Monthly Archives: July 2012

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – 4 Techniques for Managing Anxiety about Change

Over the past several weeks I have been experiencing periods of anxiety. Anxiety is just another word for fear. I know that this anxiety is my ego, my warning system, trying to tell me that I’m venturing into unsafe territory.

A few weeks ago I suddenly had a knowing that I was supposed to move. I acknowledged out loud a feeling I’ve had for a while that I am meant to leave Seattle, at least for now. That unleashed a whole lot of discomfort and fear.

Even after I worked through the immediate fear reaction, I have continued to have moments of anxiety pop up, seemingly for no apparent reason. However, I know that it is my system adjusting to this new idea.

Whenever we are making changes in our lives, whether they are big or small, whether we think it’s a good change or a bad change, our systems get shaken up. As humans, we like to maintain equilibrium, to keep things the same. When we start to make changes, our ego – whose job it is to protect us – starts making noise.

Warning! Warning! Things are changing! We’re no longer in equilibrium. Pay attention!

Here are a few things that help me whenever this happens:

1.      I take some slow, deep breaths. When we get anxious our breathing becomes quick and shallow. This is part of the fight or flight response. By consciously changing my physical response, I can also change how I feel emotionally.

2.      I remind myself that both fear and excitement have the same chemical reaction in my body, and ask myself if I can choose to feel excited rather than anxious. Especially in my current situation, excitement is part of the equation. Yes, I have some fear about how things will all work out. But I’m also excited about this change.

3.      I don’t get attached to the anxiety. In the past, whenever I felt anxious I would search for the reason, and of course I could come up with a dozen of them. Searching for reasons I might feel anxious only perpetuates the feeling. Now I choose to notice and acknowledge the fear: “I’m feeling anxious,” but don’t get caught up in justifying that anxiety by looking for reasons to be fearful.

4.       I accept that anxiety is a by-product of making changes. It is natural and normal that when we step outside our comfort zone, that when we upset our equilibrium, our ego is going to try to get us to move back to where it is “safe.” I know that as I move through the change that I am making, this fear will eventually dissipate as I reach a new equilibrium point.

Stuck in the Fog? Use Your Foghorn!

A few days ago I awoke feeling like I was in a fog. Not that my head was fuzzy. Sometimes that can be a nice feeling. This was a feeling of not knowing my direction. Not being able to see where I was going.

I tend to be someone who gets an idea and then runs with it. Now I was in a place where I felt torn in many directions, but not really focused on any of them. I didn’t know which way to turn. It was extremely uncomfortable, and I’ll admit that I had a “meltdown.”

I felt so lost and alone; truly like being lost in the fog. In the past when I didn’t know what to do, I learned that surrendering to Spirit (or higher self) to guide me was all that I could do. I cried. I cried hard. I talked out loud about how lost and lonely and without direction I felt. About how miserable I felt.

When I felt cried out, I stopped and went about my morning business. I went for my morning walk, as usual. It was quite foggy, as it had been in Seattle for the past several mornings. As I walked, I could hear a foghorn out in Puget Sound.

It occurred to me that I should use my own foghorn to let people know I’m here, that I’m stuck in the fog.  Use my foghorn to ask them to help me navigate. Asking for help has never been my strong suit, and it definitely is an area of growth for me. Yet it felt like a relief once I realized I didn’t have to be lost in the fog all alone.

I belong to a private group on Facebook that consists of people who have taken Robert Holden’s Happiness or Success Coaching Certification classes. I knew these were people I could trust with my vulnerability.

So I posted in the group about how I was feeling lost and directionless. I immediately began getting thoughtful and heartfelt responses. Each and every post had something of value for me. Just seeing people respond to my request for help led to me feeling better. I realized that my surrender in my earlier “meltdown” was answered by hearing the foghorn on my walk, and realizing I don’t have to do this alone.

The next time that you’re lost in the fog, feeling alone and directionless, use your foghorn!