Tag Archives: choices

4 Steps to Effectively Manage Worry and Anxiety

merry-go-round

Worry is like being on a spinning ride minus the thrill of excitement. Instead worry is  experiencing spinning thoughts filled with what-ifs. One worry leads to another worry with no clear direction of how to stop the dizzying spin.

Worry is not only spinning in circles, but it is also a narrow, negative assumption of future problems. When we worry, we assume we can’t handle something that hasn’t happened yet. Worry makes it hard to enjoy the moment or embrace the way it is.

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.” ~ Glenn Turner

Are you tired of your worry stopping you in your tracks? When you believe your worry is true, you’ll react as if you or someone you care about is  threatened. Humans are the only creatures who can turn their stress response (fight or flight) on by imagining threatening situations in their mind.

4 Steps to Manage Worry & Anxiety:

It’s time to take your mind back. Step-by-step, learn how to manage your anxiety and worry by sorting out your automatic reactions to perceived threats.

Step 1. Slow Down and Reflect: Since most reactions are outside of our awareness, first slow down and reflect on how you got yourself so worked up. When you notice your heart racing, head aching, or stomach flopping, reflect on what you are anxious about. What are you interpreting as a threat to you or someone you care about? Bringing this into your awareness is the first step to accessing those calmer thoughts.

Step 2. Sort Worry from Reality: People can worry about almost anything and be convinced that their worry is true. It’s important to know the difference between your worry (anxiety = what if) and reality (fact = what is), so you can eventually choose which one you want to think and act on.

For example, your tween daughter comes home concerned about an argument she had with her friends on the playground. You worry that her friends won’t treat her well, and that your daughter can’t handle the problem without your help. The reality is friendships change and you can’t do much about what goes on during recess within your tween’s social circle.

Before you start to give your daughter advice, she tells you how she plans on handling the situation the next day. She just gave you evidence that she is prepared to handle the problem herself, and doesn’t need adults to step in. She just wants you to know what is going on, and needs a warm hug and ear to hear her out.

Step 3. Make a Choice: In this example, you have identified your worry as the following what if: unsure your tween can handle her own problems and wanting to protect her. You also identified the reality as the following what is: your tween has given evidence that she doesn’t need an adult to help her manage the social problems. You could very easily hold onto both of these ways of thinking about the problem,  and stay worried about something you can’t control.

Or you can choose which way you want to think about the problem, so you don’t have to absorb emotional responsibility for something you can’t change in the future. If you choose to only think about the reality of the situation, you will be freeing yourself from holding onto the worry. In that moment, you choose to focus on the facts of reality more than your anxiety about social threats, you set yourself free from worry.

Step 4. Confirm Actions Match Choice: This step can naturally happen once you choose to focus on reality, not worry. But other times, you will need to identify how your actions match the choice in thinking you just made.

For example, if you are choosing to focus on how you think your tween can learn to manage her own social problems, but start giving her advice. Then you just fell back into worry and unsureness. It’s easy to pick a worry back up when your actions don’t match your calm thinking. Instead, identify how your actions can match your thinking about the problem.

Most people skip steps, and try to act less worried. But it is our thoughts and choices that determine how we act and interact. It isn’t until you make a choice on how you think about the problem, that you are able to calm yourself down and liberate the worry.

Which step do you have more trouble with when you try to manage your worry?

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Marci offers face-to-face counseling services in the Kansas City, MO area and is available for coaching via Skype. If you are stuck trying to ask those calm thoughts, so you can manage your worry better, Schedule an appointment today.

Photo Credit: Merry-Go-Round by Ronald Meriales

How To Be in Relationship Without Enabling

Relationships can get dirty, especially when you take on others emotional dirt and debris. When you absorb others problems that you have no authority to change, you will get frustrated quickly.

You may feel sorry for your friend or family member, so you rescue them from having to face the natural consequences of their actions. Or maybe you try to solve their problem for them, except the problem keeps continuing.

