Welcome to the second issue of Hey Shrink: Psychological Zingers for Better Living, Working and Wellbeing. This issue continues with anxiety and focuses on expanding awareness of both the consequences and possible benefits of anxiety to provide you with a roomier view of anxiety because sometimes rather than fighting anxiety it can be helpful to “sit with it” for a while.
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. ~ Franz Kafka
Visit the two rooms of anxiety. I invite you to imagine that your anxiety resides in two rooms. Imagine yourself taking a seat in each room and considering a different facet of anxiety in each room. Of course, the rooms don’t need to be real when you make your own rooms out of imagination.
Caution: If imaging this makes you more anxious I encourage you to not enter the room or to leave the room if you start feeling overly uncomfortable. You may feel some discomfort being more mindful of anxiety but it is counterproductive to do something in the name of anxiety reduction that results in a bewildering increase in anxiety. It is always okay to pause or stop!
To You. In the first room, think about what your anxiety is doing to you. Anxiety can make us emotionally and physically uncomfortable, disturb our minds, interfere with sleep, hamper performance, create avoidance and so much more. It prevents us from both doing our best and being our best. Anxiety can consume so much of our energy and attention that we are left drained, depleted, and defeated.
Ask yourself: What is anxiety doing to me and sit with that question to get a roomier view of your own anxiety.
For you. In the second room, think of what your anxiety is doing for you. Sometimes in our great desire to get rid of something we fail to see what that something is also giving us. I am not saying you are deliberately creating anxiety to gain benefits, rather, I am saying that we may benefit by taking a roomier view of anxiety to also notice what anxiety is doing for us and if there may be a less painful way to gain those benefits. Anxiety may be showing us how much we care about something even though that caring feels out of control. Anxiety may “save us” from a dreaded presentation, situation, or experience. Please know it may feel challenging, and paradoxical, to see that you’re gaining something from something you desperately want to get rid of or change.
Secondary gain. In medicine and psychology secondary gain is defined as the advantage that occurs secondary to a difficulty we are experiencing. Secondary gain should not act as a trigger to self-blame but rather as a lens to see a fuller picture of your experience. It is also quite conceivable that you sit with anxiety yet do not perceive any secondary gain from your anxiety.
Ask yourself: What is anxiety doing for me and sit with that question to get a roomier view of your own anxiety.
Sometimes in life, it can be helpful to take a break and go to our room (or rooms). When you exit your room, I hope you will feel even just a little more comfortable, competent, or confident to proceed. Anne Lamott once wrote:
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
Reach out for help. Just because we may be going through anxiety on our own doesn’t mean we should weather it alone. We need to be cautious and careful around anxiety. If your anxiety feels unmanageable or is increasing in frequency, duration, and/or intensity ensure you see your doctor or other caregivers to get specific assistance designed just for you and your situation.
To Subscribe to future ‘Hey Shrink’ newsletters, hit the +Subscribe button at the top of the LinkedIn page.
I am available for online and in-person workshops, coaching, and caring conversations. If you want more zing in your life and work message me directly though LinkedIn or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.Next weeks issue of Hey Shrink is Breathing Into Anxiety.