This week’s podcast came out a little late, listen to find out why. Sharing my own ‘default patterns’ and how slowly but surely we can change them.
Hey, everyone. Today I want to talk about anxiety and acceptance. I think last week I promised I was going to talk to you about Iowa, my trip to Iowa. But, this week a personal thing happened, and I wanted to share it with you guys because I am committed. The one thing I am so committed to on this podcast and in the work that I do is to showcase how living happier is not something that is just a simple one-two-three process. It is something we need to be committed to on a daily basis and make a focus of our lives, if that’s something we want to be doing, because it isn’t just like you can, poof, fix it. It is an ongoing process. So, something happened this week that really showcased that for me. I wanted to be able to share it with you guys because I think it will also hopefully help you and give you a new way of looking at stuff.
But before I get into the story, I want to talk about anxiety and how I believe that anxiety is caused by how we talk to ourselves and the Monger voice that we have. I always say the Monger has three missions: don’t stand out, don’t be too vulnerable, and don’t make a mistake. This story that I’m about to tell you is really about the don’t be too vulnerable piece, which I think is a big one for those of us with anxiety because we don’t like for people to see us sweat and we don’t like people to see us not at our best. So, that’s where the anxiety comes from, as a way to make sure our external image looks better than how we’re feeling on the inside.
So, I wanted to talk about not being too vulnerable, but I also wanted to talk about that the danger of our Monger is not so much that we have this negative voice talking to us, (which is annoying) but the danger of the Monger is that the Monger makes us think someone else knows better. The Monger pulls us out of ourselves and pulls us out of our own loyalty to ourselves. That’s where we get into trouble, and that’s where anxiety comes from, is the idea that someone else knows better and if we can just find that answer, everything will be okay. It’s counterintuitive to turn it back into yourself.
Using those two things, don’t be too vulnerable and the idea of self-loyalty, and want to tell you a personal example of what happened to me this week. It actually happened to my husband, but it also happened to me. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that my husband is dealing with seizures and has had epilepsy since he was around eight years old. It’s a regular part of our lives. It’s something that affects us on a daily basis. While he doesn’t always have grand mals, he frequently has what we call little mini seizures and the side effects of his meds. It’s just a very complex disorder.
But this week, out of the blue, he had two grand mal seizures. It was a real big blow to us because we were trying to get his meds regulated. We had this delusion that we were going to get his seizures under control and he wasn’t going to have any more grand mals. So not only was it a blow because he had the grand mals, it was a blow because the grand mals came differently than they normally do. They were harsher than they normally are. So, there was a number of setbacks from these two grand mals that happened this week, not even to mention the setbacks of what they do to my husband and how crappy they make him feel.
But when the grand mals hit this week, I was in the midst of a very busy week, and a lot of stuff was going on. So, I didn’t deal with it and told myself to soldier on, and suck it up, and it wasn’t that big of a deal, and an all that self-talk that we say to ourselves. What happens when we do that, and what happened to me was then the anxiety comes out in other places. I was very fired up about stuff that is totally out of my control. All of this stuff that was not related to my life at all, I was super opinionated about and extremely aggressive about.
I noticed that pattern for me that I do the drama, drama, drama. If you’ve read the Happier Approach, that’s in there, that one way we deal with our anxiety is we put it onto something else. So, we create drama around stuff that isn’t there. Every time my Biggest Fan this week would kind of say to me, “Hey, sweetheart. What happened to your husband is a big deal. ” Whoa, that’s a lot to handle. I would quickly come in with, “No, no. Think positive. This is no big deal. We expected this. It’s part of the meds,” and would tell myself to, you know, suck it up and move on.
I see that all the time with clients that no matter how hard we try with this acknowledging-your-feelings piece, the default is so strong. The default of, “No, suck it up. We don’t have time for negative feelings. We can’t feel sad. We’re supposed to feel happy. Be positive. Be grateful.” All of those messages are so strong, and there’s nothing wrong with those messages. Absolutely nothing wrong with the messages. The problem is when we only listen to those messages is when we get in trouble. So, this week, I was pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and working, and working, and working, and ignoring how hard and how devastated I was by these seizures. How painful it is to see my husband struggling, how sad it makes me, and how defeated I felt, and all of those negative, yucky emotions I did not want to feel because I was soldiering on and I was being positive.
I wanted to share this story because last night I had this aha. Three days later, I had the aha that I was doing that, that I was ignoring my feelings and I wasn’t acknowledging them. As soon as I realized, “Oh my gosh. I am totally ignoring my feelings, and I’m not acknowledging them,” I thought, “I have to share this on my podcast,” because that shows the power of the default. My default is very strong toward the soldier on and think positive, very, very strong especially when it comes to repetitive feelings.
