Persistent worries do not come from nowhere. Our imaginations can take a fleeting thought and quickly blow it up into concern for a reason – the concern our imaginations tap into is already in us, waiting for a vulnerable moment to make itself known.
This is one of the things that can make it difficult to manage every day fears and concerns… while persistent worry isn't objective, or even based in fact (because worry is focused on something that may happen in the future) worry arises from the deepest part of us, the familiar, and that gives it a level of credibility that carries it further into our lives then we intend.
If you have ever taken your worry out for a cup of coffee, explored it as a companion sitting beside you (rather than an invisible force inside you) then you may have learned that worry has it roots in deep caring.
When we're overwhelmed an "over-ride" kicks in, and we find ways to disconnect ourselves from these persistent, invasive emotions (to give ourselves a break); sometimes by numbing out with TV, food, alcohol, etc.
The antidote? It is mindfulness. Mindfulness is about connection... re-connection to be specific. Mindfulness is innate, which means each of us is born with the ability to be mindful; that is to be in the moment.
This moment right here.
Not reactive or overwhelmed, but fully present occupying no other thoughts or actions other then to see this moment just as it is. It is a powerful way to re-connect to our lives, our loved ones and ourselves. Its free and ever-present; something you can practice anywhere.
While mindfulness is innate, it is also a choice; it is up to each of us to engage it. Mindfulness asks you to do nothing... with intention. Just sit. Listen to yourself. Really listen to yourself without getting attached to what you are thinking. Take some time for yourself to do this because mindfulness only gives, it never takes from you; it gives you more connection to yourself, to your body, to your loved ones, to your work.
You will be better able to face your fears, to see the “story” in what your worry is telling you. With this truth you can be discerning about what is real and what is not and compassionately address your fears. You will be more fully connected, a gift that only gives and is always there for you. Be present in your life, you are worthy of this gift.
Find resources to support mindfulness at http://www.loveyourworkinglife.com/mindfulness.html (in addition to the practice, there are smart device apps and other options listed at the bottom of the page).
Carleen helped me get to the bottom of my stress response cycle, and not it's not "the boss of me" anymore!"
Worry, hyper-focus, over-identification or anxiety; whatever you call it we all do it or have it from time to time.
Worry is something we all need, it’s what allows us to get the critical work done, to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and makes up a part of our conscience, keeping us our best self. But worry and anxiety are also energy sucking, joy-killing, life limiters when they are running the show.
Can you tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy worry?
Here is what healthy worry sounds like; “Oh, I’d better make sure I submit that report on time!”. And this is what unhealthy worry sounds like; “Oh, I’d better make sure I submit that report on time!”. See the difference? This is what makes it hard to understand when our worry is helping us, and when it is not. Worry has a couple of “friends” that turn a fleeting thought into fear. The first is imagination. A thought can come and go like clouds in the sky, impermanent. However, if there is something about a thought that triggers our mind to start thinking (like our imagination) it can take that thought and turn it into something else entirely; “Oh, I’d better make sure I submit that report on time! I don’t want to end up laid off from work like Sally, and everyone knows she was often late with her work. I can’t be out of a job right now, what would happen to my Mom? She depends on me to buy her groceries…” This takes a healthy worry and turns it into something else entirely: fear and anxiety.
The second “friend” that tags along with worry is rigidity. Rigidity takes those hyper-activated thoughts our imagination just handed us and makes them a call to action. You stay really late at work, hoping to get everything done (so you won’t be a target for lay off). Perfectionism, vigilance, judgment, or a fixation on one particular outcome are all versions of rigidity, because your imagination just sold you a story you are desperate to keep from happening. We’ve all been there, imagining the worst possible ending, getting up in the middle of the night to check on an e-mail or spreadsheet we submitted, and are now second guessing (“Was my tone too harsh? Did I get those figures right?”).
If you have overwhelming amounts of anxiety in your life, please consult a qualified health care provider to help you. Relief can begin by making the call for that appointment (my true story based on real events).
For the everyday items there are things we can do to keep worry from robbing us of well-being. The first step is to recognize when your mind has taken off with a thought; sometimes you can catch this in the act (preoccupation, clenched jaw, headache, etc.) and sometimes you see it after the fact. When you see it, take it out for a cup of coffee. Take worry out of your mind and sit it down like it is a person, have a conversation with it. In doing this (making it something you relate to outside of yourself) you are much more able to see it objectively, to ask questions and to become more compassionate with it and yourself. Then, you are more able to accurately see the difference between healthy and unhealthy worry and do something constructive with it.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” ~ Corrie ten Boom
I'm so glad I booked a Career Strategy call with Carleen. Choosing to work with her has been the missing puzzle piece to making my work life better!"
I’ve been contemplating feedback lately and the irony that the word has two meanings; to give/receive some form of praise or critique and the horrible ear-splitting noise that sound equipment emits when it's not properly set up. Feedback (in both senses of the word) has the effect of quickly grabbing our attention and creating a reaction or response. Feedback (again in both senses of the word) is also temporary.
