We all get anxious and het up from time to time. Life is life and every now and again it’s going to throw a curve ball in our direction. What is interesting however is just how damn easy it is to keep ourselves trapped in a loop of worry and stress.
To cut through anxiety it is really helpful to ground yourself with the following four questions, they will cut through the fog of worry in an instant and help you get the focus and clarity to you need to deal with whatever life has dealt you.
My Four Anxiety Killing Questions:
Anxiety Killing Question #1: What is real NOW?
I had a gorgeous client who I will call Marianne. Marianne had done great work to overcome her Adrenal Fatigue through my High Energy Happiness programme and was loving being fully engaged in creative a vital life she loved. It was a joy to see her blossoming as her body, career and home-life transformed. All was going beautifully…until…spanner in the works. Her husband, who had hated his job for a long time, quit his job. Just like that. No other job to go to. Just couldn’t stand one more day.
This threw Marianne into a major, and I mean MAJOR, spin. “What if he can’t get another job? There are so few opportunities round here?” (they live in very rural NZ) “Then I’ll have to work extra shifts and I have just sorted out my health and then I’ll get sick again….and we won’t be able to afford the rent on the house…we’ll have to move…downsize…we were already stretched…this is going to bankrupt us….what about the children’s schools? …oh god oh god oh god…” and so on.
Here is the source of Marianne’s anxiety. She was focused on a whole heap of stuff that HADN’T happened yet. She was focused on a whole heap of stuff she had NO EVIDENCE FOR.
“Tell me” I asked “has Gary ever not paid the rent before? Do you have evidence for a time that Gary has ever not supported his family? Have you ever seen Gary shirk his responsibilities as a father and a husband and a provider?” Marianne replied no to all three. Okay, so the evidence we have is that…he will figure this out, because HE ALWAYS HAS DONE IN THE PAST. Always. That’s your evidence.
What is real NOW? You have a roof over your head. The children are fine and taken care of. You have a responsible and dependable man who always figures stuff out. You have food on the table and rent in the bank for the next weeks and month. Right now what is real is that you are fine.
Marianne’s stress instantly dissipated. When she focused on what was real NOW, everything was fine. She was a woman, in her kitchen, with food on the table and a loving husband who always delivered.
It’s important to back yourself that you CAN handle what life throws at you. But there is no need to stress out about it BEFORE it is actually REAL. All those worries were unreal, a figment of her imagination at that point. They were causing great stress. Stay in what is REAL in the NOW and your anxiety will reduce tenfold.
Anxiety Killing Question #2: Is it a problem or is it a fact?
Anxiety busting question number 2. I wrote an article about this in The New Zealand Herald – it’s right here. Basically to reduce anxiety you need to ask yourself if it is a problem or a fact that you are stressed about. If you have a problem, well, by very definition that means there is a solution. Figure. It. Out. Find the solution. Get on with it.
If there is no solution – well you don’t have a problem honey, you have a fact. And there is no point worrying and wrestling with a fact. It’s not going to change it. All that worry, anxiety and stress about a fact is wasted energy. The only course of action is to stop fighting it, and accept it. Tough? Yes. Anxiety reducing. Also…yes. Stop the fight. Acceptance not Anxiety.
Anxiety Killing Question #3: Is this my business?
Going back to the example of Marianne and her husband quitting his job, this was a great anxiety reducing question for her to ask herself. “Who’s business is it for him to get another job and bring money into the household?” His. Okay. And is he fully aware of this responsibility? Yep. Okay. So what result do you get from nagging him in a stressed stream of consciousness day in day out. “It really winds him up, makes us both even more stressed”.
Okay. So, new approach: it’s HIS business. Trust him to own it. Support him but don’t own it for him. You are worrying about something that is down to him: his job. So let it be his business. Support him, but let him own it.
“Honey, I trust you. I know you know what you are doing and you will sort out a new job soon. You have always been an amazing provider for this family. I will support you as we get through this together. I love and trust you to resolve this situation”.
Marianne dropped the worry that it was somehow HER responsibility to sort out his job. OF COURSE that IS DEEPLY stressful because you CAN’T own that for someone else! She let him step up, stopped nagging, and supported him as he made he way forward in confidence. He had a new job by the week’s end.
You can drop your anxiety by bringing your attention back to what is YOUR business. What is your responsibility? What is NOT? In this case to be a loving and supportive spouse. Not to take over her husbands responsibilities for him.
Anxiety Killing Question #4: How do I want to feel right now?
When the shit hits the fan we will deal with it far better from a place of empowerment and strength. We want to feel powerful and strong, not weak, trapped, under-confident. The good news is you get to choose how you feel. You can say to yourself “What if he can’t get another job? There are so few opportunities round here? …Then I’ll have to work extra shifts and I have just sorted out my health and then I’ll get sick again….and we won’t be able to afford the rent on the house…we’ll have to move…downsize…we were already stretched…this is going to bankrupt us….what about the children’s schools? …oh god oh god oh god…” which is going to make you feel anxious, worried, strapped and stressed.
Or you can choose to think “Right now we are fine. We are just in transition. We are very resourceful and I trust in my own abilities to handle whatever comes up. We will be fine because we are resilient and good at handling life’s inevitable curveballs. I’ve got this.” Feel strong, confident, full of choice and power.
So there you have it. The key to reducing anxiety and stress: ask yourself one or more of these four powerful questions. They will cut through worry and get everything back into perspective, pronto.