Tag: life

Anxiety: What can I say?

What can I say? I didn’t get what I wanted, but what I needed.


I was placed in a job where I learned how to create support for children in need. I saw their struggle, their needs and the behavior that came with it. I was given the skills to help meet those needs, so I did.  My compassion for the broken grew exponentially.  I carried more and more until I started to sink under the weight of the suffering of those around me. It got too heavy. There was so much pain.  Barely able to keep myself afloat I struggled.  In the midst of that struggle I met a young man with significant anxiety. Maybe I saw some of me in him.  Maybe it was just the rawness of his pain.  I dug in and fought to find a way to create a safe place for him. In that journey I was given the grace to not only find the way to make a safe place for him, but also to see my own humanity, and suffering and build compassion for who I am and where I’ve been. Now while continuing to work with students with needs I make it my responsibility to share my story to end the silence on anxiety and open a conversation on who we are, why it’s so hard to be human and how we can thrive in the midst of all this suffering.


At this point in my life I don’t hate my anxiety.  I don’t even really dislike it. I know for many – in the midst of how anxiety can feel and it’s weight – that’s hard to hear, but there is another choice.  Maybe anxiety is not what’s wrong with us.  Maybe it’s what we do when we are anxious that impacts our lives.  Maybe a shift in our own awareness, our perception and the things we do is enough to create some space where anxiety isn’t a monster, but rather a guide that pulls me – if I am careful – into the richness of our own experience.  It’s hard to be human, but that’s not what’s wrong with me.  It’s hard to be human for all of us.


My goal for these two sessions is that I can share aspects of my story, the science of anxiety and enough practical supports to facilitate an opportunity for change.  These workshops are designed so that you will leave understanding enough about anxiety to make changes in your own life or someone close to you.  There will be direct applications for our kids, our teens and our clients.



Session One November 7th (7 to 9:30ish)

After Session One You will leave Understanding:

  1. What Anxiety is
  2. How it Effects the Mind, Body and our Behavior (What it motivates and why that’s a problem)
  3. How it Starts and How it Grows
  4. What it Means in our Lives
  5. Where we Start Building Support


Session Two November 14th (7 to 9:30ish)

After Session Two You will leave understanding:

  1. The Connection Between Anxiety and Exercise
  2. The Importance of Calm
  3. Getting Back into our Lives
  4. Value-based Living
  5. The Importance of Connection



Important Info:

The sessions will take place at 20639 123rd Avenue in Maple Ridge, BC

To join us, please click on the “Contact Us” tab and sign up.

The cost is $25/session or $40 for both sessions. Payment can be made at the door.

All it takes is one step

Our first Anxiety Workshop







I only have so much…

I seem to jump into all sorts of things that aren’t really mine.  I also find myself jumping into things that I could easily stay out of.

For example: I’m driving down the road and someone cuts me off, honks cause I’m slow or almost hits me as they turn without signalling.  In that moment I have every right to react, shout, stomp or swear.  I can and sometimes I do.  My issue is always afterwards.  Even if I give the guy a dirty look, shake my finger at him or give him a piece of my mind, it’s never done there.  I can’t leave it there. My mind picks it back up again and again and I ruminate on it.  My mind spins rapidly trying to change how I acted, reacted, won or lost something in that moment.  My mind wants me to go back and do it again but more perfect this time.  It wants me to assert justice and pass down a warranted punishment on the refuse that offended me.  Yet, I find myself hours later picking up the same regurgitated scenario to rehash – again- for a different possible outcome that is impossible. Time has moved on.  I cannot go back.  I am regurgitating something that is untouchable, unchangeable and unfixable hoping that I can fix it. I work myself into a frenzy and suffer.  It hurts all over. I beat myself up for the woulda-coulda-shoulda’s that weren’t.  I do thousands of if / then’s I’d’s. And I work myself further into a frenzy and I suffer. Since multiple things tend to happen in the same day (or commute for that matter) I can get to the end of a day or drive with a multitude of regurgitating scenarios that leave me reeling into the night. I CAN’T SLEEP because I am reliving – over and over- what I should have done different to deal with that thing…. And I suffer.


