thoughts on anxiousness

anxiouscharacterized by extreme uneasiness of mind about some contingency 

contingencyan event that may but is not certain to occur

(Merriam Webster)

READ THIS OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF:

extreme uneasiness of mind about an event not certain to occur

Why are we spending so much time thinking about our hypothetical futures?

Anxiety is at epidemic proportions in the world.  I’m personally having far too many sleepless nights lately.  I want to get a handle on my it before it affects my health, my choices and how I respond to events in my life, both big and small.

Research always makes me feel settled down.  I dug in this morning.

FAST COMPANY ARTICLE BY HALEY GOLDBERG: “When we stare into a fuzzy crystal ball, it’s easy to start to worry about what’s inside, like a present we can never unwrap. And it feels productive. Studies show that we often believe worrying can prevent negative outcomes or it can help us find a better way of doing things.”  FAST COMPANY ARTICLE

These three words really stood out to me…it feels productive.   “FEELS” is the cue I needed to settle my brain down a little bit.  Feels implies it isn’t productive at all, our brain has been tricked into thinking that the act of worrying is somehow keeping bad things from happening.

If my brain can be TRICKED, then my brain can also call bullshit when it notices the trickery.  Not every time, but with practice, at least increase the frequency of noticing.

Today, I feel anxious about a few big things happening in my life right now…my father is in the hospital, my three young adult children are all in transition and my life is going to change quite dramatically in the next few months. And yet…

“I know what to do, even when I don’t know what to do.”

I’m trying to remind myself that, even though THE FUTURE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE UNCERTAIN, I believe I can handle whatever the universe throws at me.

Handling it, might mean falling apart, calling upon my team to steady me and going through a period of deep grief and sorrow.

Correct me if I’m wrong, that’s still handling it, right?

I try to remind myself of this often.

 

 

compassion & purpose

so challenging & so necessary…

When my kids were little I wanted to see all of the similarities to me and other family members…moles, mannerisms and so much more.  Those observations were really fun—welcomed and celebrated.

However, as a parent of young adults I’m acutely aware of how they are differentiating themselves now.  It isn’t easy to “parent” their emerging adulthood and separateness, but it’s really quite necessary.

differentiate lisa lillibridge

I’m trying to understand their choices and what they represent—freedom, a (hopefully) healthy sense of self and discovering their place in the world.  This is really important work for all of us. I feel more compassionate and slightly less pissed off when I access how I felt at sixteen or twenty years old. Sorry Mom and Dad.  I had to do what I had to do.

Our kids are trying to understand this brand new adulthood thing and the process is a little clunky (to say the least) for everyone.  Young adults that on occasion still need us like they are little kids.  Little kids who want the privileges that come with adulthood.  And parents who would much rather be snuggled up reading bedtime stories than watching the clock and waiting to hear the car pull in the driveway.

I don’t want to spend a lifetime feeling like there should’ve been one more book read.  One more camp.  One more trip.  One more lesson.  One more skill taught. One more ______________ (fill in the blank). If I don’t let go of the ONE MORE(S) they will keep us all from moving forward.  I’m pretty sure we all want to keep moving forward.

First, I must acknowledge the loss.

Then I have to let them go and trust our imperfect past.

Being my own best friend…

and modeling that for my children is really important to me.  I find this concept to be really crucial in my adult development.  I didn’t really understand this until I was entering middle-age. As an introvert, I’ve always loved my time alone.  However, the concept of really being my own best friend took years to fully integrate.  Thankfully, Lisa and I finally have this all pretty well figured out now…even though she can be a total pain in the ass sometimes.  I love her in spite of her flaws.

self love definedmy own best friend lillibridge

My Positive Psychology teacher Tal Ben-Shahar frequently reiterates that we have to give ourselves “permission to be human”.  This doesn’t mean that we have to accept every one of our behaviors as—”oh well, that’s me” and not even try to self correct.  It does mean however, that when we screw up, we can take notice, mend the damage, alter our behavior, move on and try to do it a little bit differently next time.

As our own BFF we have to encourage ourselves just as we would encourage a friend who is going through some of life’s trials.

own best friend lillibridge dakota

 

I would love to cut short some of these challenging years for my three children.  The hard years when we often aren’t so kind to ourselves…teens and early twenties.  I guess some lessons are like learning to walk before we crawl though. We simply can’t shortchange the steps.

Some of our growth requires more years of life’s joys and sorrows coupled with the experience and wisdom that follows. Regardless, I believe we can start talking to our children at a very young age about being their own best friend, enjoying their own company and knocking back negative self talk.