Tag: <span>overthinking</span>

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5 Actionable Steps to Overcome Fear and Anxiety

Fear is a powerful emotion that we all experience in our lives, and it is something that can be very challenging to deal with, but you can learn how to overcome fear and anxiety.

When we are pursuing a new experience, like a new job opportunity, relationship, or starting a business, fear can hold us back. It can make us see challenges as insurmountable or make us over-prepare to the point that it slows our growth.

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Fear and Anxiety

Quote: Every time your fear is invited up, every time you recognize it and smile at it, your fear will lose some of its strength

“Every time your fear is invited up, every time you recognize it and smile at it, your fear will lose some of its strength.”

Thich Nhat Hanh 

The best way to deal with fear is to face it. In facing it, you get to see if the story you made up around the issue is true or what you may be lacking to help you move forward. The more we avoid the problem, the more anxiety we consequently cause around it. For example, if you are constantly thinking about whether you will do well on an upcoming exam, you can’t sleep. The consequent exhaustion then triggers even more anxiety because you can’t concentrate and study, further impacting your sleep– and just like that, the worry has just become a debilitating cycle, confirming your worst fear- you won’t be ready for the exam and will fail.

Instead, the goal has to become to lean into the fear so you can disarm it. What if you acknowledged what your worry and fear was in the first place instead of reacting to it. Could we possibly find a better response so it loses some of its strength?

How do fears get in the way of being successful?

Culturally, I’ve been raised to not speak over others, and I think I have this natural resistance to being seen, and it’s my kryptonite that shows up at the wrong time. I can still recall moments sitting “at the table” with people in my profession and listening to them give their opinions on things and wanting to give my two cents but struggling within myself to speak up. 

Fear and anxiety work like that to cripple you within yourself. 

Those experiences can be triggered by various fears like the fear of judgment, failure, or the fear of being alone, and sometimes even the fear of being successful. 

When challenged in that space, it can have this counter-response that looks like overthinking, avoiding opportunities, missed deadlines, low energy, feeling disconnected from your work, procrastination, perfectionism, irritability, or indecisiveness.

How can we overcome fear and anxiety?

Fear is a built in instinct to protect you, so we don’t want to get rid of it, but we do want to help our brains understand the moments we are in fact safe and don’t need that fear reaction. The most effective way to overcome fear, in that case, is to repeatedly do the thing that causes it, but in a safe and controlled way. During this process of exposure, coupled with some skills, you can learn to ride out the anxiety and fear until it naturally subsides.

When the emotion of fear or anxiety seems overwhelming, try to shift your focus to a healthier thought or a skill that will reduce the feelings, so it is more manageable. A stress-reduction approach like mindfulness or simply taking a break and disconnecting from the issue and going for a walk may help you better take the actions you need to be successful. I would also add to be patient and add some compassion into the process. Your mind is working to keep you safe when these responses are triggered. It can’t always tell the action you want to take isn’t a dangerous risk but one you can handle and necessary to improve your current situation.

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How to overcome the fears of growth as a professional

Start by identifying the fears holding you back from reaching your next level. Our thoughts are powerful, but they can be damaging and limiting when building out your dreams. The fear of failure is like the dark cloud that follows most professionals as they work on advancing their careers, especially through entrepreneurship. Rather than simply stopping people from being entrepreneurial, fear of failure can also serve as a motivator for success with a better understanding of your response dynamics. To help you better recognize and challenge your internal reactions to growth we put together some exercises to help you find those fears with the Believe Bigger Workbook available here.

Here are a few prompts from the workbook to challenge your mindset:

  1. Once you’ve identified a few of your fears, can you think of specific experiences from your life that might have formed these fears?
  2. What do you feel is holding you back from more significant success?
  3. Recall a time you were afraid. How did you move past the fear?
  4. Pause for a moment and identify and write about five of your strengths.
5 Actionable steps to overcome fear and anxiety. Prompts and steps to reduce fears and challenge your mindset.

