So frequently when I am talking to clients (or friends, or family, or complete strangers 😳) they will respond to something I’ve said with “I never thought of it that way”! For example, I was doing a workshop on Work Stress and a woman was telling the story of being at the end of her work day and looking through classrooms for an item that she had misplaced earlier in the day, when she happened upon a student who was hiding under a desk. 😬
In her story she was focused on how challenging it was to find someone to help her figure out who was supposed to be responsible for the student. This is totally understandable and definitely stress inducing when you think of all of the “outside” influences like how you are not getting paid enough, how other co-workers attitudes suck, and that you are just plain tired (to name a few!).
However, one thing that I know to be true is that if you take just a moment and look for the opportunity for what to be grateful for, you can decrease your stress by dealing with your “inside” stuff. Who wants to guess what I pointed out to her that I was grateful for in her story (and that left her saying, “I didn’t think of it that way!”)? If you guessed (or knew) that the answer was “I’m grateful that you happened to have lost an item and were in that room looking for it at exactly the moment that the student was in need of assistance!” then give yourself a gold star and move to the head of the class 😉
Yep, good ol’ fashioned Gratitude (you know that word everyone throws around like confetti this time of year 😜) is one of the best ways to flip your Anxiety on it’s head! Anxiety gets fed when you over focus on the external (outside) events rather than focusing on how you perceive (look at it from the inside) the event. When you choose to look for at least one thing to be grateful for when something “bad” or challenging (or that you just plain ol’ don’t like 🙄) then you can put Anxiety on a diet!
Here is another example that is playing out as I type this: I get up early (even on Sunday morning 😳) because, to me, having my quiet time is sacred. You know those memes about people who you are not supposed to talk to until they have had a certain amount of coffee? Well my quiet time is just like that!
So the external (outside) event going on is that my daughter has decided to invade my morning quiet time. Not just a quiet interruption near the end of my time….we are talking full on invasion 😳 She used to get up and come out near the end and I had figured out how to deal with that, but this weekend she has gotten up almost at the same time that I have (which is a good hour before I “expected” her!). This has been building since the time change and we even moved her bedtime back by 1/2 hour to see if we could handle it as a “win-win” situation (she wins by getting to be a “big girl” with a later bedtime and I win by not having to get up at 3:00AM just to get some quiet time 😂). Great idea, in theory, but it is not playing out, at least not at the moment 🙄
So what are my options? I can be really pissy and irritable and carry that into the day. Anxiety loves this approach 😜 Remember that Anxiety wants you all to itself, so the more that it can fuck with your relationships with others, the happier it is 🙄 The approach that I am currently using (and believe me folks, I sometimes default to the former…) is to set some boundaries with her (“no, you may not watch TV” and “no, you may not type on my laptop” and “yes, you can type on the old laptop while you sit quietly next to me”) and then do a whole lot of self talk around what I am grateful for 😍
I am grateful that I even have a child to drive me batty! I was 41 years old when I got married for the first and only time (yeah, that’s another story for another day 🤣) and just shy of 43 when my daughter came along. While being a mom is by far the hardest job I have ever had (and that’s saying something as I used to work at a psychiatric hospital and I saw and experienced some shit 😬), it is also, by far, the most rewarding. When you have a teacher in your presence for as much time as we are together, it can be intense. When I told her that I was feeling challenged by this new behavior of her “invading” my quiet time, her response was “Good, having challenges helps you to have a better life” 😳😬😂 Speak the truth sister!
So this morning I am choosing to focus on being grateful that not only do I have a child to drive me batty, but that she is strong willed, intelligent, sarcastic, creative, tenacious, and a damn fine teacher 😍. She keeps me on my toes and calls me on my bullshit! She makes me want to beat my head against a wall and she makes me laugh until my stomach hurts! I am grateful for all of the mistakes that I can turn into opportunities. I am grateful that I have a story to share with you this morning 😊
As we head into Thanksgiving week, consider whether Anxiety talks you into getting stuck in the external events like how obnoxious your brother-in-law is or whether your pumpkin pie is going to be perfect and see what you can do to change your internal perception 🤔 Do your best to Flip it to something like: “Thank goodness I’m not married to this bozo, I only have to deal with him once in awhile” and “thankfully my family is a bunch of pigs so that pumpkin pie is going to be devoured in about 5 seconds flat so who cares what it looks like”!
OK, so my examples are purposefully over the top to prove a point. No matter the situation, you can always find at least one thing (even if it is totally inappropriate, but funny as shit) to be grateful for. Remember that Humor will get you far as you deal with family this Holiday Season 😉
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor