I am a world-class worry wart. Believe me, I know anxiety well. I’ve pitched my tent there and camped out with anxiety a lot in the past. I still do some, but if I catch myself worrying, I now say this to myself:
“To worry is to pray for what I don’t want.”
Now, please don’t punch me in the face. I’m not saying it’s your fault when something bad happens. Not at all.
What I’m saying is this:
Pretend you just woke up, and you stub your toe. In other words, your day starts out shitty. Then you notice the coffee has run out, and your day is getting worse, if that’s possible, and it’s not even 6:30 am yet.
Your thoughts are starting a downward spiral which you are getting sucked into fast – like a vortex of spinning energy you can’t stop. Here are your thoughts:
“Why does this always happen to me?”
“It’s gonna be a terrible day!”
“What if the meeting today is gonna suck?”
“I bet I won’t get through my to-do-list today.”
And woosh, down goes the energy, and wouldn’t you know it? The day IS terrible. The meeting DOES suck. You didn’t even scratch the surface of your to-do list.
And you feel terrible.
This downward spiral stuff happened to me the first week my three kids started school this September. I had been homeschooling them for their whole lives, and they all started public school at the same time. The first week was rough for two of my kids: they didn’t know anyone, the new environment and structure were foreign to them, they missed being home.
My mind went into overdrive: What if they never make friends? What if they never fit in? What if this was the biggest mistake we’ve ever made, and my kids will be scarred for life?
The deeper I hysterically pondered this, the more vivid the pictures in my head became. You know, when a thought suddenly turns into a big movie screen, with flashing colors, its own plot, and sound effects to boot.
And you notice your body is getting flooded with stress hormones, adrenaline, fear and dread, just as if the scenario in your head is actually HAPPENING for real?
Thoughts are incredibly powerful. I stopped myself and asked, “Is this really what I want for my kids? This techni-color picture of gloom and doom? Or do I want to see them happy, integrated and thriving? Yes, that!
So I dropped everything I was doing, sat down and visualized them like that: flourishing. Whenever fear crept up, I directed my thoughts to seeing my kids ecstatic and smiling.
Whatever the outcome, my body and mind felt much better visualizing the positive rather than seeing all the horror scenes in my mind.
And wouldn’t you know? After a week of adjusting, the middle kid started loving school and the social scene, the sports, band. And although it took longer for my third child, four weeks after starting school the other students in her second grade class are now fighting for her attention, wanting to be her best friend.
Did my visualizing help? I’d like to think so. I do believe in the Law of Attraction, prayer, positivity. But even if that didn’t play a factor, it is true that I felt much more calm, relaxed and peaceful. I bet my mindset helped my kids, instead of dealing with a hysterical, worried, hovering mother.
Here are some ways to deal with anxiety:
- Eat chocolate. Just kidding. Or not. It actually helps me.
- Breathe. Seriously. Oxygen does wonders for your mood.
- Turn towards your inner child, the one that worries she’s not good enough, she’s not safe, she’s a burden to others. If you don’t know how to do this, schedule a free coaching session with me. It could change your life.
- Notice your body sensations when you worry: tension, gripping, tightness, pain. Send some love and breath there.
- Then say to yourself: “I’m going to make a different choice here. Right now, I’m kind of praying for what I don’t want to happen. What do I want to happen instead?”
- Visualize in full techni-color a new scenario: what would you like this to be? Paint a picture in your mind. What does it smell like, feel like, look like? Stay there for a while.
- Talk with a friend (or coach). Make sure it’s someone who has earned the right to hear your story, someone you trust completely.
- Be super-super-super kind, compassionate, gentle and sweet with yourself. Beating yourself up on top of the anxiety doesn’t help.
- Exercise. I get on my bike and pump some endorphins out in the fresh air. And then I go and eat some more chocolate.