To deepen this practice and find the root of self-sabotaging behaviors, try keeping a journal over a period of two or three weeks. Look for any patterns you notice, the source of those fears (family, culture, financial, criticism, etc), and their validity. Fear is often fed by false stories making your experience seem much worse than it really is.

In Summary:

  1. Lean into your fears. Figure out what it’s about, and if it is valid for the direction you are going.
  2. Practice stress reduction techniques like mindfulness or disconnecting from the source of distress at the moment.
  3. Shift your focus to more positive thoughts or emotions. Use your imagination or visualization to picture that same fearful experience with a positive outcome, and embrace the positive emotions you anticipate feeling with your successful outcome. The control and calm you experience during your visualization can actually help you get through the actual ordeal with more ease.
  4. Challenge your mindset around the fear with journal prompts like the one above and other exploratory resources like the Believing Bigger Workbook for Women in Business.
  5. Practice Compassion. Your mind is only trying to keep you safe.

Related Reads:

How to know if negative thinking is affecting your business

Why do we let ourselves down

At home treatment for children with anxiety

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a Licensed therapist, speaker, and Mindset Coach for high achieving women in business. Her joy is addressing mental health on multiple levels from the boardroom to your virtual office.

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you decide to buy to support our tea-drinking habits at no cost to you. 

overthinking, anxious thinkin

Simple Ways to Calm an Anxious Mind

Do constant worries and anxious thoughts plague you? These three simple tips can help calm your anxious mind and lower your anxiety.

faceless unhappy woman covering face
Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

At any time in the day, do you have at least five things going on in your head and three things happening at your desk simultaneously? When we are constantly trying to problem solve, fix, plan, save or organize something, it can be the gateway to anxiety in your life (well disguised as multitasking or being somebody’s hero). 

I see a lot of professional and ambitious women who are constantly on the go and pride themselves on their ability to multitask. They are often surprised that they are overwhelmed, always overthinking, stressed, physically a hot mess, and anxious. Does that sound like you?

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

  • Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
  • Having a need to constantly be doing something
  • On the verge of panic or afraid, you will have a panic attack
  • Constant worry, overthinking, or feeling like you always need to be doing something
  • Trouble focusing or making decisions
  • Disrupted relationships (passive aggression, easily reactive, anxious attachment, fear of rejection)
  • Avoiding things that trigger anxiety (projects, pending deadlines, socializing, etc.)
  • Headaches, stomach issues, tiredness, shortness of breath, butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, or everything
Free Child Anxiety Test

What anxiety steals 

Anxiety not only affects the mind but the bodies of individuals. The most concerning part for the clients I support is it’s a feeling that keeps you from being present in your everyday life. It’s sometimes a false sense of doing, but in fact, you have accomplished much of nothing and drained yourself physically and mentally. 

You can inadvertently be involved with multiple projects and ideas, but not giving each the full attention it needs- so really making little progress, missing mistakes, and not as efficient as you could be. You could also be responding to internal fears and avoidance that your busyness gives you the luxury of avoiding. On a day-to-day basis, anxious overthinking, constantly doing, and this drive for constant achievement can make you overlook the details of life. Details like your strengths, success, reasons to smile and celebrate, social connections, opportunities to help and serve- the things that give life meaning and value. 

Let’s dive in deeper. How often have you worried, dreaded things that never happened, or thought yourself out of doing something? How often do your worst fears come true? How much time and energy did you spend on those what-if scenarios that could happen in the future? Facts- it only robbed you of the present.

 

 

 

When you are overly focused on future fears, it contributes to anxiety. When we look back too much on past issues and what could’ve been, it kicks up depression, both of which don’t allow you to enjoy what is.

What can you do to calm your anxiety?

The first step is recognizing that you have anxiety. That drive you wear as a badge, the trouble turning your mind off at night, those heart palpitations and GI issues, yup, that’s anxiety and anxiety is exhausting. 

