Anxiety Pt. 1: Addressing everyday anxiety with self-awareness & trust

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Let’s talk about anxiety! Anxiety is something we’ve all dealt with at one time or another. In this episode, Jamie-Clare de la Chapelle, our Community Experience Director, joins me for a live coaching session. We’re talking through all-things-anxiety: 

  • A new way to address everyday anxiety
  • Learning to interpret to your body’s physical signals (like throat constriction, chest tightness, shortness of breath) 
  • The power of reconnecting to what matters most to you

Whether you struggle with chronic anxiety, have been diagnosed with a panic disorder, or are acutely experiencing a challenging circumstance (i.e. you’ve been on planet earth recently…)—your anxiety is an important way your body is communicating with you. Pushing through anxiety, rather than getting to the root cause, won’t make your anxiety go away! Ignoring anxiety actually makes it grow in intensity until it finally gets your attention.  

At its core—anxiety is a failed attempt to control the future. Worrying that you somehow won’t be able to handle what comes next often fuels an ever-widening infinity loop of worst-case scenarios to play on re-run in your mind and heart.

  1. What are the specific thoughts that cause anxiety for you?
  2. Is it fear of inadequacy? Fear of failure? Fear of disappointing another?
  3. Where did your need to control the future first begin?

When you’ve been in survival mode for a while, it can be difficult to “switch off” your heightened state of anxiety—even when the danger has subsided.  

Are you ready to step into peace and self-confidence?  If so, it’s time to  build the muscle of self-trust by discovering or reconnecting to your higher purpose. 

A connection to what matters most will provide you with purpose and meaning. This more purposeful version of yourself will not make the fear go away, but it will fuel the courage to move forward anyways!  Think of a time in your life that you felt you made a difference.  Bring that time to mind.  What were you doing? What were you a part of? What got you out of bed in the morning? What impact were you making? 

All the personal power you need to address your anxiety is within you.

When your conviction is strong, you will trust yourself to take on challenges and accomplish anything you set your mind to!

Part 2 of this 3-part series is up next, where JC and I talk through five practical steps to address anxiety in the moment.

 

HERE’S OUR CONVERSATION: 

Doctor Neha Sangwan: Hi, everybody, and welcome. Today I have a special guest Jamie-Clare.  Jamie Clare is on our team and helps me with social media and educates me on all things, tech and millennial. So I’m so excited to have you with us today. Welcome, JC.

Jamie-Clare de la Chapelle: Thank you, Dr. Neha! I’m so excited to be here.

Doctor Neha: Okay, you’re gonna call me Neha, moving forward, right? I appreciate that’s like Southern,

J.C.: I’m working on it!

Doctor Neha: Well, I’m so glad to have you here. I’m going to call you J.C.or Jamie-Clare.  I’ll use whatever flavor I feel like in the moment. So tell me, what do you want to talk about? Or what’s on your mind?

J.C.: So I feel like all of us, in general, globally, are kind of struggling with anxiety in a form that we haven’t before. I think you’ve talked a lot about the trauma, the global trauma that we’ve experienced. And honestly, I commiserate with that or resonate with that, because I actually was diagnosed with PTSD. Last summer, just following some kind of crazy events in my personal life. And so in working through that, it’s kind of like working through an anxiety disorder. At least on my end, it has been. And so I’ve, honestly, as the new year has kind of come around I have. I’m a contract marketer. So I have my clients in place for the year and my husband is in a good place with his career and kind of for the first time, we’re starting the new year, and a place that feels grounded and in a good, exciting place, a stable place. And so I think for the first time in like, five years, I feel like I’m not in like survival mode. So I would just like some advice as to like how to get out of that survival mode, because I think in some ways, I’m still in a hurry. Or, like some getting out of bed in the morning still feels intimidating some days. But I don’t know, I don’t, there’s no reason for it to be intimidating. Like, I am in a great place, you know. And so I would, I would just like to talk through how to get into a good place when the vet is so warm in the morning, and life feels really intimidating. How to get out of that headspace and to get to my best self, my most authentic self, instead of living from a place of anxiety. of stress.

Doctor Neha: Exactly.

I think the first thing you want to do is thank it—thank all of that ability inside of you to push through all of that survival and end up in this secure place—one you’re almost unfamiliar with what it sounds like.

J.C.: YES! I’m sitting here thinking, “I don’t know how to do this… I don’t know how to live where I’m not strung out. I’m going to work out every day for fun. Like, who am I?”

Doctor Neha: I think it’s kind of incredible! Just take a pause, for a moment, reflect on your circumstances, and see how far you’ve come. New challenges will arise from this space of if you let your guard down.

