Something happened. It did. I didn’t choose for it to happen and its bothering me. And then sometimes I get stuck. A feeling starts and it grows. I don’t want to feel it because it kind of feels like its taking over or suffocating me. It makes me feel like I have to focus on it. It doesn’t feel good. I want to change how I feel, but I’m feeling obligated to pay attention to what my mind is telling me. My mind races. My body hurts. I start to avoid things because they feel dangerous. I can’t stand how I feel. I grab for my toolbox. I throw open the lid of the tool box of things I know might change the feeling. I grab a bunch of tools. I choose them without thinking. I grab at irritability. I use it with the people around me. I yell and take it out on my kids. I grab at “having things exactly how I want.” I grab at organizing things and cleaning. I grab at “eating” even though I am not hungry. The tools work; they do, but just a little and only for a short time. My feeling of anxiety decreases for a moment, but then its back and with a vengeance. I grab another tool. Someone tries to help and I fight to make them back off. I want things a certain way. I want my house to be clean, my clothes to be folded. I want! Feelings grow and I feel powerless because the simplest things feel scary. My body screams. I refuse to do anything. I won’t go out. I won’t play with my kids. I push the dog away. My wife talks to me, tries to help and I have a big reaction. “Stop yelling I say.” Help feels dangerous. I’ve been here before. It didn’t work. I tried my best and I feel like I failed. No one should get yelled at. Its not who I am. I crumble. I hurt and I’ve hurt those around me. I’m stuck.

Or

Something happened. It did. I didn’t choose for it to happen and its bothering me. I can feel it. Anxiety grabs my attention. Screams! STOP LOOK. So I do. I stop. I notice it! I say hi! I remind myself that anxiety isn’t dangerous. I remind myself that anxiety is my friend. A guide. A flashlight in the dark that tells me there are important things I need to see. So I start. I’d rather notice things; find them – even if it takes some time. I’d rather learn something then let my mind drive my body till its screams and I hurt. I choose to be inquisitive and curious. If anxiety is present my soul or spirit or whatever you want to call it is noticing that there is something important for me here in this moment. I have to get back to the moment; to the right now. I need to get back to this second. I check in with my body. Feel for my toes. Stretch my arms. Touch my legs. Smell, listen, and feel. Jump if I need to. Run if I need to. Scream if I need to, but pay attention to how it all feels. Then I remind myself I am here in the “now.” Nothing dangerous is happening “now.” My mind keeps pulling me forward into the future, but that’s the future. It’s not happening right now so it can’t be dangerous. My mind keeps pulling me back into the past, but that’s done and I can’t change it. Its not happening right now either so that can’t be dangerous. What I have is this moment. I want to focus on “now” for a moment. I keep checking in with my body. Feel those toes, or arms. I push my fingers into things harder so I can feel them touch each other. I stomp my feet. Yes. There is my body. I will use it as my anchor to hold me here right now. Every time my mind jumps forward into the future with a spinning story with a hundred what if’s or backward with a thousand should of’s I pull on the anchor. I notice my body. I listen, look, and feel things that are right now. When I’m anchored. I look for my friend again. Even though I was focused on my anchor, anxiety hasn’t left. I can feel it in my stomach. I can feel it in my chest. I can feel it moving up into my jaw. So I make some space for those feelings. I’ve felt them before. I’m not going to push them away. I’m not going to fight them off. I’m going to accept that they are here and I have something to learn. Then I play detective. When did this feeling show up? What was I doing? Where did it start? In that space – the one where I am aware of the moment and anchored by feeling my body – I notice. That’s all. Notice what?

Its time to notice that anxiety showed up to grab my attention. Grabbing my attention means there is a nugget of truth in this moment for me. For my spirit or soul. There is something I need to be aware of so I can make some choices around it. I go back a little. Anxiety showed up when I had a lot to do. I felt overwhelmed. Then someone gave me something else to do and do it by tomorrow. I feel like it’s impossible to get it all done. I don’t feel like I can do any of it. Nugget: getting my work done and doing it well is important to me. Anxiety is here as my friend not to consume me or hurt me but to remind me I need to use my time wisely today.

With a nugget in my head I think about how to take some actions around using my time wisely. I know:
1. I work better in a coffee shop then at home
2. I work better listening to music then something that has talking
3. I work better with a list of things to get done
4. I work better when I am alone
5. I work better when my iPad is off
6. I work better when I have exercised and eaten properly.
Now I make my choices. I start doing those things. My mind pops up and tries to pull me away from some of them. It says “exercise will take to much time” or “your already tired.” I thank my mind, but stick to it. Anxiety showed up for a reason. Exercise it is. Check. Time for the next action. I am stuck between where to work. My mind shows up and reminds me I can do some chores and write reports at home. I thank my mind, but stick to it. Anxiety showed up for a reason. Starbucks it is. Check. Time for the next action. My mind shows up and tells me its time to get going. Grab the first report. Write it already! I thank my mind, but stick to it. Anxiety showed up for a reason. Creating a list it is. I make my list. The further I get into my actions – the ones that get me doing the things I know help me be productive at work – the less I feel my friend. I’m on the right track. I have momentum. Anxiety backs off till the next time when I am on automatic pilot and not aware that I’m missing something important to me.

In the end – if I am careful – I can see that anxiety is helping me to look past autopilot and see areas that are important to me; important to my soul. My mind often drives me to do things –without thinking – that push me away from who I actual am. These things don’t really line up –my mind and soul. I’m learning that its my soul I need to listen to. I’m learning that its important to stop when anxiety says “hi” and notice and learn. With this understanding when anxiety shows up I welcome it. Good you’re here. I have something to learn. When I learn it, I feel power. When I do and take action – by make choices based on my nuggets – I live more in line with who I really am.

It’s not that all my feelings go away. I still feel my anxiety. I am sad. I feel angry. BUT when those things come I welcome them with open arms and with a pleasant amount of curiosity I learn about me. A nugget here and a nugget there. Those nuggets spawn actions. I take do those actions a little more each day. Here in this spot, I am free.