It’s valuable to learn to live in the moment and stop waiting until everything is perfect before doing the things we feel we need to do. Mindfulness and the power of stillness and awareness is one way to calm the anxious body and mind. 

ANXIETY, OVERTHINKING

Tip 1: Infuse Mindfulness Into Your Life

You can improve your health every day by taking time to pause and create space for yourself. By starting a mindfulness practice, you will notice that you can calm your anxious mind. You may first notice how hard it is to sit still or be comfortable with “doing” in a different way. Still, you can interrupt the endless loop of anxious thoughts and worries by being fully engaged in the present moment. 

Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. That means noticing what you are doing and where you are, without worrying about the future or the past.

Let’s practice: I invite you to take three deep breaths. After each breath follow the instruction.

First breath: Bring your full attention to the breath in your nose and out your nose or mouth. Whatever feels right at this moment. 

Second breath: Relax the body. Drop your shoulders.

Third breath: Ask yourself: What’s important right now? 

To be clear, the practice of slowing down doesn’t stop the thoughts. Thoughts will come and go while you tune into your breath or your focal point, but the key is to notice and let it go. It’s about not entertaining the bazillion ideas that come to mind. Attachment to these thoughts and outcomes is often where our pain and distress are often rooted. 

When I was walking out of the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave behind my bitterness and hatred, I’d still be in prison.”

Nelson Mandela, after being release from prison

Tip 2: Add a Guide to Strengthen Your Experience

Left up to our devices we sometimes deviate from the plan. An easy way to stay on course is to introduce a guided practice. I often use Stop, Breathe, Think on youtube for guide exercises with clients and they also have an app. Calm.com is also another great option, and to add tapping which is another way to use your brain to reduce stress. Try this example by black Psychologist Damon Silas.  

Turnaround

Tip 3: Practice often 

Being Mindful is a practice that gets easier the more you do it. So get creative, and RIGHT NOW, think of 5 places or times you can intentionally pause to engage in this practice. My top 3 places:

  1. With clients in session 

(Join our next pay what you want mindfulness session for Minority Women who lead here)

  1. In the car before I go into the house after work
  2. After a workout or before bed  

The most important thing you can do is give yourself a moment to breathe and be still. Learning how to become still is a gift in itself. 

Don’t forget to share where or when you will practice mindfulness in the comments below.

Amanda Fludd, Psychotherapist, Mental Health Trainer & Mindset Coach

Why Does Success Elude You?

I’m guessing that you’re holding yourself back because of one of the following reasons

Examine Your Role In Success

It’s human nature to want to be successful at everything we do in business and life. Yet, most of us aren’t experiencing the level of success we desire, and to be honest, it’s a pretty unsettling feeling.

 It’s easy to see successful people thriving in their lanes and get caught in the trap of holding yourself to their standards, not understanding their story. From your vantage point, it would appear that everyone (but you) is “crushing it,” and as a reflex, you wonder what the hell is wrong with you?

 There’s no magic formula for success; even those business people or influencers, who seem to be overnight sensations, worked hard for many years out of the limelight before attaining their level of success. How you select your goals and your process to navigate the stress that comes with a high level of achievement is a big part of the formula. 

Even though you may have some setbacks along the way, if you prepare yourself for the road ahead and visualize what you want to accomplish, then the only person standing in your way of success is you.

Skillfully move through the process, and you WILL find success in both business and in life.

  1. You keep asking, “why not me?”. It’s a waste of energy and time to keep asking why other people are hitting these incredible milestones, and you are not. Worse yet, it’s contributing to your anxiety around success, making it less likely that you’ll take action towards your goals.  

 

  1. You are not clear on your goals. Not having clear goals or feeling like your goals are out of reach can be frustrating —try asking yourself, “What do you want out of life/business?” Having clarity on what you want – no matter how big or small they may be –sets you in the right direction and positively impacts your emotional wellbeing. According to an

    Get Clear On Your Goals

    18 year-long study published by the American Psychological Association (APA) in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, people who were good at keeping up with goals or got better at sticking with their goals over time had better mental health than those who didn’t. 