These are all ways to describe enabling others problem behavior by trying to solve their problem or relieve their consequences. The more an enabler helps, the more irresponsible the other person may become. In this way, some helping can actually let the other person off the hook so much that it hinders their own problem solving. And I know you don’t want to be a part of the problem you are trying to solve!

If you are tired of feeling responsible for others problems and absorbing others emotional dirt, then get ready to establish some boundaries. Allow others to clean up their own emotional and behavioral messes by better defining your choices. In doing so, you value yourself as much as you value others.

What is a boundary?

Most people are very confused about setting boundaries, and they think it is a way to get others to comply with their expectations. Well this is my thought on what a boundary is and is not in relationships:

  • A boundary is NOT getting others to do what we want.
  • A boundary IS defining what we are/are not willing to do.

In this way, setting boundaries may mean you don’t do something even if the other person doesn’t do it either. Deep breath, let’s explore it further.

Boundary Making Steps That Liberate the Enabler:

If you are wanting to stay in a relationship with the person you have been enabling, then make steps towards respecting yourself as much as them.

1. Know Your Choices

You may not realize that you have a choice. How many parents want their kids to be happy, even if it costs them? Or, how many spouses will give in to make their spouse happy? If you step into others choices, you will collect some dirt. I know I have!

Your choices are questions that only you can answer. For instance, a mother pays for her adult son’s rent. She feels sorry for him, and says “he just can’t seem to manage his own money.” This mother has a choice.

2. Define Your Position

Is this mother okay with continuing to support her adult son financially? She is afraid to let her son experience consequences. Yet, she is tired of paying for two rent payments each month. She doesn’t want to let him move in with her, and she doesn’t want to keep paying his rent.

This mother sees her choices and is becoming clearer on her position. That is, what she is willing and not willing to do. Now how does she tell her son?

3. Communicate Your Boundary

Here’s where it gets hard. This mother will come face to face with her fears. Will he still talk to her? Will he argue with her? Will he still need her?

She takes a deep breath, and tells her son, “December is the last month I will pay your rent.” She makes a decision to stop avoiding this difficult topic. She is clear and direct.

This mom doesn’t try to convince him to be more responsible or give him more suggestions on managing his money. These would all communicate that he can’t possible make it without her. She is ready to let him grow up even if he stumbles.

4. Follow Through With Actions

Our actions often speak louder than our words. When you communicate your position, you will need to follow through with your actions.

Your loved one may try to avoid getting dirty, by convincing you he doesn’t know what to do with the “dirt.” He may try to pull you back into being responsible for him or his problem. Be ready to hold onto your new boundary even under pressure from others to cave.

5. Respect Other to Solve Own Problem

When you refuse to fix, rescue, or shape up your friend or family member due it out of respect for them to find their own answers. You are respecting them enough to find their own way, even if that includes experiencing some consequences along the way.

And sometimes when you don’t take responsibility for someone else’s irresponsibility, they just might surprise you by finding a way to manage the problem on their own. Even if it’s not the way you would do it, you are now carrying less of others dirt!

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How to Stop Emotional Eating Habits

Have you ever had a stressful day and reached for a bag of chips or chocolate bar without thinking?

Food is comforting, satisfying, and calming to the brain. So it is almost automatic to turn to food when you are anxious, tired, or angry. It is among many quick fixes that are proven to help reduce that stressed out feeling.

Of course it’s hard to maintain a healthy weight when food is your only comfort for stress. So many people are looking for ways to stop their emotional eating, especially when it becomes a mindless habit.

To explore the topic of conquering emotional eating, I have invited Lauren Chitwood, Health Coach for Take Shape for Life, to share her empowering story.

Marci: Many people struggle to set new goals for their health because they feel helpless about change. What helped you begin to shift how you thought about changing your habits?

Lauren: I knew I had to make a change in my life when I noticed my medical bills increasing. I was gaining weight each month and nothing I tried was working. I realized that I had an unhealthy relationship with food, and I wanted to stop being on yo-yo diets.

