I joked recently with a client that half of life is spent managing our own or other people’s anxiety. She agreed. We both laughed, and then we quickly sobered at the realization of this truth.
Every difficult conversation, decision, negotiation, request, compromise, declaration, or directive stems from a sensation that something needs to shift or be different.
Passivity or sameness in life can create a sense of anxiety as boredom can be a freedom killer. Others have anxiety at the mere idea of change, let alone living through one. Freedom can manifest unease and apprehension is born when
The problem is rarely the problem. The problem is anxiety and our response to it. When anxiety goes unaddressed or unexplored, it can fester into difficulties. Then it becomes a ‘whack-a-mole’ approach as we try to fix one problem after another versus the underlying root – our response to anxiety.
It’s like that one dandelion at the edge of the yard. It’s not hurting anyone, and it bugs you that you have a weed, but it’s only one. We think if we ignore it, perhaps it will go away. Three weeks later, it is shocking to see the yard overrun by gangly stems with heads of white fluff that seem to have spread overnight. Now that darn weed has hijacked your front yard, and you react to this new problem by harshly mowing everything down hoping unwanted wildflowers do not grow back. They do. They always do.
For twenty years, I have had at least one Peter Koestenbaum quote thumb tacked to whatever bulletin board is in my office. He is a master at redefining the role of anxiety in our lives. One of my favorites is the following:
Anxiety is the experience of growth itself. In any endeavor, how do you feel when you go from one stage to the next? The answer: You feel anxious. Anxiety that is denied makes us ill; anxiety that is fully confronted and fully lived through converts itself into joy, security, strength, centeredness, and character. The practical formula: Go where the pain is.
Koestenbaum also has a beautiful way of reminding us that we truncate our lives when we resist or run away when faced with anxiety. We must move towards it. We often have to get closer to the issue and study it; by understanding, it we learn, and then we grow. We may never be weed free, but we can create new environments that hamper the spread of weeds. We can also be intentional with what we plant.
Where are your weeds? Where is your pain? This is where you need to go.
Photos by James Peacock on Unsplash
Welcome to the funny things I heard in 2018. I started a list last year that landed in an end-of-year blog. I think this idea will stay a tradition because some of this stuff needs to be documented. I have scrubbed the politics out entirely – so you do not need to wear a Doggie Thunder Vest to read. Enjoy!
I can’t get the voice out of my head. It’s like living with Voldemort before he got his body. You know, when he was still attached to that little dude’s head.
Oh, I know who you are talking about. He’s that guy that got fired for farting.
My dog has a lot of time on his hands.
I’m starting to feel like Randall in This is Us.
I feel like Flo in that Progressive insurance commercial. “Where’s my price gun?”
Do not Forrest Gump me.
It’s like that scene from the Purge? Did you see it? Oh, well, don’t; it’s horrible. But it’s like that scene when that chick says, ‘Little Death is back.’
I just can’t please ‘em. I could give them front row tickets to Hamilton, and they would just pee on them and then rip them to shreds - after the pee dried.
The world would be a better place if all the yellow Starbursts just disappeared.
I have so much going on. My husband is in Austin traveling for work, so I have to manage the kids by myself, and last night my dog ate a diaper. It was dirty.
I’m tired of all the administrivia.
This year has been craptastic!
I need snacks – stat!
Let’s not weaponize coaching.
Why is a hand basket always involved when someone is headed to hell?
Wednesday is a wound around the corner.
Am I the only one on the planet who doesn’t know their MBTI code? I took a different assessment, and it said I was an antelope. So, there’s that.
When I say everything that is in my head, it all just goes to hell.
Frustrated is my new ‘F’ word. I have two ‘F’ words now. They are interchangeable.
When did coming to work dirty become a thing? Did you know that’s a thing? Why is this a thing now?
What do I have to do? Give back the blood of my enemies? Well, no... I’m not giving that blood back.
Me: What is top of mind for you as we end this coaching session?
Other person: I can’t stop thinking about how giraffe don’t have upper front teeth.
Me: [Sigh]… Let’s try this again.
I wish people would stop saying, “to make a long story short” cause it’s never short. Do you have a training to help people make it short?
Do you ever accidentally kick your own leg and cut yourself with your big toe nail? That was my morning.
The meeting next door has better food; I stole a potato when no one was looking.
Stop whining, or I swear I won’t buy you the Crazy Cat Lady action figure.
…Um, yes, the Crazy Cat Lady action figure is a thing. I was certain I heard it wrong, but it’s real – I Googled it.
What a year my friends - and it is not over yet! It will be earmarked in our history books forever. I’m fairly sure if we had a quarter for every social media slur, swear, or insult, we might be able to pay off most the U.S. national debt. And yet, there is also goodness to be found in being human. Tucked away in the course rhetoric of 2018, there are verbal gems from people just like us trying to get Starbucks or make sense of their day, life, and leadership.
Happy Holidays and cheers to all the clever and crazy things people say!
Carrie Arnold, PhD, MCC, BCC
In no particular order: Author | Dog mom to Moose | Speaker | Reader Mom to human offspring Wife | Lover of Learning Leadership coach & consultant, The Willow Group | Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation | Program Director for Evidence-Based Coaching at Fielding Graduate University