It helps to break your goals down into smaller milestones that feel attainable to you. If you’re starting out in business or early in your career, you probably won’t make multimillions your first year. Instead, break that multimillion-dollar goal into something smaller that is more realistic. The goal should be meaningful to you, and the milestones shouldn’t dampen your spirits but serve as your next action steps.

 

  1. You don’t have habits that support consistently reaching those goals. Your results in life are a reflection of your habits. You’re moving either closer or further from success each day. The processes you create to reach your goals are much more important than the actual goal itself. Consider following a checklist for your daily tasks with a time limit for each task, tackling more difficult tasks first. For instance, allow yourself 10 minutes to check and respond to emails, then sign out of email for a few hours. Time blocking also works to focus on one task or one client for a certain amount of time.

If you feel like your processes have stalled, focus on improving the processes instead of changing the goals. Maybe you need to add or subtract a step or add more time to specific tasks. Or perhaps you need to take time to explore the root causes of inaction that are negatively impacting your progress. Self-awareness and effective habits ensure that you make consistent progress.

 

  1. You are afraid of failure or uncomfortable with change. Failing can be hard on the ego, and that fear can be so intense that avoiding failure obscures the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly, or maintaining extremely high standards, often causes many people to sabotage their chances for success unconsciously. 

 

Every time you try something new, there will be a level of discomfort. You have to learn to deal with uncomfortable feelings all along the way. Also, keep in mind that the most successful people have failed the most and the truth is, most people won’t even notice the failures on your way to success.

 

  1. Your mental attitude is blocking success. A pessimistic attitude brings negative results. When you expect a poor outcome, you won’t do the work necessary for success. This is tied closely to brain function with negativity slowing activity in the cerebellum- the part of your brain that works to develop creative solutions for the issues you face. Keep your mind filled with positive thoughts.

 

Success is a twisting road with many obstacles. It’s easy to become discouraged and feel left out of the club, but know that most successful people know what they want and have a high level of persistence. Avoid the common reasons that impede success, and you’ll begin to see opportunities arise that will bring you toward your ultimate goals.

 

ARE YOU READY TO BE BOLD & PLAY BIGGER?

Our zone of genius is helping ambitious entrepreneurs and business leaders learn to navigate the anxiety of high standards in pursuit of their biggest goals and unapologetically live their lives. Feel free to schedule a consultation to see how this or another one of our programs would fit you. Your most successful future starts here. 

 

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 and running through 2021. #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

 

What’s Getting in The Way of Your Happiness?

Are you happy? Most of us want to be, but your nature to demand a lot from yourself, and sacrifice sleep to fulfill one more obligation may be sucking the joy out of the room.

 

Happiness is often connected to achievement- with financial, family, and career ranking high on the list.  The assumption is often with success you will automatically become happier.  As we’ve seen recently with the decisions of Naomi Osaka, success does not guarantee lasting happiness. Work hard, do [exceptionally] well, and feel good, is a faulty equation, yet, we continue to pursue it.

Think about it, you probably got the most praise in life when you did something great like excel at a sport, graduate from school, got that promotion or got married, had kids, and found your white picket fence. Or maybe you remember the disappointment or shame you felt when you did not meet the expectations of others, like being asked why you aren’t married with kids at 38, or in need of a mental health day. Which experience do you avoid like the plague?

This is the beginnings of achievement equating to contentment, and our natural response to seek what feels good or conditional happiness.

Take a second and swallow that pill.

Conditional happiness is based on external circumstances and events, and how you decide to respond. A response that desperately seeks to avoid discomfort by searching for external validation, attention, and general feel-good moments that cannot be sustained.

Why? Because life and people are unpredictable.

