So last blog, we put anxiety under the spotlight, and as Tudin so aptly described “It switches on when it thinks you’re in danger, so really it’s like your own fierce warrior, there to protect you. It’s job is to get you ready to run away from the danger or fight it.”
So if I were to ‘reframe’ it, as we coaches are so fond of doing, I would see it as my fierce protector, rather than something to be feared in itself.
So this round I promised some strategies. And the first step is recognising the beast. It’s something I’ve emphasised with my tween and teen sons; the language of feelings. With the emphasis on Jung’s ‘thinking brain’ in our organisations, the corridors of ‘feeling’ seem reserved for HR and other so-called ‘soft’ options. And yet time and again,
the clients who get in touch with their ‘feeling’ brain, are the ones who impact their organisations the most,
and there’s no surprise in empathy being identified as the key leadership skill for the 21st century.
So first off, we need to identify what we are feeling and possibly where in the body we are feeling it, to ‘name and claim’ it. So constriction in the chest or fluttering in the tummy may be familiar descriptions.
Step two is to externalise the anxiety; to recognise that it is a part of me, but doesn’t define me. So with younger kids we can ‘give it a name’ and yet I’ve had some success with adults naming it too. It need not be a negative term, but simply a different identity such as Annie or Aqeel.
Now unlike most of my clients’ lives, ‘Annie’ doesn’t think.
She is a doer and merely pitches up when we may least expect her.
So we acknowledge that she is there and that she is our warrior princess. But truth is, we may not need her at that point and can safely reassure her that it’s okay, ‘we’ve got this’.
My former proam dance partner constantly repeated his mantra of, “we’ve got this” to me, and in hindsight I think I now know why; he did enough chanting to banish both my Annie and his Aqeel!
A parallel strategy is deceptively simple and that is to harness the power of the breath.
I’m hopeless at mindfulness, much less meditation,
but I am learning for just a moment, to use the breath to tell my body that it is okay – 3 conscious breaths will do it.
And finally I enlist the front part of my brain, that neuroscience is so fond of quoting, that prefrontal cortex to state the facts of the situation. To use it as my advocate, to remind me of the objective facts, rather than interpretations coloured by my lenses of experience.