Category: <span>Personal Development</span>

Lean into Discomfort to Achieve Your Goals

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I’m not sure who in their right mind chooses to be uncomfortable, apart from exceptional people who understand that whatever we don’t face becomes our limits.

If you want things to really be different and grow personally and professionally, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

The feeling we associate with discomfort is fear or anxiety. As creatures of habit, we prefer safe and calm, but as you go after your dreams, it requires risk and uncertainty, which can be scary. People don’t always realize that any perceived fear can trigger your internal fear response, prompting avoidance or withdrawal. That fear response can look like: Overthinking, procrastination, headaches, unnecessary mistakes and trouble focusing, to name a few.

The more we back off in the face of discomfort, the more we reinforce our fears and limits. The antidote to that is actually to partner with our fear.

Making Friends with Fear

Declare a truce between you and that feeling you’ve been fighting for so long. I use a great book in therapy and often discuss with coaching clients, Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein. Essentially, it invites you to think of the feeling like a friend who is visiting- would you answer the door and ask what the hell are you doing here? Or maybe you are the type not even to answer at all? Maybe close the windows, slide down the couch and hold your breath as if the friend wasn’t even there? Hopefully, if an unexpected visitor showed up, you would open the door and get curious about why they came to see you or even get excited to engage in a conversation. With that same spirit of exploration, you can learn to befriend even the most difficult emotions with acceptance and equanimity, giving space for a more considered response to the feelings.

But won’t that make things worse?

Your anxiety won’t escalate if you acknowledge it as you take risks, embrace failure, mess up big time, and manage distress. It’s when we fight against it or run from it that we reinforce adverse outcomes.

Each time you face the fear, it reduces the emotional reigns it has on your life.

Let’s take a look at three approaches to intentionally confront the fear standing in between you and [enter goal, task, or project here].

  1. Just Breathe. Our conditioned response to fear is to speed things up. Your breath is the most powerful tool you own that can slow down your internal reaction. Use your breath to settle the excitement of seeing your friend (aka fear). Visualize each deep inhale, connecting you back to the moment, and each complete exhale providing relief.
  2. We tend to overthink and not act. Sometimes the more you accomplish, the more you feel like a fraud and doubt your abilities, but feelings aren’t facts. Rely on the facts, not your emotions or catastrophic thoughts. Instead, think about another time you were successful, what worked for you then, and how you could that possibly apply now to support continued action.
  3. Plan for the obstacles. You eventually will confront the beliefs and reactions that typically show up to hold you back. So plan ahead.  Try listing your fears or concerns and for each note your typical reactions that make it difficult for you to proceed. Now for each, write a plan of action to respond. A part of that plan should include acknowledging the fear and defusing it with a curious, good to see you attitude, as well as using your breath (you always have that with you).

It takes consistent work and awareness to notice and better respond to the experience of discomfort. Still, it is in partnership with that experience that you can take charge of your life and lose the fear of stepping outside of your comfort zone.

What’s your favorite way to handle discomfort? Let us know in the comments below.

Cheers to your success, Amanda Fludd.

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, supporting the ambitious mindsets of women through coaching, and improving mental health in all settings. The goal is to simply get you out of your head, so you can stress less, and focus on your success.

Make sure to register for “Catch your Breath” a free live mindful practice series for Minority Women Who Lead running through the end of July 2021. #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

4 Useful Ways to Ease the Stress of Change for Women Who Lead

The mass exodus back to normal has heightened stress levels, and it’s important to acknowledge that change can be stressful. If you are someone who gets upset and loses focus when things don’t go as expected or strongly dislikes change, automatically expects the worst, and struggles to adapt, this piece is for you.

 

Do you think we are ready to return to ‘normal’? 

Well, whether we’re fully ready, we have to be prepared and adapt. In the ever-changing landscape of life and work, adaptability is a crucial skill for managers, leaders, and anyone looking to navigate change successfully. Adaptable people tend to be happier and more content as they’re not struggling against the resistance of change, and can skillfully ride the wave.

 

The Brain Behind Change

Our brain hates the unknown that comes with change, and that can show up as anxiety, which is your brain’s way of protecting you from the unfamiliar. However, that can mean saving you from a necessary or required action. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.” The threat is that feeling of not knowing and the associated fear of what could happen in the future. Sometimes that fear is rational, and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s about something that will happen in three minutes (getting on a call to close a deal, for example) or in 30 years (having enough money to retire).

Depending on how you respond to your brain’s conceptualization of the fear can make change or transitions so difficult. It’s easy to feel powerless in these moments, but your power is in the ways you decide to navigate change.

You can decide how you want to think about the situation and what you want to do about it.

We can’t resist returning to work, going back to college, or whatever transition is on the horizon, but you always have a choice within the change. I’m not dismissing that it won’t be hard at times, but this is about being skillful so you can continue to live, lead, and enjoy life.

Let’s jump to 4 quick tips to navigate change and ease the fear of transition:

  1. Notice when an interaction or the thought of a situation upsets you and examine why. Acknowledge out loud any unhelpful thoughts going through your mind, then take those thoughts and challenge their accuracy to determine whether they represent reality. Perhaps you can then find another way to think about them that allows you to move forward.
    How you think or what you are ruminating over is often connected to the experience of procrastination, perfectionism, overwhelm, or feeling unmotivated. Learn to challenge and change the thoughts behind those responses.
  1. Successful leaders often react to anxiety by working harder, holding themselves and others to impossibly high standards, only to cause further stress or burnout in themselves and others. Examine your use of time and what you are asking of others. Putting in place a support infrastructure that includes breaks for you and your team and time to discuss expectations openly.

