I’ve been asked my by colleague and friend Kenneth Clifford to contribute to his blog and the Portsmouth counselling practice with a series of blogs on either neuroscience or anxiety. You can see I chose something far more practical. 4-5 people in my annual leadership programme of 40 candidates faces and struggles with anxiety in moderate form, 1-2 severe and the rest will come in touch with it in one way or another. So being practical, and having years of experience dealing with my own, I said yes. And I got a good friend Mark, a professional photographer to contribute beautiful photos to the series.
Here’s Part 1 digest – you can read the full blog on Ken’s site.
What is Anxiety
It comes like a dark cloud out of nowhere and before you know it your heart is going mad as your mind detects what seems like a pounding pulse. I know a great deal about anxiety because I experience anxiety, manage it and work with other people that need to manage it as their coach. My first encounter with anxiety was back when I was doing my PhD though there were earlier signs I only now understand. One night during my PhD work, my body actually flipped and I ended up having to be rushed to the emergency room what to my rational mind looked like a heart attack. After an x-ray and other examinations I was discharged with that slightly unsatisfactory diagnosis for a person who clearly does not feel ‘ok’ – “We can’t find anything physically wrong with you.” It simply didn’t make sense.
Recently I took part in a week-long Ayurvedic healing retreat. It was like coming home after years of patient work reading, trying things out and carefully readjusting my lifestyle. What the retreat helped me acknowledge is how far I’ve come along since those Pasadena CA days, when my body needed to take a massively drastic act – execute a complete shutdown – before I heard its voice and complaint about having more balance.Back then, the experience puzzled me and angered me in equal measure. I saw no reason why my body was in effect becoming an obstacle to my ambitious pursuits instead of being my friend.
Working hard and delaying fun times was a way to ‘get through it’ and come out at the other end. I found it difficult to switch off thoughts until I learned mindfulness, presence, acceptance or patience. Today, working with others as a coach and therapist, I see in front of my eyes their own blindness to a life style that is out of balance just like mine was. Life that can’t possibly produce healthy lasting results.
It is easy after all to take life just a tad too seriously when we attach ourselves to something we want. Just as in my case, for many of the people I see in my coaching practice, joy, laughter, play, fun slowly but surely slip away like guests at a bad party. There’s often “no time”. Everything becomes goal-oriented and another task. Excuses are made about how it’s only for a short while, the next results, promotion, 10Lbs lost etc. But better times never come from this sort of thinking and lifestyle.
Reduce Anxiety Through Acceptance
Now I know that anxiety is mainly a resistance to accept things as they are or to face deep truths and work through them. This is best done when we’re not in crisis but it does require courage. The price we get for investing time in personal development however is well worth it: our mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health. You see, I strongly believe that our minds are wonderful healers when we let them speak to us from our deeper wisdom. This wisdom requires that we can connect with our hearts and our spirit. Under those healthy circumstances, our minds produce wonderful, empowering and healthy thoughts.
In this series I will be sharing with you what I learned through my own experience.You may be reading this blog because you are dealing with anxiety. But I hope these articles will also help you avoid anxiety if you have not yet experienced it. You see, I do think anxiety is really our friend. It is a healthy mechanism our minds use to help us cope with our environment. All we have to do is engage with it instead of running away from it.
Part 1 – common signs/symptoms of anxiety, how to track them and what to do when they show up will appear next week. I’ll send an update via Twitter.
I hope you will join in and share your stories and experiences.
You can do this by leaving a comment on the blog, connecting with me on Twitter
We learn most from talking with one another. What’s your view?
If you’re needing to manage your anxiety my first book Get Productive! offers a few useful exercises for this.
Try these sections:
- “Emotional palette” page 93
- “4 cylinders” page 10
- “Fear Safety Net” page 108