If Louise offers a course that 100 counselors join and if each of those counselors has a caseload of 20 clients per week then Louise is now influencing 2,000 people per week. Keep going and that’s 8,000 people per month and if you want to continue to do the math…have at it 😜
The point is that Louise may eventually end up being the next Oprah, but she started with connecting with one person and then kept going because connecting with that one person by email or by phone or in person made her smile 😊
Let's do some more math:
If Lynn reaches 120 people on her email list with an email about Meaning and Purpose and each of those people shares that email with three of their friends or family then Lynn has now reached almost 500 people. That makes Lynn smile 😊
What makes you smile? Do that….and keep doing it. Leave the judgement about how “small” the thing is or how it may not make any money or how it may not “scale” on the curb.
Do the Little Things and let the Universe sort the rest of it out….
Alright, yes, last week’s email had a few more salty word than usual AND, if you haven’t figured it out already, I use very expressive language to make a point. Last week’s email was super important and so I made my point. (Big shout out to those of you who took some of your precious time and completed my survey! If you shared your contact information, I will be in touch this week 😍😘).
So on to this week’s topic. What I am really wanting to talk to you about is Purpose.
Simple enough word and, yet, I have noticed that when I bring this up with clients (as in “Have you considered what your Purpose may be?”) I get this look.
It’s kind of a “you just backed me into a corner and I am debating whether I am going to hang my head in defeat or fucking attack you and rip your throat out so you never utter that word again” look or, simply, “I think I’m gonna Puke!" 😳
I’m curious (and safely hiding behind my computer screen so if you were to choose the second option, I think I am safe 😜), what comes up for you when you read or hear the word “Purpose”?
In exploring this with clients I have often found that:
1) even professionals who have a lot of schooling, have put in years of hard work, and have “successful” careers under their belts are not clear on their “Purpose” and,,,
2) many folks get hung up on the word as they equate it with a career, achievement, success, and financial gains.
What does it mean to you, Lynn?
When this topic comes up (oh, and it comes up A LOT 😉) we explore how Purpose doesn’t have to be a big, huge “light the world on fire” kind of thing.
The idea of Purpose having to be something “BIG” is overwhelming and your VOD (voice of doubt) will jump right in and tell you how you are not:
Remember that your VOD is driven by Anxiety and Anxiety wants to you to “play it safe”, so of course it will tell you all kinds of shit to keep you stuck where it can keep an eye on you 😜
Here’s the thing Lynn: Purpose can be found in the “little things”.
When we let go of the fear that we are “expected” to be the next Oprah or Steve Jobs (hey, if you end up that famous Lynn I do hope you remember us common folk 😘) then it gets a little easier to find our Purpose in the “little things”, the things that we can do each day that give our lives meaning.
There, I said it, Purpose has to do with Meaning.
Now you have two words to get you panties in a wad about 😝
Alright, so here’s the thing. I could ramble on and on about Purpose this morning AND I’m not going to….yet….
Before I go any deeper into this pretty deep shit around Purpose and Meaning (does Anxiety’s Butt Buddy Depression creep it’s way in when you start ruminating about Meaning?), I’m going to ask you to take some action.
Hit reply and tell me what comes up when you hear the words Purpose or Meaning?
Yep, we are going to be talking about Purpose for a few weeks, so you can choose to speak up and participate in the conversation or you can sit this one out.
The choice is yours 😍😘
(and I will understand either way 😊)
A Big Fucking Deal...
Wow, last week’s email really struck a cord, didn’t it?
The Voice of Doubt seems to be a pretty Big Fucking Deal for you.
It seems to be quick to tell you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or doing enough at work.
It shows up before events that “should” be joyous occasions and makes us wonder “What if I mess up or say the wrong thing?”
Stupid Anxiety 😩
So are you enjoying this ride called life from the comfort of the Safety Zone?
Anxiety loves getting it’s way by keeping you stuck in that confined place by using fear and self doubt and any other mental block it can come up with to convince you that the Safety Zone is awesome.
It keeps you from taking risks and reaping the rewards that might come from living a life outside of the Safety Zone.
Here's the thing, though, some part of you (maybe your Wise Mind or Intuition) knows that Anxiety is a Big Fucking Liar...AND...
That part of you has a desire to live outside of the Safety Zone, at least some of the time!
That part of you knows that playing it safe is not actually living 😳
Of course Anxiety does have a big roll of duct tape always ready to shut your Wise Mind up 🙄
Alright, so I could ramble on and on about this AND it’s time to share the truth:
Anxiety is an asshole and it will be attempting to keep you in the Safety Zone for the rest of your boring life...if you let it!
