When she looked and focused on things that would heighten her anxiety she would slow down and lose her momentum. Of course, Ginger was a bit fatigued. Vince Lombardi is credited with saying, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Well, isn’t it true that we sometimes focus too much on what can go wrong or what is going wrong and it ends up slowing us down, especially when we feel fatigued in some way? I am a slow runner, so keeping up with me isn’t some
That night it occurred to me how we are sometimes like my dog Ginger, our intentions start off in the right direction but we can get distracted by our fears and anxieties. Do you ever catch yourself obsessed with what might go wrong? It’s practical to anticipate roadblocks or speed bumps that lay in our future, but to be consumed by “What could go wrong” will paralyze you or at least keep you from washing your car . . . I once heard my brother in-law explain why he never washes his car, because he doesn’t like the rain or snow. He has noticed that anytime he washes his car, there seems to be a storm the next day. In his case the “inevitable” fact that it will rain or snow after he washes the car stops him. Are you aware of how fears or anxieties paralyze you? Someone once told me going to a motivational speaker was a waste because the positive effect wears off eventually. Really?! The breakfast you ate this morning won’t last all month, it won’t provide you with the energy you need for the rest of the day for most people. So go ahead and eat again. I don’t stop eating out of frustration with the fact that I will just get hungry again. That’s why it’s good to recharge yourself in different ways, and not just with food. So wash your car knowing that eventually it’s going to get dirty again (hopefully it lasts a few days). Read that book you bought to help improve yourself, and remember that it won’t be the last thing you use in this way. My last blog post was about utilizing regret, I don’t recommend focusing on regret, use it just enough to help you keep moving forward. It’s perfectly helpful to be aware of traps and obstacles, just don’t make them your focus.
So what are some ways to manage anxiety to focus on where you are running?
Let me suggest a few things.
1. Practice one of the oldest skills in the book, re-frame your language. Remind yourself to do something, instead of “I hope I don’t forget . . .” Really good teachers use this. For example I observed a savvy teacher purposely master using positive language to guide her students. “Remember to take your assignments home and bring them back on Monday.” Instead of “Don’t forget your homework!” The better you get at this one, the better you become.
2. Master the “Yet” perspective. Frame failures as temporary. “I can’t pay off my debts, yet.” Let that word help you move forward.
3. Paint a small picture in your mind. If you need to clean the entire house but feel overwhelmed, picture yourself dusting the bookcase, not the whole house, yet.
4. Play music, if you need motivation and more energy, play something faster and a bit louder than normal. Need to calm down? Play something peaceful in the background.
5. Chew gum. Seriously,you know it helps. For scientific evidence go here or here.