Tag: mental health

Thriving

Thriving Through Anxiety

I stress about stress meme

Stress.

I think I often talk about thriving through anxiety because I understand its weight. I know the opposite first hand. It can be all consuming, painful and overwhelming. Buried under the idea that having anxiety indicates that there is something wrong with me, I feel alone, worried (ironic, I know), and defeated. Add some physiological components and I know there is something wrong. My chest tightens, I feel hot and I start to clench my jaw. Tension builds and climbs my neck until my head begins to pound. My breathing changes. Then everything feels dangerous. Defeated and tense; perfect start. Finally, there is this thing my mind does all by itself. Once there is one problem, my mind seems to forge ahead into everything else I can possibly imagine being a problem. My mind races into all sorts of potential issues, my body reacts and I suffer. As the meme says: I stress about stress causing me to stress.

Where is the thriving piece?

A few years ago I was introduced to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I started my research in ACT under the pretence of expanding my toolkit for work. I left having found the opportunity for healing created through a shift in things like perspective, awareness and willingness. ACT’s perspective on thriving is as follows: It’s hard to be human. Given that I have what I have, am I willing to have it? Here and now, in this time and place? And given those, still do what’s important to me? ACT calls these the three ideas pillars: Open, Aware and Engaged.

For me, the ironic part is that I went to my first ACT workshop in hopes of getting better at my job (and I did), but I keep going back again and again because these pillars, tenets, or ideas have given me the space to be me with some compassion for what it means to be human. It’s hard. They have also given me a place to fight for the life I want, one choice at a time. Here they are in my understanding….

Open. Am I willing to have what I have?

It’s hard to be human. This is an earth shattering and understated notion I was oblivious to. For so long, I bought into the idea that my experience was indicative that there was something inherently wrong with me. I was the problem. The feelings I had, the struggles, the experience, they were not only unique to me, but also a result of something that was wrong with me. Me; I was (am) the problem.

This left me in a fight against my own experience. When I felt sad, I assumed others didn’t. When I struggled, I assumed others didn’t. I began to fight to suppress my own thoughts and feelings. Anxiety would spike and I would work quickly to numb the feelings or escape the situations that created them. Slowly I ate (quite literally) many of my own feelings and experiences. And it worked.

It was a miraculous short term gain with grave long term loss. Still, in the moment, it gave me the power to control how I felt, so I mindlessly ate. When I was eating I felt good. Standing on the scale or putting on jeans was a different story.

Openness and Acceptance.

ACT’s idea of openness is around the idea of acceptance. Are you willing to have what you have (all those difficult thoughts and feelings) since you already do, and learn to hold them a little lighter – with some measure of compassion – rather than getting entangled in them? By not allowing my difficult emotions and thoughts to dictate my actions. And not trying to fight to not feel or think something. It means being kind to myself in the presence of my own struggle. ‘Held lighter’ means sitting in the middle between the desire to drown my emotions in a bag of cheesies or bottle of wine or run away. Sitting in the middle means allowing my emotions to come and go without judging them. I approach my own experience with a little more curiosity. In that place something brilliant happens.

 

I learn a little more about me.

 

I’ve learned the most amazing things about me sitting in the middle with a little openness and curiosity. I have learned what makes me me. When I am sad and don’t drown the feeling or run, there is a small nugget of truth revealed. I can tie my sadness to something that’s important to me. Anxiety pops up in the middle too. Anxiety screams, “STOP we have been here before, and we are here again.” It grabs our attention yelling, “You’re about to act like you did last time and that didn’t work out so well for us. Choose. Be careful.” See, we struggle where we value. If something causes pain, anxiety or hurts, it’s a measure of something deeply connected to who we are and what we want our lives to be about. That’s not what’s wrong with me. That’s what’s right about me. This belief requires a shift in perspective.

Everything you've ever wanted, is one step outside your comfort zone.

Take a step!

In the presence of these emotions, I shift into a place of openness. I want to feel. I want to learn. This feeling is my ammunition for tomorrow. If I am aware, feeling empowers me to know more about who I am and what I want my life to be about. If I am open, I begin to understand the things that are most uniquely me. They are measured in glimpses of happiness, pain, sorrow, regret and richness. They feed little nuances of unique information about who I am and how I want to act in the future. They empower me.

 

Aware.

Awareness is twofold. One, it’s the ability to see ourselves as we actually are, rather than some construct or perception we have of ourselves. This is a major shift. We hold tightly to rules from our history. Rules formed to explain difficult situations become the reasons why we can’t or why we have to. We hold tight to these rules and they motivate us to behave. These actions usually exacerbate our own struggle and feed the rules. I call them tapes.

They tend to pop up in difficult moments and explain why what happened happened. “Nate, if you weren’t so stupid. Nate, that’s how fat people act. Nate, you need to realize that’s just the way you are.” NO! These tapes are echoes of my history; even measures of difficult moments, but I want to be careful not to let my perception of who I am become me.

