More from Anxiety Breakthroughs Coaching Programme

  • Dominated by anxious thoughts and feelings?
  • Struggling to just get rid of them?
  • Do you despair of being free of Anxiety?

Here’s an Idea for your Anxiety Toolbox:

If anxiety is ruling your life, you may think I am nuts to say so, but you are more powerful than anxious thoughts and emotions.  Anxiety is not You.

I want to introduce you to the idea that rather than trying to get rid of anxious thoughts and feelings, you can tame them.
Not entirely, and just as well, because that would quell your creativity, excitement and enthusiasm.

Anxiety is an innate primitive signalling system that you are in danger which is meant to be transitory. If it is prolonged you have allowed it to get bigger than it needs to be. Don’t get into self-criticism about this – that only adds to negativity. Rather, be playful and imaginative to solve the problems of anxiety.

Here’s how to get started with a 3 step plan:

Step 1) Give Anxiety a Shape and Character

If anxiety were a character separate to you, what would it look like? Sound like? What does it say to you?

Imagine it as a size you could place on your desk or in your pocket. If it looms large – shrink it.

What sort of personality does your character have? Is it like the Zen “mad monkey of the mind” darting all over the place distracting you? Could it be a little horned devil? Would it be a little, jittery, freaked out person?
Give your character a name. It could just be “the Worrier”.  Find a small object to represent the worrier and put it in your pocket. You are much bigger and cleverer than your worrier. Just giving anxiety a shape, name and a character gives you more control over it. Have some fun with this. Humour helps gain perspective and perspective is powerful.

Step 2) Discover Its Purpose

Now here is the interesting part – although it can be tricky to explore on your own. What is this little character endeavouring to achieve for you? What is it whispering or shouting at you? It has a positive intention for you however clumsily it goes about it and however out of date it may be. Is it trying to keep you safe and out of danger? How? Was it essential in the past but no longer helpful? Try to think about this in a detached, objective way. This will trigger centres of the mind more highly evolved than anxiety, which comes from the primitive limbic system of the brain, and will help put you back in control. Just recognising what your character is trying to do for you is a key step to taming anxiety.

Step 3) Be the Boss (kindly)

Is the danger really a threat to life and limb or only to the ego? Does it belong in your past but spoiling the present and hampering your future? Be the overseer and make a realistic assessment. Your character may fear redundancy when told it is over-reacting or living in the past, so thank and reassure him/her of a good job done; that you got the message and will take care of the situation.
Understand that anxieties only get bigger if you ignore them or, on the other hand, if you feed them with too much attention. So get them in perspective.
These innovative strategies are easier said than done without guidance, but have worked well for many clients whose imagination is running away with them in the wrong direction – into worst case scenarios.  If  taming your mind is proving difficult, find a coach with whom you can have a creative collaboration and learn to use your imagination for you, not against you.

‘After a prolonged period of work-related stress resulting in burnout in 2019, I concluded that the long-term aftereffects were not going to go away by themselves, and I didn’t want 2022 to follow in the same manner.  Although I was aware both my professional and home life were being affected, working in the engineering industry meant that the culture and stigma around mental health has only relatively recently become a topic that can be comfortably discussed.

 From that first session, it became clear that not only did Avril make me at ease immediately, but her ability to link science to situation to practice was remarkable, not only when coming to terms with my previous experiences but relating them to familiar frames of reference for present day and future challenges. The tools and techniques she recommended were wonderful in helping me take back control and look at things with a different perspective.

 On reflection, since coming to the end of my sessions, I realise I’ve experienced several professional challenges where her teaching has helped me embrace a different approach, which has improved confidence, performance and wellbeing no end.  

My only regret is not contacting her sooner.’

MC – Chartered Engineer

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