 

  1. Find a practice that eases your stress. Sometimes our minds operate like a runaway train. If you can quiet your mind for just a moment, you may notice there is always a fork in the road. One road allows your anxious thoughts to derail you, and the other will enable you to inject more positive thoughts and intentional actions.This can look like daily mindfulness practices, laughing, or sometimes more high-intensity activities like running or a good cardio workout. These practices short circuits the stress response by getting you out of your head, incorporating your body, and allowing the experience of stress, anxiety, and worry to subside.
  2. Don’t stay on your island; build connections. You are an expert at what you do, and getting things done is your superpower. However, we all will face the challenge of transitions and change that can make you feel alone or cause you to isolate and withdraw. Do the opposite. Instead, try coming out of your office and chatting with a colleague, or reach out via text, call a friend or  maybe even perform a quick act of kindness. Be open to also ask for help or outsource tasks to create more time and space for wellbeing.

 

In this time of crisis and change, where many are experiencing anxiety for the first time, it is an opportunity to develop our ability to adapt and contribute to a culture the prioritizes the importance of emotional wellbeing.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, supporting the ambitious mindsets of women, and improving mental health in all settings. The goal is to simply get you out of your head, so you can stress less, and focus on your success.

Make sure to register for “Catch your Breath” a free live mindful practice series for Minority Women Who Lead running through the end of July 2021. #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

 

Recognize, Release, Respond: Try this Strategy to Navigate Seasonal Overwhelm

School is out, and the sun seems at the highest point in the sky, and so is our anticipatory anxiety. There is so much we want to do, see, and accomplish that our minds are like a runaway subway car bellowing through the city. I want to travel, finally, write a book, maybe read a book, take a course that has a book, think I need to schedule my physical, paint my living room, take a day off, and head to the beach, but oh my god- summer is almost over! And on and on and on until panic kicks in. Sound familiar?

Racing thoughts, unlike subway cars, often don’t come to a stop on their own, with our minds quickly advancing from a single topic to multiple unrelated ideas; it’s an experience that quickly disrupts your focus and raises your anxiety.

Racing Thoughts Like Subway Cars

Entrepreneurs and ambitious women who lead are no strangers to anxiety. They’re just as susceptible as the rest of the population, and dealing with it effectively requires a better understanding of mental health. While we’ve made significant gains around the stigma of mental health, we often don’t recognize its role in daily functioning, specifically how common anxiety is. An estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s around 4% of the global population, and according to the world economic forum, 62% of those suffering from anxiety are female (170 million).

A hallmark of anxiety is the impact on your thinking process and physical response. It can look like:

  • Thoughts going a mile a minute
  • Trouble sleeping at night and a mind that is not able to “shut off”
  • Procrastinating on tasks
  • Second-guessing your abilities
  • An inability to relax, tension headaches, sweaty palms, racing heartbeat

 

Related: Why Mental Health Plays a Role in the Success of Your Business

 

What’s important to know is while this can directly impact your ability to get things done, there are things you can do to solve the stress of anxiety and still enjoying the summer (or whatever season it is).

Embrace the power of Curiosity 

By learning to tune into your experience around anxiety, we can short circuit your reaction to it and establish a new neural pathway to boot.

Recognize. I encourage clients to think about or recognize what they are thinking about. Start to notice the thoughts driving your worries and stress. Ask yourself is it helpful? How does this make me feel in my body? Do I need to think about this right now?

Focus on your thoughts, and with less judgment.

We are sometimes our worst critics, but try curiosity over judgment. Getting curious about your experience will help you shift from reacting to responding, and interrupt your typical operating system, which creates the opening for something better.

Release. Letting go of what no longer serves you takes courage, but change and growth are just outside your comfort zone. Find and release the thought of worry by imaging it floating away like a balloon. For the physical feelings of anxiety, like fear and tension, breathe deeply into that spot until it expands and then exhale, letting it go. Let go of what’s familiar, whether a limiting belief or an old way of responding.

Respond.  Once you begin to slow your thoughts and settle your automatic physical response, you can create space to act from a more intentional space. Here you can write out your clear goals for the next few months, or even for today or in the next hour. Or maybe decide to speak and act from a more mindful space. Or finally, make a clear request with the shadow of intense emotions and most importantly, take a new action.

 

Which of the 3 r’s will you focus on for the rest of this week? Share in the comments below.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, supporting the ambitious mindsets of women, and improving mental health in all settings. The goal is to simply help you get out of your head, stress less and focus on your success.

Make sure to register for “Catch your Breath” a free live mindful practice series for Minority Women Who lead beginning July 19th, 2021. #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

 

Lean into Discomfort to Achieve Your Goals

I’m not sure who in their right mind chooses to be uncomfortable, apart from exceptional people who understand that …

4 Useful Ways to Ease the Stress of Change for Women Who Lead

The mass exodus back to normal has heightened stress levels, and it’s important to acknowledge that change can be stressful. …

Recognize, Release, Respond: Try this Strategy to Navigate Seasonal Overwhelm

School is out, and the sun seems at the highest point in the sky, and so is our anticipatory anxiety. There is so much we …