Reducing Anxiety
Ep. 188
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Anxiety seems to be more present in our modern lives than ever before. But I think that is partly due to the fact that we fundamentally misunderstand anxiety, which prevents us from reducing it. In this week’s episode, I break down what anxiety actually is and what steps to take to help you manage it.

Show Transcript
We think that if we worry enough and if we plan enough, then somehow we're gonna figure everything out. We're gonna leave no stone unturned. We're gonna come up with every possibility that might lead to like some kind of bad outcome. And we're gonna try to, I guess, remedy that.

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Hello, my friends. Welcome to another episode. I am so excited you are here. You're in for a good one. Before we jump in, I mentioned this last week, but I will say it again, I have a new button on the website where I want you to go and leave me a voicemail. You can go to and click that orange button and tell me what your problems are. Not all your problems, probably mostly career, but, you know, you can tell me about other stuff too if you want. I'm gonna use a bunch of 'em to do like a Q and A. I I've wanted to share the free of coaching calls but I thought this might be a better way where if you can't make it to the call or you just have a problem that I haven't been addressing that you want some answers to, go there, record your voice message and I will either hopefully like do an episode with a bunch of them or I was thinking I might start just doing like one question before we start the episode and I'll just answer that question and then jump into the topic. So we'll figure it out as we go along, but go there and let me know what you're thinking. Okay. I am so excited about today's episode because it is crucial life skill that we all need. Uh I know a lot of us are really seeing the rise of anxiety in our lives. I think that we're seeing it documented all over about how much more anxious our children are, uh how much more anxious we are. And I wanna talk about it cuz I think that I have a way of thinking about it that helps me reduce my anxiety. And so I would love if I can help you, pass it along kind of and let you, help you get a little bit more of a handle on how you deal with anxiety. Now, I will say that I think anxiety, the word anxiety, is overly used, meaning that I think that we kind of lump a lot of different feelings into anxiety. And that just kind of sort of goes to show how little we know how to feel our feelings or how little we know about feelings because anything that’s kind of in that family tends to get lumped into anxiety. And so I do think it's important to kind of name it properly because oftentimes anxiety is masking another emotion that we're not willing to feel. And so that might be like fear. It might be worry. It might be nervousness. It might be shame or embarrassment, right? I'm sure you can tell like feeling embarrassed versus feeling worried are gonna be two different thoughts and feelings that come from different places. And the solution to them is gonna be different, right? The way that you start thinking about your thoughts is different. And so that's why it's important I think to get a better understanding of what anxiety we're talking about. But I think for the purposes of today's episode, I'm more talking about like a future anxiety. So that would be more either fear, uncertainty, worry, those kind of anxieties, not sort of like social anxiety where you're like replaying what you said over and over again, which is a very real type of anxiety. It's just not what we're gonna address here today. Okay, so I think that the crucial thing that people misunderstand about anxiety is that there are two parts to it. Okay. So there is the first part which we all understand, which is like the uncertainty about the future, right? We don't know what's gonna happen in one certain area that we're worried about. We don't know about whether we're gonna get that raise or we're gonna get fired. We don't know, you know, what's gonna happen in our relationship, whatever. Whatever the source of anxiety is for you, there's the uncertainty part. And I think most of us just focus on that and we forget that there's a second part to this. And the second part is that there's a fear of how we're gonna feel if that thing we're worried about actually happens, right? If the bad things happen, we are so terrified of how bad it's gonna feel that that exacerbates our worry about it, right? We sort of feel as though we're being productive worrying about it because maybe we can try to prevent that outcome from happening cuz we're so scared of how it's gonna feel. So it's those two things. It's the uncertainty about the future and the fear of how we will feel when something happens that we don't want to happen.