So how do you talk back to Anxiety and embrace this one wild and crazy and beautiful life that you have?
(OK so how many of you are ready to hit Delete right now? Has Anxiety and it’s VOD convinced you that I’m bat shit crazy and that you are to have nothing to do with me from this day forward ?)
The antidote for Anxiety is Action folks.
Plain and simple.
You hear the voice telling you to stick with the boring job AND you ask for a promotion or start your own business anyway.
You hear the VOD telling you that you don’t have enough knowledge so you have to take one more course before you offer your services or start your business AND you offer your service or start your business planning right then and there (without reading one more book, listening to one more podcast, or signing up for one more class).
You hear the VOD telling you that you are going to hurt someone's feelings or be judged or feel stupid so keep quiet AND you step up and speak the truth and see where that leads.
OK, so I know you are overwhelmed and freaking out right now 😳
Guess what? That’s totally O.K.
All that “freaking out” energy can be put to better use.
Taking action does not have to be overwhelming.
I work with people every day who take big steps and small steps and lots of middle sized steps. The size of the step is not nearly so important as the taking of the step in the first place!
So, in the spirit of not taking one more class, listening to one more podcast, or even reading one more book or blog post, I am going to set an example for you and take a step....my VOD has been dealt with over the last couple of months and here goes my action step...
An idea has been percolating in my busy brain about offering a group or course that supports us anxious, Type A, overachieving and overdoing, introverted trying to “keep up” with extroverts, self-doubting, sensitive, sarcastic, stuck in our Safety Zone types.
There I said it out loud and now I want you to hold me accountable.
If I am going to show up in your inbox every week and share my crazy shit, then I am going to walk my talk, no matter how uncomfortable making my journey public may be!
Here is where you can get involved in this action step of mine. If I am going to create a kick ass course or group (or both) then I want to know what it is that you want.
Here is a link to a super short survey that I created (you know I don’t lie to you like Anxiety does....it is 4 questions and will take you about 3 minutes to complete) AND if you choose to answer the last optional question (your name and contact information) we can chat for up to 30 minutes of which about 15 minutes would be me asking you for more details AND the other 15 would be for you to pick my brain about any topic of your choice (yes, even whether having sex with my husband more often is actually my goal for 2018 😜)!
As an added bonus for choosing to take a moment to help me out, I am offering those who are interested an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of whatever wild and crazy course and/or group that is created for a fraction of the final cost.
I am all out of toasters, so if you were holding out for a toaster, you are shit out of luck 😜
Oh, and in case you who might be worrying (I crack myself up, we are all worriers, so of course you are worrying 🤣) I am not going anywhere! I am committed to keep showing up weekly in your inbox and rambling on and on about all kinds of Anxiety related Awesomeness 😍😘
I think for most of us we can wrap our head around the idea that we fear failure. Who wants to look like an ass, feel embarrassed, or face our family and friends (or the general public) when we attempt to do something and it does not work out as planned? I sure as hell don’t!
But what if our fear of failure is really fear of success in disguise?
Say what? That’s just crazy talk…..or is it?
I left you to ponder that our “voice of doubt” (you know the one that shows up immediately and automatically, no matter whether you are doing something for the first time or whether you have been performing your job for 30 years) is the one that we listen to rather than all of the accolades that we receive from our family, friends, colleagues, bosses, strangers on the street, or awesome folks from your e-mail list who hit reply and tell you just how much this week’s email spoke to them 😜
Now, I know you are having a hard time believing that I have a “VOD” and that it shows up regularly.
Maybe your “VOD” is wanting to use this as a way to get you to stop reading my stuff (remember Anxiety wants you all to itself so will look for opportunities to tell you that you are reading lies…) AND I can tell you that my Anxiety in the form of my VOD tells me to NOT share things like how hard I have struggled with writing these e-mails each week.
“Who are you to tell people about how to deal with their Anxiety?”
“No one wants to read your crazy shit!”
“You are going to offend people by writing “crazy shit” 🙄
“You are going to run out of things to say”…
So here’s the deal. Yes, all of this stuff runs through my head (often at about 5am) AND I know that while it appears to be Fear of Failure (looking like an Ass kind of stuff) that it is really tied into Fear of Success…
If I were to actually embrace thoughts and feedback like:
“I know what I am talking about!”
