Yes, we are entering the Halloween season and being scared is part of the fun, but being scared or overwhelmed the remainder of the 364 days in the year can really interfere with your life.
I recently read a fantastic book by a person who is really inspirational, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and bestselling author of the book “Lean In”. In this book she encourages women to focus on what they can do in the workplace rather than what they can’t. After reading this book, I starting thinking that her incredible message reaches further than just workplace leadership. The concept of “leaning in” is a wonderful metaphor for responding to most things in life that scare or overwhelm us. If you have an important wish or goal in your life, but you are finding that fear, or a lack of confidence, may be stopping you, this is the time to decide your next steps. If your goal or wish is important to you, then you have the following two choices: Approach or Avoid. I would suggest that if this is an important life goal then choose to “Approach” it and make a plan, break down the steps and Lean In.
Yes, let’s go there…
Anxiety is a thing. Anxiety is actually your body doing exactly what it is supposed to do to keep you safe. If you about to be hit by a car or find a grizzly bear on your hiking path, you are supposed to be sent into a “fight or flight” state to keep you safe. The problem arises when that bear is in your head (your thoughts) and you can’t seem to escape it. Anxiety then becomes a problem because the bear follows you around takes over your life and stops you from living your life fully.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach designed to help people train their brain to respond differently to that bear, to get to know the bear (thought patterns), challenge the bear (new ways of thinking) and understanding where that bear comes from (core beliefs). So since this is an approach that focuses on LEARNING and retraining your brain, and humans are learning beings…you CAN do this!
You first need to calm your Amygdala, this is a tiny part of your brain that is responsible for the huge and important response, the “fight or flight” response. You want to learn to calm Amy, tell her that everything it is okay and to “shut up!” because you need to think.
Try this to calm Amy…
or listen to this…
The most relaxing tune, Weightless by founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy , was crafted by using specific rhythms, tones, frequencies and intervals to relax the listener. A continuous rhythm of 60 BPM causes the brainwaves and heart rate to synchronise with the rhythm: a process known as ‘entrainment’. Low underlying bass tones relax the listener and a low whooshing sound with a trance-like quality takes the listener into an even deeper state of calm. Read more!
1. Marconi Union and Lyz Cooper – Weightless
2. Airstream – Electra
3. DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)
4. Enya – Watermark
5. Coldplay – Strawberry Swing
6. Barcelona – Please Don’t Go
7. All Saints – Pure Shores
8. Adele – Someone Like You
9. Mozart – Canzonetta Sull’aria
10. Cafe Del Mar – We Can Fly
Once your brain is calm, you can now think (using your Prefrontal Cortex…I know TMI! but this PsychNerdy gurl couldn’t help it!). Helpful thinking means many things in this process such as, understanding your thought patterns, challenging problematic patterns or widening the lens you use when viewing your your life, just to mention a few ways. Get started on changing your thinking with the following resources:
Choose to focus on what is going well in your life. Look at your life as a learning process and take on challenges as learning opportunities. You are not broken or defective, you just haven’t learned something…YET!
Watch Sheryl Sandberg share her experience in two wonderful TedTalks 🙂
If you are ever overwhelmed, fearful or anxious, please know that you are definitely not crazy. You brain and body are doing EXACTLY what they are designed to do. Sometimes we just learn too much in a direction that is not helpful, we develop a habit, and all we need to do is start learning in a different direction. It is just LEARNING and if fear is getting in the way of your life, then you just haven’t learned how to tune up the brain that you got…YET. I wish our brains came with a personal manual 😉 Keep on learning; keep on figuring out how your brain works.
I leave you with the thought…
Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)
eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success