What gives me the right to talk to you about how to live your life without anxiety? What is it about my life that qualifies me to feel that I have the answers?
The context for these videos
This is a short series of videos in which I am picking stories from my own life to share with you – and using them to illustrate how I have achieved a life in which I feel I have become enormously rich terms of emotional wealth & well-being. In each video I use one of the Anxiety Freedom cards to illustrate my message. And the reason I’m doing this is to show you how you too can live a life free from anxiety and stress.
Please let me know what you think by commenting below!
Hi, Today I’m asking the question: “What gives me the right to talk to you about how to live your life without anxiety?” What is it about my life that qualifies me to feel that I’ve got any of the answers?
And, just to set the context, this is a short series of videos in which I’m picking stories from my own life to share with you and using them to illustrate how I’ve achieved a life in which I’ve become enormously rich in terms of emotional health and wellbeing.
In each of the videos I’ll be using one of the Anxiety Freedom cards to illustrate my message. And the reason I’m doing this is to show you how you too can live a life free from anxiety and stress.
So the card for today is Control.
So just take a look at this image and reflect on what it means to you. Some people find it exciting, they like to be in the driving seat. Some people find it rather overwhelming, there are rather a lot of knobs, and levers, and buttons, and the steering wheel’s very big, and it could all be a little bit overwhelming. How do you relate to the issue of control, and what are the things in your life where you feel you have control and maybe the things where you really feel things are out of control?
And I want to illustrate this with a story from right back in 1971. So I’m a teenager, I have an older brother and a younger sister, and my experience of teenage life is partly that my older brother and my younger sister were very frequently arguing with my parents, particularly with my mum. I’m sure that’s a distorted view but that’s part of my perception of being a teenager. So when I was 15 I would regularly see my mum in tears because of some row that had happened with my older brother, who was pushing the boundaries. He was fighting for the right to go to parties, to stay out late, to go to the discos, and he had to push the boundary, and I, two years younger than him, I followed in his footsteps with much less hassle. I had much less grief, because he’d already forged the way.
But it was hard for him, and it was hard for mum, and what would often happen is that I would hear the same argument played out time and time again, and it was always something about he wanted to do something and they weren’t happy with it, they thought it was too risky, or whatever. So he would say something, and then my mum would say something, and he would respond in a particular way, and then she would respond in a particular way, and it would just spiral, and spiral, until it blew up. There would be some shouting, he would usually storm out, slam the door behind, disappear for 20 minutes while he cooled down, and my mum would descend into a pool of tears, and then I would kind of step in, and try and make the peace, and try to figure out what had just happened. It was repetitive, that was my perception, was that it was repetitive. So I said to my mum one day, I said, “Since you’re the adult and he’s the child,” I mean, he was 16 or 17 years old, I said, “You’re the parent here, why don’t you change something “about this scenario? “Why don’t you just change your response, “or just change anything, change one thing “so that it doesn’t go through “this same, repetitive cycle?” And you know what she did? She put her hands on her hips, and she had hips, and she stood there, and she said, “I’m 50, I’m too old to change.”
And at that moment something went ping inside my brain, I thought, that doesn’t sound right to me, that doesn’t sound healthy. Surely we can change throughout the whole of our lives as we adapt to new situations, as our children grow up, as life happens to us. In some ways you might say that that one experience kind of set me up in some ways to become a psychotherapist later in life because change is something I’ve always been absolutely fascinated by, and it seems to me that change is sometimes the only constant in life.
A useful exercise sometimes is to divide things into the things you can control, and maybe the things you can’t control. We’ve got no control over the weather, there are certain things in life that happen to us and we have very little control. And there are obviously other things that we can influence, and we can make decisions, and do the thing that works for us, or for our family, or our community. What’s interesting about dividing things this way is that one of the things you can control is the way you respond or react to the things that you can’t control. So in that sense, you have a lot more control than maybe we think we have.
And in my mum’s situation, way back in the ‘70s, I kind of yearned for her to take control, to make a change, because it wasn’t working. People were getting upset, and when that happens on a regular basis I always kind of think, well what needs to shift here, and what needs to change, what can we do that will make a difference?
So that’s my little story about control and change and please let me know what you think about this. Scroll down, leave a comment, let me know your reaction to this. I’ve talked about control, it’s one of our innate needs, a need for control. I’ve related it to a story from my teenage years about my mum getting upset, and my brother getting upset, and then explained how that had some factor in me becoming a psychotherapist.
Do you take control when you see things not working in your life? Do things stand in the way of you taking control? Please comment below, let me know what you think, and whatever else you’re doing don’t forget to keep breathing.