You are in control of your story.
Imagine your life as a story and you are writing it. You are the author. But your story is part of a bigger narrative and influenced by the people around us, especially as we are growing up. As we learn to navigate life, we are learning from the examples around us and the responses we get from our behaviors. Touch a hot pan in the oven, get burned, and we learn from this experience and the negative feeling of pain that resulted as a consequence. The same happens in our interactions with people. A simple comment from a trusted friend or family member that embarrasses us or corrects us, and we learn to avoid that same mistake. These interactions help us write our story, but sometimes the thing we’ve learned, or the behavior we adopt, is not healthy and creates problems moving forward.
The Stories We Believe
The hero in A Bug’s Life is an accident-prone inventor ant named Flik. He just wants to be part of the colony, but his differences cause some big problems. The colony’s perspective is to let Flik leave so that the ants can function without him. They feel that they are better off without him.
Flik’s story or script is that he is a screw up and doesn’t ‘fit’ in his colony.
Do you ever feel that way? Like you don’t ‘fit’?
Our stories help frame who we are. They allow us to improve in areas that we need to grow, but they can also prevent us from growth or opportunity.
While there is evidence that Flik’s differences are causing problems and making it harder for the colony to function, his differences end up helping the colony grow in the end.
The voices in your head.
What do the ‘voices in your head’ tell you about yourself? Do they affirm your worth? Or do they prevent you from real growth? These voices are a reflection of our story. They reflect what is important to us and what we believe.
What does God have to do with your story? Whether we believe it or not there is an author of creation. We fail to be whole without a growing relationship with our creator. How are you letting the Author of creation write your story? Something to think about…
Take Home - You control the script.
This is a crucial belief that we must arrive at. We are in charge of the script of our story.
Am I a person when presented with a triggering event or situation I shut down? Do I blow up?
Or do I respond in a manner that is healthy in the situation?
You get to decide. Let’s unpack this.
Learning to PAUSE
EMOTION OR FEELING
Take a moment to PAUSE and reflect on how you are feeling. This is a good time to breathe! Slow breathing buys you time to process why you are experiencing anxiety. With time this emotion will also become more manageable. The most important habit to focus on is the habit of pausing.
Have the courage to ask yourself ‘why’.
Let’s gain an understanding of where the trigger came from that caused the emotion or feeling. What is in your control? We can’t control our feelings, nor the behaviors, actions or feelings of others. We can control our reaction to our feelings.
Take Home - You can control how you respond to your feelings.
Taking the time to PAUSE allows you to engage the thinking part of your brain. This is the next step after you PAUSE.
Describe Your Feelings
What is the context of the feeling? This is where you are looking for the trigger or situation that caused this emotion. In the context of anxiety, the question to ask yourself is what caused this feeling of anxiety or worry? This can be complex. Let’s take some time to explore what we are feeling.
“I feel mad.” Not very helpful.
“I feel frustrated” More helpful.
“I feel worried and not in control of my situation.” Much more helpful.
Questions to ask ourselves…
Decide who you want to be.
You have a choice, so choose. Not making a choice and letting this response be a habit is still a choice. One made for you. Don’t let the situation or the views of others define your choices or actions and therefore your identity.
Take Home - PAUSE – THINK – DECIDE
Everyone has a story
While we are learning to manage ourselves, we are also becoming more aware of the needs of others. This is empathy. Being able to put yourself in another’s shoes. Our stories can help us identify with where other people are on their journey. Own a small business and your ability to connect and empathize with another small business owner is easier. Misery loves company!
My friend Jason, a clinical and research psychologist, describes this process as jumping into a ‘hole’ with a friend as he has been there before and knows the way out. This is where our struggles, our story, can be used to help others grow.
Your habits reinforce your desired identity.
The habit of the PAUSE.
Ask yourself the question…Who do I want to become?
What is your desired future?
"Every action you take is a vote for the person you want to become." -James Clear
Your actions will cast a vote for your identity every time you repeat it. Your choices make you who you are.
How does this relate to addressing anxiety? If you struggle with anxiety developing a habit to address the triggers to your emotions is an important step in managing yourself and developing greater Emotional Intelligence or EQ. Without a conscious choice we are letting our base biology, the protective mechanism of our 'fight or flight' sympathetic nervous system, to either 'blow up' (fight) or withdraw (flight).
DO ONE THING...
PAUSE AND BREATHE
DECIDE AND CHOOSE
The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman
The measurement of emotional intelligence: A critical review of the literature and recommendations for researchers and practitioners.
Written by Joel Rauser Physical Therapist
Partnership with Mayfield Counseling Center