And I want you to think about like for instance, just to solidify this, like if we do it with an example, let's say you're gonna have your annual review at your job and you have a lot of anxiety about it, like it's coming up. Right. And you don't know how it will go. Right? You're afraid that maybe you'll get criticized. Maybe you'll get fired. You don't know what they're gonna say about you. What that's gonna trigger in you, what not. Now, I want you to understand this concept because this is gonna be hard for people to accept. When I say this, a lot of times, it's not the actual firing that you're worried about like actually getting fired, let's say, right. Because if it was just the kinda logistical steps of like okay I got fired, now I have to look for another job. I have to like get my resume together. It's just a series of steps that you have to remedy. Right? And for most people, most people that come into my circle, most people that are in my group, there isn't a real fear that like I can't actually find another job. Right. So it's just really good to understand this, that the fear isn't like oh, I got fired and I don't know where I'm gonna get my next paycheck from and I'm gonna become homeless. Right. Or like I don't know if I can ever get another job. That's typically not the fear. What you're afraid of is how you will feel, what you're gonna have to process if you get fired. Okay. It's the shame. It's the embarrassment. It's the beating yourself up, right? It's the guilt. It's the anger. All of the negative emotions that will be sparked by something that you quote unquote perceive as bad. Like this bad thing happens where somebody fires us and I know how terrible that's gonna feel because I'm gonna feel embarrassed in front of my family. I'm gonna beat myself up for, you know, not doing things better, not being a better worker or whatever. I'm gonna feel a lot of shame. It's just gonna be such a terrible experience that like that's what we're afraid of. Or let's say I get a lot of people that come to me and they have a lot of anxiety about their job interview. Okay. And they like constantly have so many stories ruminating in their head about what's gonna happen. And I want you to, like if you break that down, like there's uncertainty of how it will go. Like I'm gonna go into the job interview and I don't know how I'm gonna answer questions, how they're gonna perceive me, if we're gonna mesh together, if I'm gonna get nervous, whatever. And then there's the negative emotion that you will feel if it doesn't go well. Right? Like and what ends up happening is that like we make ourselves so nervous that it ends up not going well. Right? Because we're so anxious about not being able to handle that negative emotion that we end up bringing it on ourselves. But I want you to sit with like what is the worst case scenario in something like that? Right. A lot of times like our anxieties aren't actually about very huge things, they're little things that we think is like oh my God, that would be the worst thing that ever happened in my life. But the worst thing is like you get rejected, right? They don't hire you. And so you have to feel whatever you're gonna feel, rejection, disappointment, sadness, or worse, you're gonna have to feel shame and embarrassment. Now, I wanna caveat this, that you don't have to feel those things if you know how to manage your mind. Right. Because you don't have to attach a story to it. You don't have to make it mean something about you as a person. You can take it as like okay, I wasn't a fit for this company and they probably have a million other reasons why they didn't accept me but that is not where most of us go or most of our brains go. And so most of us that don't know how to manage our minds go to the worst case of I'm a terrible person, I'll never get a job, everybody hates me, I don't know how to do anything. Right. And yeah, that feels terrible. There's a lot of shame in there. There's a lot of guilt. There's a lot of like super negative emotions. And that's what we're afraid of. Like that's what we are psyching ourselves out before we go in because we're so scared of what's gonna happen. What do I have to feel if this doesn't go the way that I want it? Okay. And we can even go for really extreme, tragic examples with which again, I would say that like the vast majority of our anxiety is not about these kind of things but obviously these come up too. So let's say like a really terrible example of like losing a loved one. Okay, like having anxiety when you're thinking about maybe losing a loved one. Again, there's the uncertainty about life, which is ever present. We don’t know what's gonna happen. And then there's the fear of grief, which is a really big one for a lot of us. I think we are also terrified because we've never been taught how to process grief, how to go through grief. And so there is this fear of how that will feel when we lose this person. Now the reality in all of these is that we can't ever control the uncontrollable, right? Life is always uncertain. Nothing is ever given. None of us, none of our lives are a given. Right. We know this intellectually, but I think obviously as you're living your life, you're not thinking that you're gonna die day to day, which serves you not to think that. But I just think like when you take a step back and realize that there has never been certainty in any of our lives, there's an illusion of certainty, but life is uncertain. Right? We can all agree on that. And we can't control that. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we want to. Right. And the other reality is that whether you want to or not, you will have to deal with grief at some point in your life. I mean, unless you are a complete loner and don't have anybody else in your life, which you will likely have to deal with grief in other ways if that's the case. For most of us, if you're in a community, if you have a tribe of people, you will likely have to deal with grief at some point in in your life. Okay. And it's not as though if you're anxious enough now, you're gonna save yourself some grief in the future, right? This is the way our brain works. It's like if I just make myself feel terrible right now, then I'll, you know, prevent or I'll prepare myself. And part of it is like that's not how that works. There's no preparing yourself for the pain of losing a loved one. You will have to go through that grief when it is time to go through that grief, right? Opening ourselves up to love means opening ourselves up to one of the most painful emotions, which is loss. And that's just the duality of life. And most of us would agree that it is worth it. Right? We don't isolate ourselves because of the fear of grief. And when you sign up for a life where you're loving other people, you also sign up for a life of the possibility of losing them. And the thing is, is that when you look at, again, this is an example of like yes, there is like the uncertainty and then there's that fear. And if you realize like you never control the first part, all you ever control is the fact of the willingness to be okay with feeling the negative emotion. Even with grief, right, is saying like I'm signing up for this life of loving other people. I'm signing up for this life of not completely closing myself down because I wanna prevent some pain and thereby cause other pain. I'm opening myself up to have like the most loving, joyous, amazing life. And with that comes the inevitability, not the possibility, the inevitability of negative emotion. And sometimes that might be grief. Sometimes it might be whatever else it is. And if I cannot resist that feeling so much, if I cannot be so afraid of that feeling, if I can be willing to feel that feeling, then it isn't as painful. It isn't as strong. It isn't as all-consuming. And so the truth that I want you to know about anxiety is that we focus. Most of us are always focused on the first part, controlling the uncontrollable, right? We think that if we worry enough and if we plan enough, then somehow we're gonna figure everything out. We're gonna leave no stone unturned. We're gonna come up with every possibility that might lead to like some kind of bad outcome. And we're gonna try to, I guess, remedy that. And we all know that that's not possible. There is a level of uncertainty that we do not control and no amount of worrying does anything for us. Right. Doesn't control that. And this is like the lie that I think our brain plays with us with anxiety is that it feels almost productive. Like you're like oh, I'm doing something actively while I sit and worry about this. But you're not, you're just making yourself feel terrible beforehand. Right? So if you look at all three of those examples, whether you get the job or not, whether you go into that review and you hear some negative news, whether you lose a loved one, there is nothing that you can do that will take away all of the uncertainty in those situations. I'm not saying there's not anything you can do that might lower the uncertainty. Of course there are. And I think typically when you have, when you're someone that suffers from anxiety, you've likely worked on those things, right? But I want you to truly understand that all of your power is in the second part, all of your power and your ability to reduce your anxiety is in knowing that you can handle any negative emotion that comes up. And I want you to hear me this, we just had this on a on one of my group coaching calls. One of the people said, you know, I'm not willing to feel fear or disappointment. And I said how's that working out for you? Like do you not feel any fear and disappointment? And she was like no, I feel it all the time. And I was like yeah, you don't get to opt out. That's the thing, like we think like well, I don't want to feel that as if it somehow stops us from feeling those negative emotions. You don't have a choice in it. This is the thing with negative emotion, right? Like it's coming, it's coming in your life, 50/50, all of ours gonna experience it. And the more we can stop being afraid of the emotion that in and of itself just reduces the amount of emotion we're feeling. Right. We're just feeling that negative emotion instead of also feeling the fear, also like resisting it. And this is why, I mean, I'm one of the millions of reasons, I'm such a stickler for mindset work. Because I think that understanding how to process an emotion is where our power lies and where we can kind of take away some of the fear. My mentor uses the analogy of resisting an emotion is like trying to hold a beach ball underwater. Right? If you've ever done that, you know like it takes a lot of energy to keep pushing it down, to keep pushing it down. And eventually it will pop back up from somewhere else. Right. And that's what we do with our emotions. Like if I keep it bottled in, if I keep pushing it down, if I keep trying to tell myself I'm okay then I don't have to feel this thing. Or if I distract myself with food and alcohol and you know, Netflix, whatever else it is, every other thing under the sun, then maybe I can get away from feeling this. But we know we can't. And that's why it always pops up. That's why it turns into either physical ailments or it turns into like other secondary emotions. We're angry all the time. We're anxious all the time. We're depressed all the time. Whatever it is is cause we're not processing what's happening to us or what we're going through or what situations we've encountered in our life. And the reason so many us of our are so so scared of getting stuck with emotion, I think, I've heard this a lot where it's like we're so afraid of giving quote unquote giving into the negative emotion that we'll get stuck in sadness or we'll get stuck in grief or we'll get stuck in whatever it is. And that only comes because we haven't actually processed, that only comes through the resistance cuz like that feeling's gonna stay until you learn how to process it. And when you haven't done that your whole life, you just, because you haven't been taught, it's not like a blaming thing. Nobody has taught us anything about our emotions or about our thoughts or what we're supposed to do about 'em, right. And to the contrary, we have been basically taught to just get over it. stop crying, right? Like big boys don't cry, big girls don't cry. Pull up your big girl pants. Like we've all been given this idea by society that like emotions are a problem. They're bad. You gotta try to get rid of them as quick as possible. And I just think