The one predictable thing you have control over is you, but you might be what’s getting in the way of your happiness.

I often bear witness to this as I listen to my clients articulate how hard they push themselves to be what someone else wants them to be, and although successful, it comes with busy minds that won’t shut off, deep self-criticism, and unhappiness. Sound familiar?

Are you looking for more happiness daily? If the answer is YES, book a 15-minute complimentary session with me to find out how I can help YOU.

Let’s take a look at how else your response and reactions may be getting in the way of your success.

 

Ways you get in the way of happiness

 

Five Things Getting in The Way of Your Happiness

1. Fear

This emotion is a significant barrier to happiness. Fear is a sign that your mind believes something is wrong, and we often think that something is wrong with us. This kind of unrest creates a thick fog between you and the possibility of happiness. You end up questioning whether you’re really good enough to be where you are, tend to over-analyze for days, and second guess yourself.

It’s important to address issues that cause feelings of fear and resolve them. There’s no room for happiness where fear resides.

2. You Pick Yourself Last for Your Own Team

You’ve spent so much of your life trying to hit all the right milestones, and making everyone else comfortable and not rock the boat, that you forgot to get out of the boat and enjoy the swim.  All your decisions have been based on what would make other people happy, or even successful and to do that you’ve turned your needs, wants and voice so far down that you no longer know what defines you.

Who would you be if you took all of those roles and titles away (Manager, Wife, Mom, Doctor, CEO, Professor, The Go to Best Friend, Problem Solver)? The thought of what life may be without the title may provoke some natural discomfort, but the only authentic way out of this dilemma is to start to shift the focus from what has defined you, to find who you are.

Start with asking yourself how do you want to be defined? Explore what you enjoy, what makes you happy. Take a look at your calendar and see where you could plug in more time to discover you.

3. Feeling Undervalued

When you feel that your time, effort, and contribution to the world lack value, you’ll find happiness to be elusive. It’s draining to be in relationships that take more from you than they give. It’s time to figure out why you’re still there and what you may still need to learn as you work on your exit strategy.

4. Overthinking

Some thinking is useful, like learning from mistakes or making plans for the future. Most thinking is not, such as daydreaming about how you could quit your job today, reliving arguments, replaying choices you’ve made- thinking about what else you could have done or said, or putting off working on projects that really matter.  To experience a more fulfilling life, try paying attention to not only your feelings, but also to your thoughts. Your thoughts contribute to how you feel; feelings contribute to how your respond (or don’t respond).

The beauty of your thinking is there are ways to learn to get out of your head and prioritize what’s on your mind.

5. Negativity

When unhelpful thoughts accumulate in your mind, along with feelings like anger, hurt, disappointment and shame, it not only impacts how you show up in the world- but it can also trigger larger problems like anxiety, stress, and depression. Anxiety and depression struggle to coexist with happiness.

Determine the thoughts, behaviors and actions you can control in your life, and do your best to work on that.

Sometimes the biggest obstacle in your life is, well, you. To build a life that supports happiness you have to work on the place where most of these obstacles reside, within your mind. Take the time to learn new approaches to cultivate and use your mental muscle in a way that works for you.  With practice, intention, and strategy you can let go of self-criticism, overcome your need for control, navigate disappointment and find balance. . .maybe even happiness.

 

“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.”

– William E. Gladstone

 

How do you prioritize your happiness?

I hope this post has given you some insights into yourself, so you can work on changing the particular reactions and patterns that get in the way of you living your best life.  You deserve to be happy. I would love to hear in the comments how you prioritize happiness.  For some of us, that means gently unpacking what hasn’t worked and trying on something new.

If you want to take action now, in a meaningful way (beyond spa dates, and affirmations) try our Performance Academy with a few key tasks and the right amount of accountability to move you to calm, confident, and content.

 

Hi, I’m Amanda Fludd. I’m here to help you get out of your head so you can stress less and focus on your success.

 

extreme close up photo of frightened eyes

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