My feet hurt from carrying extra weight, and I was concerned about preventing diabetes. I knew my health was declining, and decided I could no longer put off making a permanent change in my eating habits. It was getting hard to enjoy being active with my family.

Marci: Many people turn to food for comfort during stressful or lonely times. Was this true for you?

Lauren: I was a stress eater. It was very easy for me to turn to food for comfort. One of my unhealthy habits was stopping at Quick Trip on my way home from work. I was stressed about my day and anxious about keeping up with my family’s evening activities.

I convinced myself that I deserved to grab a snack on my way home to have “me” time. I would eat a combination of candy, chocolate, salty foods, and diet pop. By the time I arrived home, I had eaten everything and felt guilty about my binge.

Marci: How did you stop turning to food for emotional reasons?

Lauren: I haven’t eliminated all stress or chaos, but I have found a new way to comfort myself. When I feel the urge to turn to comfort food, I stop myself by performing the following “Stop-Challenge-Choose” exercise:

  • Do Self-Inventory: “Why am I desiring junk food? Am I feeling anxious, bored, or stressed?”
  • Think about Long-Term Goals: “If I eat this candy/food will I sabotage my progress and possibly put myself off course?”
  • Replace Food: Find another way to calm myself that isn’t food.

Marci: What helps you stay motivated to keep working on your health goals?

Lauren: I read some books by Dr. Wayne Anderson explaining how motivation effects your results. Developing “outcome oriented motivation” instead of “conflict driven motivation” is what’s led me to maintaining my health and weight loss goals.

“Conflict driven motivation” is when an emotional conflict leads you to take action. Once you take action, you start to feel better. Yet your motivation to follow through on your goal decreases when you feel better. I realized this was the classic yo-yo dieting pattern I had tried with no lasting results.

“Outcome oriented motivation” focuses on what you want, not what you don’t want.  It focuses on a desired state that you want to create. I envision what optimal health means to me:

  • I want to stabilize my blood sugar, have healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • I want to run a 5K with my family.
  • I want to wear a tank top and shorts and be full of energy.
  • I want to be active even when I am a grandmother.

Shifting my motivation toward these goals helps me get through holiday parties and buffet lines. Focusing on the outcome I want helps me keep the weight off that I have  lost.

Marci: If your progress slows or you take a step backward, how do you get yourself back on track?

Lauren: Life still gets bumpy, but I keep my forward thinking goals in front of me and keep on moving toward my goals. When my weight loss slows down, I also take a deep breath and remember how far I have traveled on my journey. I look at the fact that I’ve made significant progress in a short amount of time. I hold onto knowing that I have found the last weight loss program I would ever need.

Marci: What unexpected benefits have you encountered along your journey?

Lauren: Losing weight and regaining my health has changed my life in ways I never expected. I had become socially reclusive, stopped reaching out to new relationships, and ignored my old friendships. I was embarrassed by how much weight I had gained, so I avoided people and social events. Emotionally I felt like a failure when I let food have control over me.

As I began losing weight, I almost immediately felt like I was back in control. That was one of the most empowering moments of my life. If I could conquer my food addiction, I could conquer anything!

As I continued losing weight, my social, friendly, and caring personality started to return. I began forming new relationships and reconnecting with old ones. I have a new level of confidence and sureness that I never embraced before now.

Marci: I want to thank Lauren for joining us today and sharing her struggles with food as well as her triumphs. Having only known Lauren after her health transformation, it’s hard to imagine her ever feeling insecure and unsure. She truly has transformed not only the outside but the inside too!

Anyone else have a question for Lauren about her health transformation or the program she coaches?

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Lauren guest

Lauren Chitwood is a Certified Health Coach with Take Shape for Life. Lauren has a passion for coaching others who are struggling with their weight and health goals. Watch this video to learn more about the Take Shape for Life Program, inluding free health coaching.