Living a Valued Life
What would it be like to reframe your fears and worries as distractors, rather than guideposts?
Imagine that you are facilitating a meeting at work. You had developed a novel solution to a long-standing problem and had been wanting to launch the solution for the last year. Today, once you walk everyone through the solution, you will be able to make it live and everyone will be using the solution by the end of the day.
Being the organized person you are, you had created a detailed agenda and sent that all to all participants weeks in advance. You arrive 30 minutes early to the meeting have everything prepared. You feel calm and confident.
You start the meeting on time and review the agenda. Someone says they have something urgent to discuss and that it will only take a few minutes. You feel your anxiety climb, but tell yourself that you don't want to prevent an important piece of communication from being shared. You hand the floor over to your coworker. That topic then leads into other "urgent" matters brought up by other people.
Here is a situation in which you had a plan and wanted to pursue something that was really valuable to you, and even though you were in charge, you repeatedly let these interruptions take you off track because they seemed important and legitimate. The agenda should have dictated how to move forward, but instead, these seemingly urgent matters took priority, preventing you from realizing something meaningful. If you were to instead hold to your vision and pursue what is important to you, this would have likely had very little impact on others and a very big impact on you.
A vital piece of treatment is for us to identify your values - what are you working toward that gives meaning to your life. Oftentimes, people with longstanding anxiety have difficulty identifying what goes into a valued life because they have lived for so long with the primary focus of controlling, changing, or getting rid of anxiety. That single point of focus then almost acts as blinders to what is really important.
Those coping strategies may help us to function today, but keep us stagnant and unable to move forward.
One Last Note About Fear
Fear is the unavoidable partner of love. When we care about something, it makes sense that we want to keep it safe. When you bring home a really cool piece of art that you are excited about, you position it somewhere it won't get damaged or fall. If you don't care if it gets damaged, it is probably something you don't care about.
So, when people don't want to feel fear, they choose avoidance, or in other words, they choose to care less. If care goes down, so does fear. But when care goes down, what else goes down? Passion, joy, meaning, purpose, and whatever else makes you a unique being.
Instead of caring less and living a fraction of your desired life, it is possible to develop a new relationship with fear and discomfort so that you can live and love... even when you are feeling discomfort.