like that is why so many of us have such a hard time like handling it because we don't know what to do with them. And just like that beach ball analogy when you don't keep trying to push it under water, when you just let the beach ball float on the water, it's so effortless. Right? It's just there floating. It doesn't require a lot of energy. And when you can learn to process your emotions and you can learn to let them flow through you, all emotions, good ones and bad ones, right. We don't have such a need to try to constantly chase happiness and hold onto it and make sure that it sticks, even though it never will. And we don't have such a fear of feeling the negative emotion. Cause I want you to think about like in your everyday life, think about what it would feel like to go into a job interview, instead of constantly ruminating on like I might not get it, I might not get it, they're gonna hate me, they're not gonna like me. And you're gonna get yourself so nervous to the point where your performance suffers and how different it would feel to think: yeah, I don't know how this is gonna go and the worst-case scenario is that I'm gonna get rejected again. Right? Maybe this is like job interview number 30. It's like hey, I've done disappointment before I can do it again. I'll feel that disappointment. I won't make it mean anything about me and I'll be on to the next one. Well of course, I’m not saying you want that to happen. Obviously, you're gonna try to put in the work. But I think even thinking that way is gonna let you show up differently in the interview and you're gonna have more of a chance of getting the job, right? It's like so many of us, by becoming so fixated on trying to control something, on not wanting to feel something, we end up creating that result. Right. Thought that we don't wanna have creates the result we don't want. And so I just want you, like as you're going through your day and as you're trying to figure out like what you're feeling, I would say like first, try to name the actual emotion. When you get to a place where you're feeling anxious, try to name like what is that anxiety? Is it it worry? Are you nervous about something? Again, like is it embarrassment? Is it shame that you're trying to cover up? What is it? Like is it a feeling of not good enough? And that anxiety is there cuz it's constantly trying to get you to kind of do more. If you really get clear on what it is, then you can start kind of tackling it. And then the second part is really understanding like what do I control in this situation? And I'm gonna give you the answer. This is an open book test. The only thing you control is how you're gonna think and feel and act when the worst-case scenario or the thing that you don't want happens. That's it.

And when you can start realizing that like I can handle that. That's okay. I've gotten these negative emotions before. I'll process that when it happens. It instantly can lower the amount of resistance and fear that you have going into that event. So I just want you to remember that all of your control, all of your power comes in in the second part, in handling whatever negative emotion is gonna happen if the thing you want comes to pass and the more you find yourself worrying about the first part, like what's gonna happen, I don't know what's gonna happen. What if I don't get it? I want you to catch yourself and move yourself to part two. Just repeat after me. Yeah, I have no idea how this is gonna turn out and I know I will be okay and I know I can handle negative emotion and I know I will just have to feel some vibrations in my body and I can do that. Whatever your version of and is, whatever is something that you can believe is, the more you can get yourself to there, the more you can drop the need to control the first part because it was just an illusion anyways that you controlled anything. This is just accepting what reality is. They're like I don't control a lot and that's scary but I'm learning to feel my feelings and I'm learning to process my emotions and I know I can handle whatever comes up cuz I don't really have a choice otherwise. And so I'm not gonna make myself feel terrible beforehand thinking that that's gonna make any difference to what happens if things don't go the way I want. I'll I constantly tell my brain like I get it brain, if this thing happens, we're gonna feel terrible. I already know. It's okay, we can feel terrible then, we don't have to start now. In case you guys didn't know I talk to my brain a lot but that just helps me to kind of quickly be like yeah, why am I creating so much unnecessary, negative emotion right now when I'm just gonna have to feel it when I get there? Alright, I can handle it there. So take some time to catch yourself first. The first step will be like catching yourself in the anxiety and then asking yourself like where am I trying to control the uncontrollable? And where can I just be okay with the fact that I will have to feel some negative feelings? And if you want help learning how to process emotion and learning how to stop being so afraid of 'em and how to choose and redirect to thoughts that help you feel more calm, then I want you to get on the wait list for Pave Your Path. We are opening up doors in March for the next group. It's a small group and this work is life-changing. It's six months of teaching you all of the skills that you need in order to learn how to actually go through this life without so much unnecessary suffering. So if you're interested, you can go to and sign up for the wait list. I would suggest getting on the wait list because I open it up to the wait list first and there's a limited amount of spots. So if you want to take this work deeper together, get on the wait list and I hope to see you there. It's And until then, my friends focus on the second part. Stop trying to control the uncontrollable. Alright, I will see you guys next week for another episode.

Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, share it with someone else. I promise you know somebody who also hates their job and wants to quit, so why not share the love? And if you want to come follow along for more, come join me on Instagram at LessonsFromAQuitter and make sure you say hi. I'll see you next week for another episode.