“Nothing in the affairs of men is worthy of great anxiety”. Plato
Really? Evidently Plato had no idea what life is like to live in the 21st century with cell phones ringing constantly, texts from our children all day long, rush hour traffic, mortgages, credit card bills, identity theft threats, terror threats, climate change warnings, and on and on and on. In reality people in Plato’s 5th – 4th century B.C. time certainly had their share of stressors, worry and anxiety.
So, how is it that a great philosopher might put forth these words?
Long ago in the beginning of my inner work with myself and my clients I wondered why it is some people deal with the challenges of everyday life so differently than others. How is it that two people may have many of the same anxieties and stressors…yet one appears calm, focused and balanced while the other is frazzled, unfocused, has difficulty breathing, overwhelmed, not sleeping, and on and on?
I discovered years ago, that which seems to be very common knowledge now, it’s our thoughts. Wayne Dyer said it so well, “The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; (sound familiar?)..it’s your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can’t package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.”
Let’s look at two people who experience a flat tire at the exact same time and the exact same place under the same circumstances. One person’s thoughts are “&*#% tire…I hate this car; I hate these tires; I hate these miserable roads; now I’m going be late to my meeting”, and proceeds to get out of the car and kick the tire….while the other person’s thoughts are “I’m so grateful I’m at a place where I can pull off the road; I’ll call and let my bosses know I’m going to be late for the meeting, this is something out of my control and I know they will understand”; …and, proceeds to meet the challenge gracefully.
What’s the difference? Their thoughts, their self talk….It’s the only variable that can change. Challenges will happen to all of us….we will define and perceive that challenge with our thoughts…that will ultimately affect our feelings and responses in our bodies.
And, so you may be saying…”that’s nice Barb but how do I change my thoughts when I’m in the midst of a distressing experience?” One key component…and, it may be the most important is.. to Stop the Negative Chatter in your head….. and I mean Stop it…stop the chatter totally.
When you stop the negative chatter, it allows for more clarity and more positive thoughts to flow to you. In the next installment, I will tell you exactly how I teach my clients to do just that…Stop the Negative Chatter….with amazing results.
The second tool is to engage in breathing to calm yourself . You can do this anytime, anywhere….no one knows you are doing it. Inhale through your nose 4 counts; hold 4 counts and exhale through your mouth. Gently repeat this cycle until you feel your body calming.
Remember, the first and most important step is to Stop the Negative Chatter. These two tools alone have been life changing for myself and many of my clients. It is possible to flow with life’s challenges.
As Jodi Picoult so aptly put it “Anxiety is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far”…..Be aware of your negative self talk, Stop the Negative Chatter, use the calming breathing technique and start alleviating the anxiety, stress and worry from your life.
To greater peace and calm in our lives,
Barbara Christine Haines, M.A.Ed.