Bring an end to anxiety with change to thought pattern
There was a time in my life that even when everything was wonderful I would still be waiting for the worst to happen. It was difficult to convince myself that nothing bad was going to happen. It was just a feeling and one I later learnt to identify as a form of anticipatory anxiety.
On the outside I was confident, calm and capable (or I hoped that that was what was being seen). On the inside I was battling with self-worth and guilt for being successful. I know it sounds strange and if you've never experienced it, that's great. However, it dogged me for many years. The questions in my mind would come up "Do you really deserve this? What if people find out you're not as good as they think you are? Taking on all of this responsibility is going to make you crash someday! You know it don't you?”
To compensate I would take on more, push myself, strive to be better and convince myself that I'd be OK and that it wasn't going to happen. While it didn't quite ring true, it helped. It wasn't that I was overwhelmed by negative thinking, it's just that I had to fight to keep my head above that thinking. What that led to was me using a huge amount of emotional energy whenever I was preparing to run a training program or facilitate a session. It was most evident on the morning of delivery where I would often start the day throwing up because of the pressure I was putting on myself.
Some years ago I was talking about this with one of my eccentric friends. He, being relatively wise, said: "You always know where you're going to end up with these workshops, don't you? You know the objective and the outcome?”
The answer was yes. "How does it feel when you get there?” I told him it felt great, the feedback was strongly positive, the outcome having been achieved and recognised. I always felt an immense sense of relief, very calm, although drained.
"Well, there's your answer.” My quizzical look prompted further insight. "Start with the end in mind. You're successful, feeling great and very calm. You know that's where you'll end up. So start with that as the feeling and you'll no longer be wasting all of this energy on the negative stuff you're feeding yourself - which is obviously exhausting you.”
All these years later I realise how sound that advice was. I focus very much on what I can control and let the rest sort itself out. And I always envisage the end result as a successful engagement. I don't always know how to get there but I do know that I trust the power of the group I'm working with and my intuitive response that is connected to doing my best for them.
In the words of Ziggy Marley, "Doing something that is productive is a great way to alleviate emotional stress. Get your mind doing something that is productive.”
Nick Bennett is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned: mindsaligned.com.au