So in the spirit of confessing: I admit over the past few days I have been in a bit of a mood. I have been overly anxious and a bit grouchy, many of my ‘go to’ things weren’t working. The activities that normally ‘fill up my bucket’
weren’t helping me improve my mood.
Then I realized I was in run mode–Ah run mode–fortunately these days it is something that doesn’t rear it’s head very often. For years, it was my standard way of living. I would always be in run mode. What is run mode you are asking? Run mode is when you have something big in your life, that you aren’t facing. Maybe it is a big stressor or sadness, maybe it is a conflict or a fear. It can be something quite small–but your mind convinces yourself that it is HUGE and you need to run. So you run from thing to thing–you run from activity to activity looking for something to fill the hole to fill the anxiety that has been created by this stressor. Some signs of run mode for me are: nothing satisfies me, tendency to be extremely anxious and critical (of self and others), and a fear of being alone so I book myself up with activities. The point is I run from myself so I can focus on running and anxiety and not on the stressor. Sometimes if you are really good at it (like I was) you can put your stressor energy onto something completely unrelated like your relationship, children, friends. So you might start a fight with a partner because you know it is ‘safe’ and you can put all your stress energy on to that fight.
The KEY is to face the fear, anger, conflict, sadness not to run from it. The first key is to notice that you are in run mode at all. For example, yesterday as I was driving home and realized I had an entire evening of no plans, I went into a cold sweat. Because I usually look forward to an evening of no plans, I had an immediate awareness that something was wrong and I realized ‘hey I am in run mode’. I came home and started journaling and eventually came to what was REALLY going on. At first you might not catch yourself in run mode until days later, or it will be 1 day later and then it will be in the moment. The goal is to catch yourself before you do too much collateral damage.
Once you catch yourself in run mode then the goal is to figure out what is REALLY stressing you, what is the source: a conflict, anger, sadness. To do this it is helpful to get quiet with yourself, to journal, take a walk or talk to a friend. In essence, the goal is to do the opposite of what you really want to do: stop running and face yourself. But the beauty is once you stop running and face the issue it becomes much less powerful. Once you express the emotions you have been running from (e.g. cry, scream, yell, etc) you will wonder why you have spent all that time running.
This is a powerful and challenging process. Like I said I have been working on this issue for years–spiraling up
. It is one of those that we need to stay aware of. Much of the every day anxiety we feel is because we are in run mode–we are trying to avoid something that might be negative so we create anxiety around other things to keep the stress/conflict at bay. It might feel counter-intuitive but we actually Live Happier when we are able to face our emotions and not default to run mode. What are your run mode symptoms? What tends to be your trigger for run mode (conflict, anger, sadness)?