We’ve been dealing with these seizures for a long time, and so my Monger steps in to be like, “Babe, you know this is happening. This is your life. You have these seizures. Just suck it up and move on. You can’t be getting upset about it every time, or you’ll be upset every time.” I didn’t give myself any grace. There was no room for kindness, or acknowledgment, or any of that. It showcases the strength of the defaults, and I wanted to share that with you guys because don’t give up. Don’t stop this work because your default is strong. Don’t pretend that it isn’t important because your default is strong, because it works.
I can tell you that because last night, literally last night, I was saying to my mom in a tongue in cheek way, “Oh my gosh, this feeling stuff, like really? I’m supposed to acknowledge my feelings about how hard this is with Doug and how much I’m struggling with it and to what end? To what end? Why is that helpful to acknowledge it? I mean, I know I say that’s what I’m supposed to do, but why is that helpful to acknowledge it?” I swear to God, just that little piece, just that little window of acknowledging how hard it was for me, even though I was being tongue in cheek and bantering with my mom, that little window allowed me to feel how hard it was.
When I hung up the phone, I started crying and was like, “Oh my gosh. This week has been devastating. It has been challenging. I have struggled this week.” Being able to say that out loud loosened my neck muscles. It loosened my chest muscles. Everything kind of relaxed a little bit. That didn’t mean that instantaneously I was happy again or instantaneously everything felt better. I think that’s where this myth of, “Oh, if I acknowledged my feelings, then everything will be magically wonderful and positive again.” No, that isn’t the case. But what happens is because you are acknowledging your feelings, and once I started acknowledging what was going on, all that drama that I was making up, all those smoke screens, and stuff I was throwing out into the universe to block the feelings, all of that melted away. It was just me, and my feelings, and the loyalty I had to myself, and what am I going to do moving forward.
I think that’s the power of acknowledging what’s really going on. What are you really feeling? And it gives us this clarity, this crystal clear clarity that comes through to be like, “Oh babe, this is hard right now, and that’s okay. We can move forward.” The energy is so much more calm, and relaxed, and less anxious. But when we are putting up all these smoke screens and we’re trying to be like, “It’s happy. It’s fine. It’s no big deal. I mean, I knew we had seizures when I married him, so this is just one more thing we got to deal with. We’re moving on. Here we go. We’re going to be choosing happiness. Maybe I need to meditate more, and maybe I need to journal more because I got to get through this somehow,” notice how my energy goes up like this when I start talking like that. It’s anxiety.
When I can be calm and say, “Oh, sweet pea, this is hard right now. We can get through this though, but it’s hard,” that’s such a different, more calm energy. I think that is the key to building acceptance of what comes up for you. I noticed this week that it would come up and I would be like, “Oh, this is so hard.” Then, immediately in would come, “Don’t go there. Don’t go there. Just be positive. Soldier on. You do not have time to deal with these feelings right now.” That message of ignoring what’s happening to you, do not have acceptance, keep throwing up the smokescreen, that just builds our anxiety tenfold. So, that’s why the title of this podcast is called Anxiety and Acceptance because I think part of the key to dealing with our anxiety is having some acceptance of what’s happening in our lives because we spend so much time trying to mask that with the shoulds, and the shoulds bring the drama. All of that is why we don’t deal with what’s going on in front of us.
So, just to recognize the power of acknowledging your feelings and noticing the defaults you have. I know one of my big default is I tend to get very hopped up about politics and what’s happening in the culture around me when I’m not acknowledging what’s going on in my life. So yes, there is stuff to get hopped up about, but it doesn’t have to take over my entire life. So instead of dealing with what was really going on in my life, I’m dealing with something that’s completely out of my control. That for me, I know that’s a default. I can recognize now when that happens. I need to check in and find out what’s really going on.
That’s what I encourage you to do is to start figuring out what are your defaults. What are the things you do when you don’t acknowledge your feelings? When your anxiety is hopped up, what is it you do? Then, how can you put a stop in that default and start changing the way you’re programmed. Because the defaults are there. I believe, the part that’s missing in the self-help personal development growth world, is we don’t talk enough about those default patterns that are hardwired. They were put in when we were kids, and we have just used those methods to survive our lives. They have helped us, and they’re hurting us at the same time. So, we need to figure out what those default patterns are so we can start putting in stops and doing a different way, changing the default a different way.
So, where I used to do this pattern that I spoke of today for weeks or months at a time, now I can do it in a couple of days, and I can recognize, “Whoa. You’re a little out of control here. Let’s slow down.” I can go back to the methods that I have that I know that work for me, you know, cutting off social media, taking some time out, doing some journaling. I can come back to the place of acceptance and understanding of my anxiety instead of trying to fight it, fight it, fight it.
So, I hope that story was helpful. Like I said, next week I’ll be back talking about Iowa. I promise I’ll get to this Iowa thing. It’s going to be a good one, I promise on that, too.
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And if you have any questions, please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Okay, that’s the show. Thanks for listening. The Happiness Hacks Podcast comes out every week. If you have questions, please email me, email@example.com, or you can follow me on Instagram @nancyjane_livehappier. Until next time, here’s to Living Happier.
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