With a measure of awareness, I begin to realize that the outcome of all of these situations seems to be the same: no matter what, once I am in, I end up suffering.  So I started asking myself.  “How do I not get in?  How do I stay out?” If no matter what I do the end result is suffering, why do it at all?  It’s like willingly signing up to punch yourself in the face repeatedly. Hmmm, can I opt out with a no Thank you….pretty please?” I don’t want it.  I don’t need it.  I have enough on my plate already.  So how can I not? Cause really I always seem to be picking up the pieces and living with regret.
8fdb82ad0ac4651d05d22cd9a8cef77dIn a book called Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (an epic book by the way), there is a quote by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer that resonates profoundly with me “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” I’ve been choosing what’s right for far too long with no evaluation to what’s kind to you – or even kind to me for that matter.  Don’t get me wrong there are things worth fighting for in terms of right vs wrong, but there are also myriads of things that I pick up daily in an effort to fight for justice that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things that aren’t kind and result in me suffering. It’s those that I need to learn to set down.


So what’s kind?  Kind is not putting myself through things I don’t need to go through. Kind is not engaging in behaviour automatically that will result in me thinking and rethinking about what I chose and they chose.  Kindness is not picking everything up. Kindness is awareness that picking some stuff up means I suffer and you suffer. Kindness is leaving some things well enough alone – even though I’m right! Kindness is only picking up what I have to. Kindness is saving myself for the right moments.

In a world full of suffering our resources are already taxed.  We only have so much.  When I jump into certain things I spend – invest in – give-away energy that I don’t have. I spend it on things that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t matter at all.  We are so selective with many things: organic or not; local or not, fashionable or not.  We read labels, check ingredients and choose.  But when it comes to what we invest our energy in, how we behave, our very essence, not so much. Sometimes we are all in – without thought – over things that don’t matter at all in the big picture.  Being all in everywhere always saps your ability to invest in the things that truly do matter.  So I don’t.  I flat out refuse. How? I start by paying attention.

Instead I’ve started to think about what my brain gets stuck on.  What do I ruminate on? What can’t I put down? What keeps me up? When I’m stuck I take note.  Freaking out over getting cut-off. Noted. Thinking about driving my car into you to correct your asinine road skills. Noted.   The way I talked to… Noted. That thing that kept me up… Noted. Noted. Noted. Once I start to pay attention I realize there’s a plethora of moments. What’s cool is, I usually get a warm wash of icky anxiety hitting me as I step into one of these moments. It shows up to, albeit not so subtly, remind me I’ve been here before and I, me, this guy didn’t like how I acted. So it’s here, in these moment, begging me to pay attention and to help me choose – if I am willing.

Now as anxiety washes over me as I start an argument, start to react to tailgating or social ineptitude I welcome it – anxiety – and stop to think about what I am about to pick up – a bucket full of suffering – and if I am careful I can gently set it back down.  I’ve got enough.  I don’t need it or want it when it doesn’t matter. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m learning to set things down that aren’t mine and act in kindness for both me and you.

At the end of the day it leaves for more for other things.  I can care deeper, longer and better about the things that matter because I’m holding lighter, setting back down, the things that don’t matter. Got my order wrong? Okay. I’m good. Adamant we need to do it this way or I can’t do that. Okay. I’m good. Curt with me. Yep I heard it, but I ain’t picking it up.  I got bigger fish to fry and a heart that can only hold so much.  I want it full of what warms my soul and hurts my heart, not trash that clutters my vision so I can’t see what’s important.

What are you picking up that you don’t need to? Note it. Next time set it down before you are elbow deep in suffering that was optional. You can choose. Just saying.

A light at the end of the tunnel?

Several years ago I listened as Steven C. Hayes described anxiety. He used the metaphor of being lost in a dark forest.  This I get. I can imagine what my mind would do alone, in the dark, surrounded by foreign shapes and sounds: freak out. And then my body would follow right behind. Then Hayes continued, anxiety is like the flashlight. It leads and guides. It shines through the dark and shows you where to go. And this I don’t get. I hadn’t found that anxiety was leading. Rather I found it to be  terrifying. It felt horrible, affecting my mind, body and soul. It shut me down. Yes, I felt like I am lost in the forest. I had no sense of where I am and I felt like I am the reason I was lost. I was the problem.  Yes I have a flashlight, but mine didn’t work. The lens was smashed and the batteries were dead.   Rather than leading me, I felt like I was stuck lugging it around and it felt like it’s the cause of all my problems. I didn’t like my anxiety– what was wrong with me?flashlight_in_the_dark

Sitting here three years later I understand, I not only get it, but I also live it. So what changed?