This requires a little more willingness to examine the rules and explanations without acting on them. It requires me to be a little more engaged in being aware of what’s happening in the outside world rather than allowing an inside world to explain everything.

The second piece of awareness is really about where I am living. Anxiety drags the pain of the past into the present in anticipation of some horrible future. So much of this is who we are. We are either living in the past – regretting things we have done – or dreading what will happen in the future. In both measures we are failing to live. The past is done and the future is never attainable. The only place we can live is in the now. One single second at a time. I can’t tell you how freeing this has been for me. I am responsible for now. That’s it, that’s all. If there are measures of pain of the past or dread of the future, I tie them to what’s important and do the next thing I can in the service of those. Here and now.

Engaged.

So much of the previous two – openness and awareness – can, when we are off (i.e. closed and unaware,) leave us flailing endlessly in life without meaning and purpose. Engaged is about understanding what your values are and committing to goals in the service of those values.

Values aren’t achievable to completion, but rather more reflect qualities that we want our life to be about. Like authenticity, for example. Authenticity isn’t something I can buy, but rather something that is built. I am more authentic when I am honest. My goal then becomes building a more authentic life through action. The freeing thing I alluded to in the past paragraph is that this doesn’t have to be this huge or overwhelming thing. If authenticity, my value and my goal, is being honest; I’m obligated to take the next opportunity to be honest. That’s it. One choice at a time, being deliberate about my goalsI begin to build what I want.

The most empowering thing about these pillars is they give me a template to understand my own existence and take a practical approach to changing who I am.

YOUR TURN. Are you ready to thrive? Start here.

Open.  Are you willing to have the emotions you have, while not fighting them and be curious enough to learn from them? They are directly tied to what your values are. They feed the understanding of what your life would be like if you got to choose it (and you can, if you are careful.) What are your strongest emotions? What are they tied to? Can you see the relationship between how you feel and what’s important?

Aware.  Are you willing to measure what’s actually going on here and now with some awareness and curiosity rather than listening to old tapes of why you feel or think things are happening? Can you live in this moment, rather than in the past or the future, one choice at a time?

Engaged.  Are you willing to act deliberately to build the life you want one choice at a time? Engaged means being aware of our values, attaching those values to actions that are doable and finding the next moment to build that into our life. Each deliberate choices builds until change begins to cascade around us.

What freedom exists when you understand that your emotions indicate your values are in play and can – if we are careful- enable us to build – one action at a time – the life we want. This is about us.

C.S. Lewis wrote: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.

Here, in this moment, I choose to be aware of the beginning and allow it to educate me about myself. That understanding means that what I do in the next moment is something in service of the end I want. That’s thriving. That’s freedom. That’s epic.

 

 

If you want to hear more, please register for ‘Thriving Through Anxiety’ now rescheduled for April 14th, 2018. Registration information to come!

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 can’t not.

We’ve all been there: Exhausted from the day, barely awake and functioning in an upright position, surprised we can execute the final tasks to shut the day down. Our heads hit the pillow with some amount of glee that the day is finally over and we can sleep! Precious sleep. Less then we want, but it’ll have to do. And then it doesn’t come. Not even close, not even at all. Time creeps on minute by minute as we begin to realize with a reasonable amount of dread that sleep is not going to happen. We are no longer tired. Not even a little bit. In fact, the brain seems to have amped up to some new level of hyper-drive in the quiet and the dark in an effort to capitalize on the down time – now that we aren’t busy with everything else that plagues us during the day– and find a solution to every problem our brain can possibly conceive. Lucky me, cause my brain never picks the easy stuff. I rehash and regurgitate the best of things that tend to fall into two categories:

1. Things I’ve done and didn’t like the outcome in – the past

2. Things I need to do – the future

My mind churns on, as it races from one thing to the next in a marathon like effort to conceive of every probable solution and /or outcome to things I’ve already done or am going to do.

So the question comes “How do you quiet a racing mind?”

In all likelihood – if you are at all like me – your mind races like this during the day to. You’re just too distracted to notice it. When your head finally hits the pillow and you want to sleep your awareness changes. You are no longer distracted by all the stuff you’ve been juggling. In the dark and quiet, you are blown away by the capacity of your brain to run away with itself like a hamster on a serious dose of steroids.

There are a series of things here.  More than a few I guess.