“I have a lifetime of experience dealing with Anxiety AND actual training and shit!"
“You are the expert in Anxiety, Our Guru!”
...then I would have to actually step up to the plate and be willing to hit a home run.
And what would that mean?
Here’s where we psych ourselves out. It would mean that not only would we get the “glory” of success (which seems kind of fabulous to some degree), it would also mean that (for those of us who may be more introverted, sensitive, or reserved) we might actually have to deal with more responsibility than we really want or think that we can handle!
Deep in our subconscious we have beliefs about what would happen if we actually stood up to bat and struck out (let the team and the fans down, feel embarrassed) AND about what would happen if we actually hit a home run (the crowd goes wild, you are in the spotlight).
On the surface we think we want the later; however, we so often let our Anxiety and “VOD” convince us that we actually don’t want either. We just want to sail along in the Safety Zone.
Is your “VOD” just another way that your stupid Anxiety shows up?
Does it get your panties in a wad around fearing failure AND success?
Does it just want to keep you “in your place”?
(Damn it! Once again I have been going on and on and I am running out of time before I am pounced on by an eight year old…)
So I’m going to let you ponder some more….
Why would it do that?
Because it thinks it’s job is to keep you safe...
Failure and Success are outside of the Safety Zone!
Alright, so hit reply and let me know if any of this shit is resonating with you 😳
My goal for next week is to share how I deal with and talk back to my “VOD” and Anxiety 😬
I’m going to confess something to you:
I, Auntie Anxiety, am an email hoarder 😬
As I write this I am taking a break from working on one of my goals (not resolutions, because, say it with me now, "Fuck Resolutions" 😜) to get better systems in place which will make my life easier (this the “Why" that I keep referring to when I want to quit my project of dealing with the 11,000 emails in my inbox and give into the Anxiety around losing an important email and just leave them all there 😫).
Now, you may be asking yourself “Why did you choose a goal around systems rather than having more sex with you husband?” and my first response might be “None ya’ business Nosey 😜”, but my second response would be “Having personal and business goals are both important!”
With any goal that we set, the important part is to answer the “Why?” for ourselves. My “Why” is part of walking my talk. I encourage clients to have systems in place to make their lives easier, so it is important for me to walk that talk too!
That being said, I want to throw something else at you today:
Part of me did not want to share this goal with you.
I was going to just complete this project and pretend like it never happened.
This email hoarding “issue” was going to be a secret that I was going to take to my grave. You know why?
Because sometimes I feel like a fraud, a fake, an imposter.
Yep, Anxiety loves to taunt me with this one. It will get in my ear when I am struggling with something and whisper, “You don’t know what you are talking about. The fraud police are going to show up at your door and haul you away. Then all of your friends and family and clients will know you don’t have a clue.”
It sucks! I have confidence about so many things, but Anxiety knows it can get me with this one.
Every. Single. Time. 😣
The good news? I know how to talk back. I know how to NOT reassure myself, but rather how to actually tell Anxiety to "Bite Me" and to get back to just being me, flaws and all.
See, knowing that you are not a fake, fraud, or imposter has to come from inside, not from outside. How many times have your parents, friends, teachers, professors, bosses, colleagues, or other people who “know” you tell you how wonderful you are? And how many times have to thought to yourself, “If you only knew?”
No one else can tell us who we are. We have to discover, accept, and embrace ourselves for ourselves!
How do we do that? We start by recognizing that the voice of doubt is coming out of the mouth of Anxiety as a way to “protect” us from those nasty feelings of failure. If we just go ahead and feel like a failure, then, when we are found out by the fraud police, it won’t hurt so much….
Ponder that for a bit…I have some emails to attend to 😘
First off, Congratulations! You have officially survived the Holidays. I’m curious….did you do any thriving?
Maybe you were able to KISS your way through?
You accepted and embraced your annoying alcoholic brother in law (and were grateful that you don’t have to go home with him)? Did you take some time for self-care along the way? Now I know that you laughed at least once (or twice 😉), right?
Then congratulations are in order 🎉 You are taking some great new skills with you into 2018!
OK, so speaking of this transition from 2017 to 2018. Do you get caught up in the Hoopla around making resolutions? What is it about this time of year that gets us all wound up about making all kinds of changes, when we know damn well that we are just going to be beating ourselves up before we turn the calendar over to February 😳
I noticed that I was feeling totally overwhelmed yesterday morning as we were getting ready to take a family trip to the grocery store. When I stopped and took a moment (‘cause when I start to feel anxious and overwhelmed, I know that’s my cue to take a moment and check in with my Wise Mind) I had a light bulb moment! A friend had mentioned a book about detoxing and I had gotten it on my Kindle and started looking at recipes. As I was making my grocery list I was adding a shit ton of ingredients fo several of the recipes. Light bulb?