Perspective for one.  I understand I am not alone. I have anxiety, so do you. We all do. If we didn’t we’d be dead. I can’t not have anxiety. Its universal. Anxiety is not what’s wrong with me.  It’s my perspective on emotion.  I’ve been socialized? Shaped? To believe that if I feel anxious, sad, angry there is something wrong with me. Yet how can I not?  There is so much suffering in this world. How can I be aware, part of this world, and not feel?  I’d have to be a sociopath to not. And yet we pretend. We hide our feelings and for the most part automatically blame ourselves for feeling what we feel. We fight to not feel it, it gets worse, and we feel alone so we fight harder. We try to get rid of them.

The alternative? Stop fighting.  Stop trying to get rid of those feelings. Your emotions aren’t what’s wrong with you. Rather, it’s the perception that we shouldn’t have them and that if we do there is something wrong with us. Instead, having them means there is something rather human about us. Having emotions means that there is something normal about us. Having feelings means we are alive, and that there are things that are important to us.  Instead of fighting them, I’m working on being aware. This has started with some simple labelling “I am feeling [x]” and some curiosity to what’s going on or what I am thinking about. In sitting in this place – staying with my own emotion and experience rather than trying to get rid of it– I begin to become aware of things that are important to me. I begin to see my own life through my own emotions who have stopped me here in this moment and grabbed my attention. For this I am grateful.

Here is what used to happen.  A feeling would show up. I’d automatically perceive it as an indication that I was broken, wrong and different. I’d try to get rid of it by fighting to not have it. It would get worse and I’d grab at a myriad of things I’ve used in the past to self soothe (I tell people I got fat the old fashion way) or avoid. In eating or drinking or ??? I’d squash the feeling, at least for a moment. In doing so I lost some part of my own experience. I’d sabotaged or betrayed myself in the name of feeling comfortable and pretending to be like everyone else; pretending that everything’s okay when it’s not.  In doing so I take a step away from myself and take a step towards something that has the potential for becoming a problem.  Cope by eating every once and a while and you’re okay. 10,000 choices in and we have a problem; rather an addiction. I automatically – that is without thinking or awareness – grab at self-soothing behaviour.

Now in sitting with emotion, better yet simply not thinking its what’s wrong with me, I have the chance to learn from it.  Emotion shows up in important moments, pulling me out of the automatic-ness with which I usually exist and grabs my attention. It says “hey! Look! pay attention! You have been in a place similar to this before and this moment is important.” Important maybe because you choose to self soothe or important maybe because how you acted was not in alignment with who you are or want to be.

In this, emotions guide.  They show up in places where our values are in play and prompt us to pay attention to the moment and opportunity that is present here. Now. In that moment I am given a choice.  I am given the opportunity to choose something that is in line with my values or self soothe. Choice. In that there is the power to change. And just like the self-soothing behaviour becomes addictive and destructive 10,000 choices in, so does value based living on the opposite extreme.   10,000 choices in, I am in a place where my emotion: my sadness, my anxiety, my grief have shaped me into who I really am not who the world has shaped me to mindlessly become.  For this I am grateful.  I am not 10,000 choices in, but I am on a journey and happy to have my emotions show up, slow me down or even stop me and remind me to pay attention.  Steven was right. Emotions are a light, if you are willing to sit in the dark for long enough to see why they are present.

Anxiety: Take the first step


Thanks so much for visiting our website! We are busy getting everything ready to go for our next workshop and would love to have you join us. I know that when you have anxiety, maybe the thought of attending a workshop will seem scary and bigger than you. But please rest assured that this is a journey we will take together.

To give you an idea of what happens at my workshops, I like to ensure that my audience is comfortable. I share a lot from my life and struggles as well as from my experiences in helping kids with behaviour issues. I think it’s important for my audience to know that any workshop I do is for you. It’s not about me. This is your opportunity to take something away that can help you take some first steps.

Anxiety works hard to make your world smaller, and it’s hard to take steps outside of that. When I first started doing anxiety workshops it was incredibly difficult. It was a hard first step to take, but I’ve met so many amazing people and I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favourite authors:

“I think being vulnerable feels dangerous, and I think it feels scary, and I think it’s terrifying. But I don’t think it’s as dangerous, scary, or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and wondering, what if I would have shown up?” – Brene Brown

I look forward to meeting you guys in September!


~ Nate

All it takes is one step

All it takes is one step