KW is a past client of mine who achieved amazing success at understanding the causes and experiencing success at over-coming his anxiety and panic symptoms years ago.
When he walked into my office years ago, he appeared very anxious, but had no idea where the anxiousness was coming from. He had a great job at a major corporation, making good money. After a few sessions, I shared what I felt were possible issues. I was somewhat reluctant to unload my diagnosis on him, but still needing to express my opinions. I remember like it was yesterday, and expected a mixed response emotionally from him.
In so many words, I told him he was a person that had a tremendous amount of creative energy and business aptitude and yet people skills, and I suggested he needed to quit his job and start his own company or companies. He was bored, although a strong performer, who needed to create businesses and not have his energy stifled by others over him. Now was the time to really put his aptitudes and skills to work. I felt he had emotional conflict due to thinking he should settle with a good paying job with longevity even though he has so much potential to do so much more. That conflict created anxiety symptoms, and the anxiety became his focus, instead of the source of the anxiety. He surprisingly took what I said and did just that, created a new person, in control of what he did with his life.
He called me recently and brought me up to date. He in fact had been very successful with his own business, and was in the process of selling it for enough money that he would never have to work again. But he expressed that his anxiety was surfacing again.
My responses was ” You cannot be idle ! “
KW and I are talking once a week as he deals with making changes in his new life to further recognize the sources of his renewed anxiety, which seem to be triggered by new physical health symptoms that although not life threatening, do give rise the same old issue, needing to feel in control of your life.
He has been making progress dealing with his renewed anxiety symptoms, but I feel strongly that each of you could benefit from his experiences. Below, in his words, is his summary of what he has been through and learned which he has offered to share with you.
He will be adding blog entries through me as he travels.
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Emeritus , Life Coach
Hello Fellow Members of RuledByFear.com !
Chapter One of : Idol Hands are the Devil’s Workshop
I have been pestered by anxious responses to physical symptoms since I was 18 years old. The intensity and duration of my anxiety mental occupation came in and out of my life the ocean tides. Over time and with lots of help from Gene Benedetto I was able to understand myself and what can happen if I am not burning my mental energy. Once I understood that I looked back and determined something very interesting. The anxiety “tides” I experienced took place during times when I wasn’t stimulating myself mentally. The challenge was unlike ocean tides there was no forecasting my anxiety. Sometimes I wouldn’t respond to thoughts or stimuli at all. Then other times something as simple as mucous in my throat would send me into full blown panic. I could walk in an airport jump on a plane and fly 5 hours across the country without giving it a second thought or I could start to worry about a 1 hour flight a week before departure having a hard time stepping into the airport fearing that I would have a panic attack or get claustrophobic while on the plane. “What if I lose control in the middle of the flight”. The difference was what my mind was focused on. What I finally understood is my high energy mind is going to focus on something. If I didn’t give it something productive to focus on it will find something very unproductive to give its attention to. I guess its like my grandmother alway told me “idol hands are the devils workshop!”
Now to the point of this blog. How to keep your mind busy during long periods of idol time.
I would not say I am an adrenaline junky by any means but I do enjoy adventure. I like to experience life. You know, taste new food, hike, ride horses, boat, kayak, spend time in nature, and do all of it in different places. Once I had children my wife and I wanted our kids to have a zest for life and experience new things. Our answer to this was to buy an RV and hit the road every summer. We want them to see all 50 states by the time my oldest graduated from college. This means lots of time spent away from a “comfort zone” and hundred of hours behind the wheel. Not the ideal scenario for a person that doesn’t do well with idol mental time.
This summers trip is over 6,000 miles long and just under 100 hours of driving. So the first thing I need to do is spend time planning. Not the typical vacation plan. This plan needs to be specific to keeping my high energy mind focused on productive things. Planning not only helps during the trip it also helps stay away from pre event negative thoughts. Like what if this or that happens. Focusing on negative thoughts before an event is like turning a pot of water on high heat and wondering why the water starts to boiler. Planning takes the pot off the burner. So what have I find helps to plan.
1.) Plan each day so I know I have enough time to hit my daily goal of 10,000 walking steps. The daily exercise is good for my physical and mental health. Makes me feel like I am taking action to stay healthy and it helps me burn off energy.
2,) Plan each day so I am able to eat healthy. Eating fast food 3 times a day during a long road trip not only makes me feel physically awful it also makes me start to think that I am not doing what I need to do to be healthy. Which results in me thinking about what could happen because I am not healthy. Yeah not good for many of us with anxiety.
3.) I also like to prepare work I am able to perform while driving. In preparation for the trip I create a call sheet that list people to call, their numbers, and what I would like to discuss with them. I have found this to be very beneficial and enjoyable. When in the office everything is so hectic its hard to find the time to call and have conversations that arent’ rushed. I even purchased a “trucker” headset that has a noise cancelling microphone so no one even knows I am cruising down the highway at 65 mph. It’s also an amazing time to call old friends and relatives to catch up. Tip on this one- Don’t call those that would be considered energy vampires. Bless their hearts, we love them but they will talk about who all is dying or has died, who is sick, who is has fallen on hard times, etc. etc. Not that there isn’t a time to call that person, but it is certainly not when you have hours left in your day on the road to think about all the awful things that can happen.
4.) I like to make a short list of things I’ve wanted to do at work. This list needs to be less tactical and more philosophical. For example. Ways to show people I appreciate them? What is would be needed in rewards program for top teammates? I will brainstorm and use the notes app on my phone to record my thoughts. This brainstorm session will usually spiral into other thoughts but if I catch myself drifting to negative thoughts I quickly refocus on my objective. Even I do start to have negative thoughts I will call a coworker and share some of ideas. The conversation will quickly get my mind refocused on working on something productive.
5.) I have tried down loading audible books but my mind starts to wonder after 15 minutes and I don’t realize it for an hour. Then I have a hard time going back to find where I stopped paying attention. With that said I have had success with finding interesting podcast to listen to. They are usually shorter and I can pick topics that I know my mind will stay engaged.
These are some of things I take the time to prepare prior to leaving in order to keep my mind busy.
My trip starts today! Part of my plan for this trip was to create this blog at RuledbyFear.com and keep it update as I travel across the country. Updating it with how I am doing and what if any techniques I used to stay away from “idol hands”