By Sally Bartolameolli & Kim Siongco,
Anxiety is a hot topic and for good reason. We are all dealing with an uncertain future, coping with massive changes in our world, and well, it seems the unknown will be with us for quite a while. When we honestly reflect on life, we might also acknowledge that the unknown and uncertain is consistently a part of life – whether or not our political climate is what it is or we have a world altering pandemic to contend with.
Therefore, how do we begin to deal with the unknown in life when its consequences affect our own effectiveness, or when anxiety becomes dominant in our day to day living?
As a leading expert in emotional intelligence work for over 30 years, I believe that the first step in dealing with any emotional challenge is to identify what we are feeling. We claim it. We name it. We transform the emotional energy into action.
For those who are new at identifying their feelings, I start with five basic categories:
Generally speaking, gender conditioning tells us that it’s okay for men to feel anger, not women. Woman can feel sadness, but not men. And, no one should feel afraid or fearful. We tend to be a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, get it done, and keep pushing forward” kind of society.
When it comes to anxiety, which I’ve come to think of as a bundle of unresolved emotions (especially fear), tied together in a muddle of everyday excessive worry and projection, both women and men are equal opportunity experiencers – often feeling stuck, unable to think clearly, or to act with intention and confidence. Fear becomes irrational and we become victimized by our own obsessive thinking. Whatever the nuances of defining anxiety might be, I believe the solutions are the same.
Here are practices to deal with those feelings of fear and anxiety that are not helpful in our everyday functioning and impact our sense of well-being:
1. Acknowledging the emotion/s and the desire for assistance is a first step. With awareness, we have more choices. Asking for help professionally or seeking new solutions of any kind, requires courage and maturity. In naming the anxiety and desire for help, we receive a sense of control and empowerment. Professional assistance and medications are there to help us. In addition, we can begin to seek our own solutions, taking responsibility for what we can do to care for ourselves and deal with the anxiety.
2. Breathing deeply and practicing meditation brings our mind and body together. Setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and training our minds to stay focused on our breathing is a simple place to start. Studies have shown that mindfulness benefits an array of physical and psychological aliments with anxiety at the top of the list. If quieting your mind seems too difficult, journal during this time. Take a pen or pencil to paper and keep it moving across the page for the time period set. Don’t edit. Just write. Keep your hand moving and notice the freedom that comes.
3. Become aware of your negative self-talk and re-align this energy. Our fears, anxieties, and overall “damaging, yucky feelings” come from our thoughts. What are we telling ourselves? Once we notice and name our negative self-talk, we are able to take another deep breath and do something helpful – re-align this energy by asking what does this energy really want for me? Now, we trust the most loving, intuitive response that comes to us. Learning to re-parent parts of ourselves that may be living out of old messages is necessary. Once the most loving, kind, and compassionate answer comes to us through our higher self or a spiritual connection, we can take action that supports our highest good and greatest service.
At LORA Bridges, Leadership, Openness, Results & Awareness, we call this practice ARC~ Awareness, Re-Alignment & Commitment with a training in learning to identify our intuition and switch the self-predating energy that is unhelpful into a more useful & loving energy.
This training is much like Acceptance and Commitment therapy, which is a psychological intervention using similar mindful techniques and combines with behavioral changes.
4. Seek a spiritual solution. In 12-step spirituality support circles, we are reminded that there is always a spiritual solution. This does not mean that we don’t seek medical or professional assistance, or take responsibility for ourselves physically, emotionally, financially, and in all areas of lives. But, it does mean that having a spiritual practice, and believing in a divine source of benevolent care, whatever that might be for any individual, is an essential life tool that provides comfort and, at times, a right direction to take.
Seeking a spiritual solution does not diminish our personal responsibility. It enhances our lives, reminding us we are not alone, there are actions we can take to nourish our spirits, and that once we do our part, we can rest and release an outcome to a benevolent source of divine care.
At LORA Bridges we empower transformation for the purpose of building bridges.