Hello, Gorgeous Soul.

What I know for sure is that anxiety is nothing to fear, and it’s nothing that defines a person. I help overthinkers, people-pleasers, perfectionists and overachievers learn how to manage their overwhelming thoughts and anxiety. I teach them how to rewire those subconscious beliefs and stories that are creating the majority of that anxiety. And we talk about strategies all the time. I think that’s the thing that you hear the most about when you are looking for help with your anxiety is strategies.

But today, what I want to share is something that I spend a lot of time on with my clients that I think gets missed in the general information that’s out there. It’s not so much what you do when anxiety hits. Those in-the-moment strategies are helpful, but you really also need to be paying attention to how you think about anxiety, your thoughts about your anxiety, your thoughts about yourself as a person who experiences anxiety, and then your thoughts about your thoughts about those thoughts, and so on.

So this episode is more about shifting your mindset and learning how to stop feeling powerless to your anxiety. One of the keys that gets missed to managing anxiety from beginning to end is to become empowered in your thoughts about your anxiety. So that’s what we’re going to do today. Before we do that – I know, I can’t stop talking about this – I just spent all day today, planning and brainstorming and getting things ready for my Rewired AF group that starts in September.

It’s the best program I’ve ever created for real and I’m in the process of working with my team, creating all the video lessons, all the content, the workbook, the welcome gift, this amazing virtual retreat, and more. But those are just things. The overall goal for Rewired AF is to teach you to know your brain backwards, forwards, inside-out. Like I know your brain. I want to teach you how to become your own coach, in a way. You can put your name on the interest list at the bottom of this page, so let me know you’re interested, come learn to get Calm AF by learning to get Rewired AF, meet your future ride-or-dies, and let’s do this together.

BUT. Back to the topic at hand, moving from powerless over your anxiety to empowered with anxiety. So if you’re here, then you probably spend a good chunk of time not feeling Calm AF. You strive to be Calm AF, you practice the strategies you learn here. And sometimes they work, but sometimes they don’t. And sometimes you find yourself waist-deep in an overthinking loop, or you realize you have had an anxiety spin-out after the fact like when you think it’s too late.

So listen to me: it’s normal. This stuff is normal. The goal of this, all of this Calm AF and coaching and all of it isn’t to become a person who never experiences this. My friend, you were blessed and cursed with a human brain and anxiety and overthinking. It’s just part of it. It’s just what the brain does. What if you knew that you were going to always have anxiety as a passenger in the backseat? Not driving the car, but as a passenger in the backseat, like it was just going to go along for this ride called life. If you knew that you can’t actually just kick it out of the car, but rather this anxiety, this overthinking was just part of the deal, and you learned how to leave it in the backseat, would you finally relax a little bit about it?

What if you knew that your anxiety was not a fault to eliminate? What if you knew that anxiety wasn’t something you’re going to get rid of? What if you knew that overthinking and anxiety, weren’t the horrible problem you think?

Now, I know it feels like a major problem for a lot of people, because anxiety does not feel good. And a majority of the time, it definitely isn’t helpful in your life. Anxiety can be a time suck, a joy suck, a life suck, but having a human brain pretty much guarantees you’re going to have some mind-drama, some moments of anxiety. And the quicker you begin thinking differently about your anxiety, the easier it will become to manage it, to send it to the backseat instead of letting it drive the car.

So let’s jump in. I’m going to start with how to stop feeling powerless to anxiety. And then I will teach you how to become empowered with anxiety.

First, let’s acknowledge that there’s normal anxiety and there’s disruptive anxiety. Normal anxiety is, “I have a big test coming up. I’m going on a job interview. I have a date with a new person. I have to have a tough conversation.” It is normal human emotion to feel some anxiety around those situations. What I’m talking about today is disruptive anxiety, anxiety that moves from clean to dirty, from “I’ve got nerves about this conversation” to, “oh my God, this is a disaster. I can’t think of anything else. It’s disrupting my work. I’m short with my kids. I’m losing time. It’s all consuming.” That’s the difference, normal anxiety versus disruptive anxiety.

That’s the anxiety that most people feel powerless to. I hear it all the time. “I try to stop. But once it’s gone, once that anxiety is going, I can’t do anything about it. I’m helpless to it.” Or I’ll have people say, “You know, I didn’t even notice I was spinning out until I was there in a full spin out.” (By the way, spin out is what my clients and I call those anxiety situations where it’s like that Tasmanian devil just ripping through their life.)

Here’s how you can stop being powerless against it:

First, you’ve got to separate it from your identity. You do this by watching your words, watching how you think and speak about yourself as a person with anxiety.

I’ll give you an example. I was talking to a woman a few weeks ago who experiences a significant amount of anxiety, several panic attacks a day. And when she was describing her days to me, she just kept saying, “This is who I am. This is what I, this is what I do. I’m anxious.” And so what I told her is the first thing she needs to do is to pay attention to the words she’s using and the role that she is taking on in that relationship to her anxiety. It has all the power. She is powerless to it because of the way she’s describing it. Like, it’s just this thing that she just has. It’s just, she’s shackled to it. Like she doesn’t have anxiety. She is anxiety. Anxiety is her. Now I know this might seem like such a subtle shift. You’re like, does that really matter that much?

Yes. It matters so much.

When you are saying, “I am anxiety, I am anxious” versus “I have anxiety. I have anxious moments,” it makes a difference because our thoughts create our reality. When you make that small shift to, I have anxiety, it becomes something you experience, not something that you are. So that’s the first thing: you’ve got to separate it from your identity.

The second thing you’ve got to do is detach the shame from it. We have so much shame around anxiety. So many people look at it like this horrible, horrible flaw. But is it? Here’s what anxiety is: It’s when your body is perceiving some sort of fear, some sort of danger, whether it’s physical or psychological, right? Your body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing to protect you. But then you add shame on top of it.