I was attempting to do “all the things” rather than just pick one (maybe two) recipes to test out.
How many times have you let Anxiety talk you into buying into the crazy notion that you can change “all the things” all at the same time? We make resolutions about our health (I’m going to eat better, go to they gym, get more sleep), our relationships (I’m going to stop yelling at my kids, have more sex with my husband, spend more quality family time), and our work life “balance” (I’m going to get my notes done by the end of each day, not be distracted by social media, set up better systems).
What happens next?
We get overwhelmed, throw up our hands, assume that we are a flawed human being, and spend the rest of the winter months back in survival mode and being grouchy and irritable with ourselves and our loved ones. We may even spend our time making excuses and blaming.
Anxiety loves this shit!
It revels in your misery because when you are feeling (and believing those feelings to be real) grouchy and irritable and believing the thought that you are a “failure” then Anxiety gets you all to itself. (OK, that may not be 100% true, because sometimes Anxiety will share you with it’s buddy Depression, especially this time of year 😔).
Anxiety loves to keep you stuck in old behavior patterns and when you buy into all of the insanity of resolutions and even goal setting this time of year, then you are just playing right into Anxiety's trap!
Now I know you are probably thinking, “What do you mean don’t set any goals? I have to have something to keep me going and motivated!” Please, hear me out.
Setting goals and intentions are great WHEN we do them mindfully. First off, pick one, maybe two new goals. All the research on habit change shows that human beings suck at changing more than one thing at a time.
Don’t expect yourself to be a superhuman, stick to whole-assing one new habit.
Once you pick the ONE goal or intention, then clearly define it. Look back at the examples of goals that I used a few paragraphs above. “Get more sleep” or “Not be distracted by social media”, or even “Have more sex with my husband” are just vague notions until you define them.
So let’s use one of these as an example so you can see what I am talking about. Of course I am going to pick that one that gets the most attention: “Have more sex with my husband” 😜.
Now, if I want a chance in hell of this being successful, then I have to spend a little time being mindful of a few things. First, I have to define my “Why?”. Why would I want to have more sex with my husband?
So what might seem like the obvious answer, “I like having sex with my husband”, is not going to cut it here. You have to go deeper. Why do I like having sex with my husband?
Now I am not going to go into all of the kinky details (I know you are disappointed 😜) because the deeper why has more to do with connection. Having more sex with my husband means taking the same 24 hours that I had available yesterday and deciding to reassign more of that time to spending time in an activity that connects me to the person that I love.
Damn! That’s some deep shit there….
Are you still with me? Now keep in mind that I am a perimenopausal woman who, on most days, would rather eat a cookie than put forth the effort to have sex.
This goal is going to take some work. Am I willing to put forth the effort? Am I willing to talk back to the excuses? Am I willing to do what it takes even when I “don’t feel like it”?
These are tough questions and when we are making resolutions and setting goals all willy nilly because that is what we are “supposed to do” this time year. Well, yeah, can you see how that just sets us up for failure? 🤔
So as you finish up this last day of 2017 and head into 2018, my suggestion is to choose one goal, and ask yourself “Why?”.
If I were to actually choose “Have more sex with my husband” as my goal this year (You are just dying to know if that is my actual goal, aren’t you? 😜) I would use that “Why” as my touch stone every time I didn’t feel like it, was making an excuse for myself, and didn’t want to make the effort.
I would also plan out some details that would support me along the way.
Changing our behavior and reaching our goals takes more than just saying. "I am going to do this thing." It takes planning and the willingness to make the effort whether you feel like it or not.
Using my example, I would consider times that might make it easier to be successful. This might mean thinking outside the box like, “Maybe I could wake him up in the middle of the night since we both get up to pee a bazillion times” or “let’s turn off our devices more often when our daughter goes to visit Gramma”.
Remember that Anxiety and it’s buddy Depression will come up with lots of excuses because they don’t want things to change. They think they are protecting you from getting your feelings hurt (“What if he rejects me?”) AND they don’t know how strong and determined you can me.
Maybe you don’t either…..yet 😉
Drop me a line and let me know if you are saying "Fuck Resolutions" this year or if you are going to choose one and go deep!
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor