'Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree a long time ago.'
Other people’s anxiety can rub off on us or we ‘catch’ it from them. We can find ourselves doing a task in a rush or feeling overwhelmed by something because someone else is anxious about that task or they want it done quickly.
Ask yourself whether the anxiety you are feeling is yours or whether you have picked it up from someone else. It is a good idea to put this kind of anxiety down or try to avoid accepting it in the first place. You can visualise what their anxiety looks like and visualise putting it down somewhere where it cannot affect you such as on a shelf or in a box. Or you can try physically shaking it off and down your arms until it falls away from you.
Challenging fearful thoughts.
We are programmed to think negatively to aid our survival and this can be heightened when in stressful situations. But these thoughts can easily overwhelm us and paralyse us. Try to get curious about these thoughts rather than pushing them away. Monsters tend to grow in size when we don’t turn to face them…
Use the Socratic questioning method to find out more about your negative thoughts and to challenge them:
“You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can always choose how you respond to it.”
Roy T. Bennett
Working with the situation:
We often get stuck in one way of thinking about our problems and situations. This can lead to us repeating patterns of thinking and behaviour which might not serve us very well.
Try asking yourself these questions:
Avoid – is there anything about this situation I can avoid or say no to?
Alter – is there anything about this situation I can change (external changes)?
Adapt – is there anything I can change about how I feel/what I think about this situation (internal changes)?
Accept – is this something I need to accept by:
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
This works because it takes us out of the instinctual fight/flight/freeze part of our brain into the noticing/rational part. It is much more difficult to panic if we are busy noticing things around us.
Try the 54321 method:
‘Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.’
‘If you focus on what you’ve left behind, you’ll never be able to see what lies ahead.’
Auguste Gusteau in Disney’s Ratatouille
Sometimes, we just need to feel rooted so that we can be safe. Think of it as anchoring a tent by securely fastening guy ropes and banging tent pegs into the ground or casting an anchor from a boat to hold it steady in the winds and water.
You can ground yourself (as in Tip 8) and have a sentence or phrase ready to repeat to yourself to anchor you in the here and now. You can adapt any sentence which makes you feel secure. For example, ‘It’s (insert time) on (insert day) and I am (insert location). I am safe. Holding something like a stone or a small favourite ornament or picture can really help to anchor you too.