Hey Shrink #1 – Lower Anxiety: Stop Taking Mental Selfies
In 2017, according to the World Health Organization, over 264 million adults experienced anxiety. With COVID and the disconcerting levels of uncertainty over the last 5 years that number today is much higher.
The Cambridge dictionary defines anxiety as
the uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or worry about something that is happening or might happen in the future.
My daughter, a school psychologist was asked to do a presentation on anxiety for the teachers and staff of a school. I taught Educational and Counselling Psychology at the University of Manitoba for 25 years so Katharine asked if we could briefly talk about her presentation. While doing this, I realized how much I missed working in psychology — you can take David out of psychology but you can’t take psychology out of David.
So here is the premier newsletter on Hey Shrink: Psychological Zingers for Better Living, Work, and Wellbeing (I will explain the title “Hey Shrink” in a future issue of the newsletter).
But before we leap into anxiety I ask you to see psychological zingers as invitations, nudges, experiments, explorations, considerations, or possibilities. They are not meant as definitive solutions to our daily challenges. You must determine the value and application for yourself. Think about it, play with the idea, experiment, or even decide it is not for you. The Buddha, far wiser than I, said:
you must be a lamp unto yourself.
I am interested in performance anxiety, the anxiety we feel before giving a speech or job interview or the anxiety we feel during these performance situations.
No Self. No Anxiety. Anxiety requires an attention to the self. To be anxious, we need to know we are anxious and we determine that through our emotions, thoughts, self-evaluations, bodily sensations, etc. But our awareness can cause us to tumble down the rabbit hole into even more intense anxiety. I have worked with a number of people who are anxious about being anxious!
Stop taking mental Selfies. Here is the first zinger or provocation around anxiety: If there is no self there may be no anxiety. That was relatively easy to write but what a challenge in practice. If you want to eliminate or reduce anxiety, experiment with focusing beyond or outside of your self.
For example, if you are anxious speaking in public focus on the audience and the content not yourself. If you are anxious in a job interview, even though they are asking questions about you, do your best to focus on the interviewers.
You may never be fully successful in eliminating a self-focus but if you can lessen it during anxious times you may be freed up from the anxiety that consumes your energy, disturbs your mind, and hampers your performance.
Leadership Bonus: If you are in leadership and you would like a deeper understanding of being selfless, I encourage you to check out the work of Katrijn van Oudheusden and her book on Selfless Leadership.
In conclusion, You don’t need to think less of yourself but if you want to lessen or eliminate anxiety you may benefit by thinking about your self less.
Next Issue of Hey Shrink #2: What Anxiety Does To Us and For Us.
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.