Anxiety is not something wrong with you. It’s simply your body responding to something. And we definitely want to have some strategies so that it doesn’t become all consuming, but when you experience it, and then you feel shame about it, you are just making it harder on yourself. And you again are giving anxiety the power, which leads to being anxious about being anxious. You experience a trigger that creates a thought that creates anxiety. Right? I teach my clients a lots of tools to help them with their overthinking worrying and anxiety. And so when they start noticing the signals that their body is getting triggered, they learn to pull out the tools. But sometimes they get anxious about that.

I had a client telling me the story a few weeks ago. So she’s in a stressful situation at work. And she recognized that she was starting to move out of her body and into her head. And the spin-out was on its way. So she’s like, okay, what would Kristin do? Well, Kristen would say, zoom out. Kristen would say, you observe it, watch it like a movie. And for her, it would work for a second. And then the anxiety would show up again. And so she started getting more anxious about being anxious and about using the tools. And she was like, “Zoom out, zoom out!!” We laughed together because it was the opposite of helpful.

It’s like going up to a hysterical child and screaming in their face to calm down. It’s not going to work. You are making your anxiety more powerful by being so hard on yourself.

The other thing that I want you to stop doing that will change you from powerless to empowered is to stop saying that it’s hard for you. I know it’s hard, I’ve been there lots of times. But stop saying that. Stop telling yourself the story. This absolutely creates a feeling of powerless.

And the more you say that “I can’t, it’s hard,” the more your brain just accepts it as truth. So that when you are triggered, your brain’s automatic thought is not something productive, but rather, “This is hard to deal with anxiety. We can’t win. Let’s give up.” It’s like setting you up for failure. Stop telling yourself you can’t. You can.

So let’s talk about how to stop taking on the powerless position to anxiety and talk about how to become empowered with anxiety. Anxiety is going to be with you, but this is how we put it in the back seat and we take the power back.

First things first: you’ve got to allow it. I know you don’t like it. You want to get rid of it. I know. Me, too. But by pushing so hard against anxiety, you are definitely working twice as hard as you need to, and getting nowhere.

I promise the anxiety will not become worse if you just allow yourself to be with it. Note that I’m saying “allowing” it to be with you. I am not saying indulging in it. When you allow anxiety to sit with you, it’s like, okay, so anxiety’s in the car and it’s sitting in the backseat, but it’s not influencing anything. Just put it in the back seat. Different than indulging. Indulging would be letting it just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. And believing what it’s saying, and allowing it to steer your car. Conversely, allowing is saying, “Listen, you can sit here, Anxiety. You can be with me here because I know what you’re trying to do is protect me. So thanks for that! But I am in control. I am going to stay in the driver’s seat. You have to stay in the back seat. You have to be quiet.”

See the difference? We’re not going to try and push it out of the car or fight with it. We’re just going to allow it. We’re not going to resist it and we’re not going to indulge it.

The next way to become empowered with anxiety is this: you’ve got to know yourself. You have to know your anxiety backwards, forwards inside out. AKA, you have to know your team, right? You have listened to my podcast before. If you haven’t go back and listen to my team series, where I talk about the boss, the toddler, the teenager, and the lizard. These are the four different types of stories that you are telling yourself that are creating and fueling anxiety. And the more you know them, the more they become predictable, the less you will be surprised by them when they show up.

I am shocked at how often my clients are surprised by their anxiety. Like, it sneaks up on them. It catches them off guard. They’ll tell me these stories and they’ll be like, I was just so surprised. And I think, “Wait, I’ve known you for only three months, and even I could see that one coming.” That’s because I’m observing their anxiety from the outside. I’m observing it. I’m not believing it. I’m curious about it. I’m not judging it. So I don’t get pulled into their spin-out.
And this is exactly what I teach my clients to do. And this is what we’re going to spend a ton of time doing in Rewired AF. The more you know your anxiety, what it feels like in your body, where it starts, what are the first signs and what are the common triggers, the more empowered will be despite your anxious moments. For example, what triggers the boss? What triggers the toddler? What do they say? And what do you do to get them through it?

The more you know, the more prepared you can be, so it doesn’t catch you off guard. It doesn’t go straight to fight or flight. You want to be proactive about your anxiety by getting to know it ahead of time.

If you aren’t fighting it, if you just know it well and it’s nothing to feel ashamed about, it’s nothing to feel powerless to, then anxiety is just going to show up and you’re going to deal with it, right? Less drama, less fear. You can just say, “Ugh, you again. All right, no problem. I know what to do.”

When you’re powerless to anxiety, you are not only making it harder on yourself to manage the anxiety in that moment, you’re also creating a story that you are a victim to your mind. Like, you just don’t have any control over those thoughts. But you aren’t a victim. You do have control…and it’s not going to look perfect. But when you take your power back from your anxiety, when you become empowered with anxiety, instead of powerless to it, you will move through anxiety so much quicker. You will reach goals so much quicker. You will feel better, so much quicker. That’s it. All right, sillies. You’ve got your message. Go apply it. I love you so much. You got this. I will see you next week.

In this foundational episode, you will learn that:

  1. Calm is a feeling. Calm AF is a way of being
  2. Calm AF isn’t a new thing to learn because it’s already there, wired into you
  3. Becoming calm AF is a return to trusting yourself, believing in yourself, and loving yourself deeply

Grab some coffee and give it a listen. You got this. And I got you.

– Kristen

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And if you want to dig deeper and work with a coach who’s GOT YOU, contact me to set up a free consult. I love working with people who are hard on themselves, the over-thinkers, people pleasers, perfectionists, and overachievers. Any of this ringing your bell? I’d love to hear from you!