I’m preoccupied with anxiety at the moment…
A dear one, close to me, is living the label of anxiety. She has been going through many tough times in her recent past, which now leads her to feel constantly concerned about aspects of her future. In response her psyche is giving her warnings of fear and danger ahead; overwhelming her brain, body and emotions to the point of panic attacks.
Therefore, so the medical profession says, she is suffering from ‘anxiety’; in order that what she is going through can be contained and managed by them.
This word ‘anxiety’ delineates her. It means that, as is so often the case, they have latched onto a symptom and repeat it to themselves and to her, so that it becomes not a lesson, but a preoccupation.
I’m not here to decry their methods, I can see that many of the tools they use, I use too in my coaching with my clients, but I want to make a difference to this situation and to others who are feeling the same symptoms, not least myself…
I don’t like labels, but I do like explanations, and sometimes when I see similar preoccupations with clients too – I explain that anxiety is about creating stories in our minds and then projecting them as happenings in our future. But I am also very clear that is not a label to live by.
So many of us feel the fear… Our thoughts say – in the future – this will happen, and that will happen and it won’t be good…
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. My thoughts start spiralling and I find myself worrying about what will be… how certain situations will pan out… that things in my future may well fail or crash and burn…
And then I catch myself thinking – ‘so, I suffer from anxiety too’… It’s like I’m catching it, just like an infectious disease… I’m reading the label on someone else and now applying it to myself…
So it is time to STOP this anxious thinking and to coach myself back to clarity.
What do I say to my coaching clients at times like these? Well – I explain that fear is not reality, it is instead a negative projection of what you have decided could happen in the future.
Early on in my coaching career I was taught an acronym which nicely sums this up; it states that fear is actually a:
Fear is living in the future – the worst possible future. It is your brain warning you of the pitfalls of a situation – saying that danger lies ahead. But this is only one dimension of the future. You could have many futures, including positive ones.
Yes – danger, pain and difficulty may all exist in the future, but equally, they may NOT. Resolution, normality and joy may also be in store for you, so why doesn’t your brain remind you of that???
Such thought processes happen for a lot reasons… many of us are psychologically wired up in this animalistic / protectionist way. Culturally too, so often we have grown up around influencers who always point out the negatives, difficulties and pitfalls of a situation.
Life should be a balance, so how shattering would it be to continually either live in the mire of fear or else to constantly expend effort to exert the balance back to trust and confidence in the future? Well many people do and it is completely draining and exhausting, both mentally and physically…
So how about a new tactic? As usual, with the tools that I deploy for myself and hence my clients, this is a simple one and it is this: I release anxious thoughts to ‘the then’…
What this means is that I decide that worrying about future events and how they will end or make me feel is a waste of effort; since my thoughts now will not change the reality of the situation of then.
I know from experience that I can trust myself to deal with all manner of situations – negative and positive. Time has proven that I have mastered resources, dealt with situations and at the very least lived through and survived them all and usually, thrived through most of them. So I remind myself of this fact.
I remind my fearful ego that I can trust myself to deal with what ever comes up for me and that all I am doing in projecting all my possible disasters into the future is making myself unhappy. Yet I want to be happy right now, since ‘now’ – this breath, this space, is what I have, so this means that I have to let go of the future and be anchored instead in the present.
This is when I decide to let go to ‘the then’ and that I will deal with what ever the issue is then, knowing that when it is time for that issue to be dealt with, it will all happen in good order, despite what the fearful part of my brain says.
Often, just letting go to ‘the then’ is enough to shake my clients out of this anxious cycle. Sometimes it may seem overwhelming, so it will need reinforcing by sharing your commitment to let go with trusted others.
As a coach I reinforce this strategy with a number of emotional release and NLP techniques to both embed it in and speed it through the psyche.
So, to underpin ‘letting go to the then’, here is another acronym:
It is indeed, time to trust and to let go to the then.
With love, from
Coach, Author and Believer
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