As your career progresses, you become better at being able to receive feedback, but that doesn’t always mean you know what to do with it. Healthy feedback, delivered with compassion and with your best interests at heart has the opportunity to help you grow and develop in your pursuits. However, one person’s definition of “constructive feedback” may touch another person’s excruciating vulnerabilities (knowingly or unknowingly). I myself have spent weeks crafting a thoughtful summation of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, designed to enable collaboration on potential areas of development… and had it received with a visible flinch. Both the giving and receiving of feedback has lessons for all parties.
It can be hard to hear (or learn) about your weaknesses, either because you don’t want to know this about yourself, or because it means others can see the flaws you'd rather they didn't (sometimes it is both). The flip side of critique is praise; having someone recognize something you did as “well done” or “beyond expectations” is something you may crave. Oddly enough, you may receive praise with the same wariness you receive critique, not allowing it to really sink in because you may think this person is “just being nice” or because you fear the “new” standard of performance your success has just set. In many cases you'll remember critique, but not praise. Criticism has an “emotional weight” that is heavier than the perceived lightness of praise. So knowing that, would it surprise you to learn that over the great wash of time you are as likely to receive as much praise as criticism? What you chose to remember and let touch you may not be balanced, but they do equalize over time (track it for yourself and see, but be prepared to be objective and let each touch you in meaningful ways).
At the end of the day what other people provide as feedback to us, and how think about us, is fluid; it changes over time and offers insight into both the positive and negative aspects of our way of being. What you are left with then is…yourself. You cannot always change the way others experience or perceive you, because you do not control them, nor are you an expert on others (much as you may think otherwise from time to time). You are only in control of yourself, and you are also the expert on yourself too.
Acknowledging feedback (both positive and negative) is part distortion and part education. It requires you to be the steward of your own development, knowing what is objective and reasonable to consider, and what is not, allowing the right things to touch and influence you at the right time for the right reasons. Without both praise and critique you would have a difficult time discerning the right thing to do, it would be like walking in a blinding snowstorm with no reference points to guide the way. You need both praise and criticism to shed their different lights on something to allow you to see what is needed… the clear path becomes visible through their shadow and light, allowing you to see and walk through the world in your unique way.
Carleen and I worked together for three months and it's the best investment I could have made in myself. My work life isn't perfect but its a whole more rewarding now!"
Ever wonder why your body aches so much, even though you didn't do anything to deserve it? There's a simple explanation. Your body stores all it's experiences, and not just the physical ones, the emotional ones too. Where a great day can feel uplifting and energizing, a tough day can feel heavy and exhausting.
Your body knows this.
At the beginning of your day, things look great. Alarm goes off, routine is happening, and then, an unexpected disruption. You’re out of coffee. Your child is irrationally upset, or traffic is unreasonable, putting you behind schedule both factually and emotionally. You tell yourself to just keep going, there is a long list of responsibilities to get to today. You stuff the emotional side of things down in an effort to move forward, putting your time schedule back on track.
Ever wonder why parts of your body ache at work, even though you exercise regularly?
We’ve all done this, but have you ever wondered where the emotions you stuff go? They don’t just disappear. They are held as tension in some part of your body and as the day progresses those tensions add up. This shows up as tense muscles. Or mild indigestion, even though you didn’t eat anything irritating. Have you ever snapped at someone in an afternoon meeting (surprising you both)? Ever walked in the door at the end of a routine workday and wondered why you were so tired?
Over time, that tension adds up. This is what happens when you don’t acknowledge your feelings; the few simple seconds, and steps, it takes to acknowledge your feels, giving yourself loving kindness and compassion. Stuffing emotions has consequences, both mental and physical. Over time, that body tension adds up. The tension can dissolve; a pleasant surprise, a deadline aced, a compliment, a hug, an amazing fitness class or a walk with friends. However, if the tension going out isn’t keeping up with the tension going in, you end up with off and on aches, bouts of inflammation (hello Ibuprofen), and an energy crisis making it difficult to get to that walk, fitness class or date with your friends.
If this is ringing some alarm bells for you, take action. Eating right, moving your body intentionally everyday (and not just to walk to your car or to catch the bus) and getting enough sleep are all great strategies to support your well-being. So is listening to what your body is telling you. If you are white-knuckling your steering wheel on the way home, or clenching your jaw so often it hurts, check in with yourself. Sit quietly for a few minutes and listen in.
That lower back pain? It may be your sense of duty telling you to take some much needed “me time”. Your jaw ache may point to a conversation you need to have with you co-worker about including your ideas on the project you’re working on together. Mild tummy ache? Possibly you need a hug, or some quality time with a loved one. Once you know what to listen for, this doesn’t take very long (although it does need to be intentional), freeing both your emotions and yourself.
Working with Carleen I've learned to support my needs first. I was preparing myself to accept the consequences of this at work. Turns out, there were none as both my work and home life have now shown me that when I meet my needs, everything else just falls into place.