I recently read a magazine that used ‘monkey on methamphetamines’ as a metaphor for the anxious mind.
I thought it was a funny but accurate description for the racket of thoughts, images and feelings that occupy our mind and body when we are anxious. We could call it, ‘Brains Gone Wild’.
A little bit of anxiety is good. It helps us stay on task and be productive. However, when anxiety goes wild, we don’t see things clearly, we start distorting facts and become reactive as we resist and attempt to stave off our internal chaos.
Too much stress and anxiety causes the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. High levels of cortisol over extended periods contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and ‘brain fog’.
And if that weren’t enough, if left untreated, it can lead to panic attacks and depression. NO BUENO.
I’ve never met anyone who’s never experienced anxiety. Our brains are wired to ruminate. The run-on self-talk can be incessant and if you don’t create self-awareness and mindfulness practices around it, you will look for destructive ways to cope with it.
I haven’t experienced severe anxiety in a long time but I recently allowed my anxiety to get the best of me when I had a crying spell after a group coach training call. I was hiding my own social and performance anxiety from my coaching peers. I didn’t want to appear out of control. Even though we were all experiencing various levels of anxiety as a group, due to the vigorous, high-level training we were receiving, my distortions had me believing that my anxiety was of a different kind, more magnified, and therefore way worse.
It’s never been easy for me to talk about myself though I do so now, as a coach, more than ever. I like to normalize people’s experiences and humanity with candor and humor. Though I’ve become quite adept at managing my thoughts and emotions, I am still human. Though infrequent, I still have meltdowns.
None of this prevents me from being a high performer in business and in life. The reason is that I clearly understand how we humans deceive ourselves with our thinking and I’m an expert witness to my thoughts.
Being the observer of your thoughts with no shame or judgment is the very first step to significant and meaningful change. Without that, you have no access to higher order thinking.
In case you’re wondering, my meltdown lasted all of 60 minutes. In time, by practicing observing your thoughts and self-talk, you can turn your anxious mind around. What can ruin your entire day, can be managed and turned around within minutes. You can have anxiety but you don’t need to let it have you.
P.S. If you’re interested in learning how to manage your anxious brain, how your brain deceives you and how to powerfully transmute that, come join me in May for REWIRED: The Inside Out Approach to Master Shyness and Social Anxiety. We start May 21st.