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365 Ways to Start Over: Day #20 – Melt Your Anxiety with Compassion for It
Fear is a useful emotion that is self-preserving. Our intuition tells us to be afraid so that we may protect ourselves from harm. When you see a dog bearing its teeth your fear instinct tells you to stay away.
Anxiety is not fear. Anxiety is preparing for a perceived fear that is most likely emotional and not environmental. It is a part of you that is trying to protect you from a perceived danger – most likely pain or failure. In actuality anxiety never protected anyone from any danger but indeed from doing all the important things that matter in life such as create, take risk, practice, produce, love, make good judgments and connect with people.
Anxiety is practicing failure in advance. It can take such hold of you that if left untamed it can overtake your ability to be rational which itself can lead to emotional pain and failure.
1. Notice when you are anxious. Be aware of what triggers it. Accept that anxiety is a part of you (not a foreign creature) that is trying to protect you.
2. Be compassionate and curious to your anxiety as you would be to anyone trying to protect you. What does it want to protect you from? Give “anxiety” something else to do with its energy. Ask it if you can carry it for a while instead of it trying to carry you? Can it ride on your back instead of distracting you in front of your face? Don’t dismiss or try to ignore anxiety for it knows how to get around to your other ear – invite it in and give it a rest.
3. Substitute your anxious thoughts with a replacement statement. If you are envisioning yourself failing and you start hearing the broken record in your mind telling you so, replace those thoughts with a statement such as: It’s no big deal; I appreciate your concern but I am needed to do something important right now; I’m not anxious – I’m excited; It just doesn’t matter; I’m ok.
When your heart starts to pound and your worries flood back unannounced, just acknowledge that anxiety is there trying to protect you. Then offer it a break. It must be very tired from all its work. Start now!
Get Mary Lee’s articles Feel the Fear – How to Build Self Confidence and Are You Leading Your Life or an Actor in Your Own Drama on her website Articles and Tip Sheets page.
Mary Lee Gannon is the president of Gannon Group – an executive coaching and consulting firm that produces higher individual and organizational performance through Executive Leadership Coaching, Fundraising Coaching, Organizational Development, Board Retreats, Visioning, and Planning. Mary Lee’s personal turnaround came as a stay-at-home mother, with four children under seven-years-old, who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the country club life to public assistance from where within a short time she worked up to the level of CEO. Her book “Starting Over – 25 Rules for When You’ve Bottomed Out” is available in bookstores or at Amazon. Get her FREE ebook – “Grow Productivity – A Leader’s Toolbox” on her web site at www.StartingOverNow.com.