What if you just started enjoying and creating these amazing online experiences and communities for your clients? What if life could be fun and easy? What would that feel like?

J.C.: Yeah, I don’t know…

Doctor Neha: I think it starts with body wisdom. When the outside world feels so hard, and we’re trying to make ends meet—it’s pretty easy to get stuck in overdrive, that revved-up state that’s hyper vigilant and always feels behind.

Sometimes people even use that hyperdrive as a way to motivate themselves. But in those moments, when you’re uncertain and you don’t know why you’re moving forward—if you can elevate your mind to something greater than surviving the next moment, you can elevate to the next level that comes after anxiety… which is purpose.

It’s your commitment to creating something good in the world that makes a difference that matters and changes people’s lives. Your purpose pulls you from your world of dreaming to your world of doing. That transition from a warm cozy bed into the world is driven usually by the excitement to create something.

Let’s go back to your anxiety. I think what’s really brilliant as you’re realizing “hyperdrive” and this “anixety mode” is not your current reality. For a while it was…

J.C.: Yeah, for a minute there!

Doctor Neha: There’s a moment where you transition from school or being with your parents to living on your own. It’s almost like jumping on a treadmill that’s going too fast—it’s like, “Whoa, there’s so many things here! How’s this all gonna work?”

And then when you do that for a while, it’s that adaptation phase where you start running at that pace,. You train your neuronal pathways, your biology—”This is who I am, and this is the state it will take to get us where we’re going.”

So tell me, what are the thoughts that most typically run through your mind that rev up that anxiety?

 

J.C.: Probably fear of inadequacy or fear of failure. Add in fear of conflict or fear of disappointing someone.

I’m quite a people pleaser, but I’m working on it. I don’t want to be a people pleaser.

 

Doctor Neha: Tell me tell me how that showed up. Bring me back to the younger you. Who were you trying to please? What was going on that made you learn to do it so well?

 

J.C.:Well, I grew up with three brothers, and I’m the only girl.

 

Doctor Neha: Are they older than you?

 

J.C.: I have two older brothers and then one that’s five years younger than I am. We were a really tight knit family growing up.

Have you ever heard of the book, The Highly Sensitive Person, by Dr. Elaine Aaron? It was a fantastically impactful book for me personally. I find myself a lot in the “highly sensitive person” category—I absorb the feelings of those around me, I take on their burdens as my own.

I don’t do this in a “people pleaser” sense necessarily, but I deeply about the feelings of those around me! It matters to me. When I’m in a room, I quickly notice if someone feels uncomfortable. I just notice that very readily, very suddenly. I pick up on emotions and subtle, underlying things.

So I think, in a large family, when you begin to serve other people’s needs—which is wonderful, and in some ways, a good thing—sometimes, I feel like maybe I did that too often and forgot that I had needs, too. I forgot to say no, sometimes.

So, that’s probably where the need to have someone’s approval started for me.

 

Doctor Neha: Yeah, and you got a lot of practice reading people because there wasn’t just one person—there were three other siblings and two parents to please!

You have great awareness about where all of your anxiety starts and about your own intuition. You called it being a “highly sensitive person,” I would say that means you’re incredibly intuitive.

The part about you picking up on your environment—it starts when you’re little, in order to get your own needs met. How quickly your diaper gets changed is due in part to how well you can influence others make them smile, cry, let them know something’s wrong. Your entire survival depends on your ability to influence others and you learn very quickly as a child what makes people laugh, what brings them to you sooner, and how to get your needs met.

You do this in relation to the adults around you.

Growing up, it’s a pretty intimate experience when we we become the souls on earth, that our survival and our comfort is dependent on our ability to understand what motivates other people. We learn that.

You’re really sensitive, and you pick up on your environment. That’s such a great thing—except you still haven’t individuated and become your own being. Oftentimes, people go through their whole family lives with blurred family boundaries  and not really knowing where they end and another person begins. Family relationships become all about keeping the peace.

What would happen in your family with conflict? When conflict shows up, what happens then?

 

J.C.: Oh, yeah, conflict does show up.

 

Doctor Neha: Do people blow up? Do they ignore it? Do they? What would happen next?

J.C.: No, we didn’t ignore it, and people didn’t blow up, not often anyway. If it was the siblings fighting, my mom  would make us sit at the table, and we had to talk it out and figure it out! Basically, and she would moderate. the conversation between us.

If it was like a private conversation with mom and dad, I’m just a naturally loud, expressive person, and so I probably raised my voice. But we’ve never screamed or yelled at each other.

So in dealing with conflict, it usually ended up being a good experience, in terms of “everybody’s gonna come to the table”—literally and figuratively—to solve the problem. But what I struggle with is when we get to the end, and we don’t agree, but I still have to respect your opinion… But I still think you’re wrong!