Not thinking is a practice and not an easy one. Typically, we call it meditation. Focused attention. Training the person to be in charge of their own mind with deliberate focus and awareness. The brain is a bit of an egotistical narcissist. It doesn’t not want to be working; nor does it want you to direct it. (But you can!) Learning to focus on something else can be helpful. This isn’t a practice I use just during the night, I use it any time I feel overwhelmed. I tend to focus on my breathing (and I am not alone). Breathing doesn’t stop. It’s there as a constant point where I can focus my attention and awareness. I shift my awareness from my thoughts and problems to the feelings and sensations that occur in the process of breathing. Something I usually ignore because my brain’s got that part of me on autopilot (and a good thing to!). Feeling the air come in through my nostrils, my lungs inflate and slowly letting the air back out. I pay attention to as many of the feelings as I can feel. As my mind wanders I pull it back. Not with a rebuke for losing focus, but simply an opportunity to redirect. The more I practice not thinking and feeling what I can feel in my chest the more my mind lets go of its attempt to capitalize on this quiet. It’s not easy, it takes time and practice, but its highly effective. So a short answer might be, one of the main things I do is not think, but feel breathing. In and out. Focused attention till my mind gives up its fight to dominate my night.

I also play with some other things at least initially when I struggle to sleep because I’ve learned that what creates anxiety in me is related to what’s most important to me. To me, then, there is also an opportunity for me to be aware that one of two things is happening:
1. I did / experienced something and I didn’t like how it turned out. I want to think about it a bit. Typically, if it’s coming back than it means I’d change something if I could. But I can’t. It’s in the past. Doesn’t matter how far back it is, its lost. However, I have found incredible freedom in the idea of next time. I can’t go back, but I can go forward and change the very next opportunity that’s similar by doing what I would have done – if I could have changed things. That’s it. So when I am stuck rehashing something from the past I will evaluate what it was that bugged me and promise myself I will carry it into the future: till next time.

nexttime
2. Something is coming down the pipe that I am having a hard time coping with and feeling calm about. These things that are vying for my mind at night are things that need attention during the day. For example, lying awake at night thinking about money does nothing to change my finances. But we mindlessly make tonnes of financial decisions all day long. Take a lunch or buy it. That’s a financial decision. Make it a combo or not. That’s a financial decision. There are tonnes of them everywhere. If you are lying awake at night thinking about money you need to take action during the day in every little area possible. I am speaking at a conference next month. That’s the one that keeps vying for my attention at night. It means I have to take action around it. Not everything we think about we can control, but there are things within it that we usually can. Like when I worry about my aging parents or relatives. I can’t control that -their aging- but it means that they are important to me. My values. So I play with the things I can control. Time invested in them. Now. What’s important to me is that there is in
formation related to my values that gets caught up in what keeps me up at night. I want some time with it – at least a little- so that I can learn and grow. It is me keeping me up after all.

The final thing I would do is something I do daily: Exercise. There is a direct relationship between how the body feels img_6215and what our brain is doing. As anxiety builds in our lives it builds tension in our muscles. The same systems utilized to save us in crisis are in play. The issue in most anxiety based situations is that we don’t do enough to let that anxt out. There isn’t enough of an outlet. So that energy is stored as tension. A tight chest says to the brain “you are in danger; get ready for more danger.” So the brain looks for it. It’s called a feedback loop. The brain scours your world looking for danger. At night – when you are laying there trying to fall asleep it can’t find a lot outside your thoughts – things you’ve done or are going to do. So that’s where it parks. A relaxed chest signals to the brain “things are okay.”
Exercise is my choice to use that anxiety based energy I seem to have in spades in a positive fashion. If I don’t I find that my mind tends to pick up all sorts of shrapnel from the past and near and distant future and pull it repeatedly into my mind. I know you can’t go for a run at night, but exercise is my proactive effort at calming and regulating my body. I do it as much as possible.

If I can feel the tension at night, then I’ll turn to some diaphragmatic breathing (deep, slow breathing that makes the diaphragm contract). Deliberate breathing involves expanding the chest muscles by inflating and deflating the lungs. By expanding the chest muscles (opening and closing them repeatedly) for a period of time, we relax the chest. This counters the message that a tight chest sends to the body. A relaxed chest signals to the brain “things are okay.” Deep breathing breaks the feedback loop we talked about above. That means in the moment, when anxiety is growing we can settle it down with breathing deep and deliberately for about 8 minutes.
Well that’s a lot longer than I anticipated and probably out of the order that I practice on a regular basis. So here would be my short and ordered version. To deal with a racing mind I:
1. Exercise daily. I get my butt kicked so my body is calm and my brain quiet.
2. Spend some time with the thoughts that are plaguing me so I learn my next times and where my choices should fall tomorrow for taking action.
3. Focus on breathing. I do my not think, but feel breathing routine.
4. Finally, if my chest is tight (and I can feel it) and my mind on fire I will square breath (google it) for 8 to 10 minutes to calm my mind and relax my chest. Then I am back at #3 focusing on more regular breathing.

I’ve lost nights, but I don’t fight them anymore. I feel my breathing and focus there. Slowly my mind has let go and given in to letting me sleep. Usually. It’s a practice.

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