Saturday, September 4, 2010

Breaking Through Anxiety

Anxiety is that gut-clenching feeling that makes you want to scream in frustration, because there doesn’t seem to be any escape from the present predicament, be it about money, institutional morass or broken relationships. Remaining anxious leads to a downward spiral of increased anxiety, physical and mental ailments, anger, bad behavior and despair.
Changing the current context is critical to opening up one’s thinking to enable forward movement. Until you get a grip on your anxiety, it’s difficult, maybe impossible, to see opportunity when it comes your way. When you’re anxious, you are the opposite of an opportunity magnet.
For me, what works to break through anxiety is stepping back from the crevasse, breathing deeply, calming myself and taking stock. Practitioners of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) refer to “break state” as the act of changing the current emotional or physical context to enter a neutral state from which possibilities have the spaciousness to be encountered and developed.
Stepping away from your present state and turning in a new direction are essential first steps. That might mean going out for a walk or to a museum, writing haiku or baking bread. Learning something new builds neural connections. Refresh yourself like you refresh your computer screen.
“You've got to accentuate the positive
 Eliminate the negative
 Latch on to the affirmative”
Those words crooned by Bing Crosby capture what’s needed: Count your blessings and focus on possibilities versus enumerating your losses and reliving your disappointments. Look up and out. That’s where life’s possibilities exist.


PseudoPiskie said...

Three things I've learned. One is to look at the problem and ask what difference any outcome will make ten years from now. Another came from our parents, especially my father, who told us to rely on the idea that one door closing means another better one is opening if we are willing to see it and act on the opportunity.

The third deals with health. I'm either going to live or I'm going to die. If I'm going to die, well, we all are. I need to make the best of the time I have left and leave the worrying to God and the doctors. If I'm going to live, I need to make the best of the time I have left and leave the worrying to God.

We were blessed with wonderful parents who laughed. My brother and I still do. Anxiety is usually a very brief state for either of us.



How blessed you and your brother were by your parents and their wise messages. I've been blessed, too, by being created as someone who is innately optimistic.

We've been grappling with leading institutional change and transforming group anxiety into forward movement in our diocese. The conversations have been important to have, to speak our perceptions and our individual coping styles aloud.