 

Doctor Neha: So tell me a time then, where you have disappointed yourself disappointed or someone else—when conflict was not been a good experience for you.

 

J.C.: So once upon a time, when I started dating my husband, I had three very protective brothers who weren’t sure they were fans at first. Now everybody absolutely adores each other, and it’s a wonderful family experience—but at the time, six years ago, it was difficult to know that I’d found my better half, looking at this other person, and not have my family accepted, adore that person right off the bat.

My family is very accepting in general. They’re just loving and kind of take in “strays.” We fostered some kids and had foreign exchange students every summer. Anyway, my family is very accepting and loving, and so it was just a very weird experience for me to have to individuate, like you said, and stand on my own two feet and say, “Well, this is the life I imagined for myself. And so I’m gonna choose it.” And then say, “You experienced him this way, but that’s not what I saw and see every day.”

To be able to say what I believed to be true and stand on my own opinion was the only time that comes to mind that was really hard to say what was on my mind, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be popular.

 

Doctor Neha: Well, I have a feeling your mom raised you for that moment. You’re coming to the table, sitting down, talking it out, figuring it out, and being able to disagree at the end. Agree to disagree.

In that place, the vision you had for your future and the emotion and connection you had for your partnership was strong enough that it could withstand that discord. I think you also know your brothers—they want the best for you. You know that your your family loves you, and I can hear in your voice that family is core for you.

And the discord there felt like the biggest vibration of who you were, the biggest conflict you had faced, et cetera.

Let me ask you—what are you afraid of? What if you do fail?

What if you don’t measure up? What if you disappoint someone else, then what’s going to happen?

 

J.C.: Well, I’ve definitely experienced that before. So the biggest example that comes to mind is in my second job out of college, so five, six years ago. I worked at this wonderful place, a textile manufacturer, but the person who hired me was only my boss for about five or six months. Then someone else was given the role. It was a woman, and all of the people in the department were women. There was just some looking over shoulders, micromanagement, and kind of anxiety-inducing, stressful things at work.

I thought for 12 months that I was crazy, and then, in those last six months, I was reading a book called Safe People by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend. In those pages, I found my boss! As I was reading, I was thinking, “Oh, I’m not nuts! THIS is what’s going on!”

So I started to notice some patterns in myself, too, that were unhealthy in people pleasing there. Thankfully, my husband got a different job, and we moved—it was a natural transition away from that job for me.

I was really grateful, and now I’ve been in contract marketing and love it, but it does feel very high stakes. People looking to me for answers, and I don’t I don’t want to disappoint people. But at the same time, my vision to create meaningful content—I have such a passion for that. I know that I can be really good at it. So I stepped out to face that fear, even though I tremble.

 

Doctor Neha: That’s the that’s the key, right? That your vision and your purpose to use your gifts and your skill sets to meet a need of the world—that feeling, that energy, that alignment gives you drive to push past the fear.

As long as that sense of purpose is greater than your fear, you will always move forward.

The idea of what your purpose is might transition over time. It might look a little bit different, evolve a little bit more over time. Just like you were saying—meaningful content—what’s meaningful to someone in their 20s is different than what’s meaningful to someone in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and so on.

If I asked someone you know, that’s between the ages of 0 to 10, “What do you want?” They would answer “Candy, more sugar, to play with my friend, to stay up late, to watch the iPad.”

If I talked to someone between the ages of 11 to 20., and I say, “What do you want?” They might say, “To be cool with my friends, to date someone I like, to be perceived as hot, to have the most likes on Instagram.”

Then somebody’s in their 20s would answer, “Oh, I want to be on my own two feet, to find my path,” and then in their 30s, they would answer, “I want to build a family.”

40s — To be successful in my career

50s — Thinking about legacy, how am I going to leave something to the world that have meaning and matter

60s — grandparents, it’s all about my kids, giving back, and telling the stories, mentoring, and teaching and the lessons

And then it becomes about health—maybe declining health, staying strong and flexible and out of a nursing home.

That’s just a basic cross decades things that changes—so your purpose will change and evolve with you, too. I think it’s important that you get really clear that you’re not just a content marketer, you’re a content marketer for meaningful material. You seem to really love learning and taking on responsibility.

If I tell you, “I have people that can help you do XYZ,” your first answer to me is, “Let me see if I can figure out how to do it myself.” So there’s an independence in you, which is great. There’s this desire not just to market content, but to market meaningful content.

So, in those moments in bed, when you doubt yourself or you feels really warm and cozy here… It’s only going to be a connection to being a better version of yourself, a more purposeful endeavor that would get you moving consistently. Motivation is a deep connection to that purpose.