We’re all bargainers. No, not like the world class ones you’ll encounter as you nudge your way through the busy shops of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, or wander through the famous stalls of Jemaa El Fnaa in Marrakech, or if you get lost in the maze of the ancient markets in New Delhi. Actually, that’s not the type of bargaining I’m thinking of at all.
I’m thinking of the constant bargaining and negotiating we do all the time without even thinking of it! If we were to turn up the volume on our awareness, we’d shock ourselves with how often we are wheeling and dealing…with ourselves!
Here are some examples. Have you bargained with the anxiety gods that as long as you keep your anxiety they will protect you from really bad things happening? Or convince yourself that as long as you keep your worry front and center, you’re being responsible and ‘fighting the good fight’ and that it will eventually pay off? Or have you traded your ‘peace of mind’ in exchange for providing for your family?
The problem with this type of internal bargaining and negotiating is that it is a one-way street. The other side might be at the table but they aren’t signing the contract. So, because in our minds so much is at stake, we end up with exceptional follow-through. We live up to our side of the bargain and worry, keep our anxiety, avoid certain things, even throw in a panic attack or two, and the other side? Well, they’re still not signing and there are no guarantees that they’re going to come through for us.
Would you EVER enter into a business deal like this? Even if your job doesn’t require making deals…logically does this make sense to you?
So where does that leave us?
5 Ways to Stop Bargaining with Your Anxiety
- We need to shed some light on the bargains we’ve made with some unreliable counterparts. Constant anxiety in return for life turning out ok. Lack of sleep in order to ensure business success. Chronic worry in order to guarantee my kids stay safe. Being overweight in order for my kids to get to their activities. Panic attacks to stay employed with my demanding but high paying job.
- We need to ask ourselves if this is the only way that we will get the outcome we are wanting. Do I really need to wake up anxious in order for my life to turn out ok? Is the picture I’ve painted for my life the only picture that will work? Is being afraid of losing what I have or what I want to have the best way to keep it? Ask yourself some real questions along these lines.
- Think logically even though anxiety isn’t logical. Anxiety is usually based on something that is potentially real and so logically an anxious reaction does make sense, though exaggerated. Once we accept that, we then we can think of other logical ways to deal with whatever we’re struggling with. We keep anxiety as one option and then we add other options to our menu. For example, you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities at work. One option is to wake up each morning before work feeling anxious, another option is to call in sick, or start looking for another job, or talk with your boss, or reframe what’s being asked of you, or take an online class to fill in skill gaps, or talk with a friend, or learn natural ways to help your body calm down, or make sure you exercise, or or or…
- We need to experiment with other options. We can always return back to an anxious reaction. In a screwed up kinda way, anxiety will actually even feel comfortable because the known is always more comfortable than the unknown. But, we need to try out other reactions to address and deal with what is totally stressing us out because anxiety isn’t effective and makes life complicated and sucky. The key when we’re experimenting is to actually give the new reaction repetition and time to see if it works. Too often we try something once or twice and determine it doesn’t work. Our anxiety has had plenty of time and practice so we owe the same to other strategies!
- Cut ourselves some slack. I know, that goes against all the hard-a$$ ‘wisdom’ out there. It flies in the face of all the self-critical cheerleading that has become the sacred path to success in our culture. Most likely you’ve been going that way too. It really doesn’t work for the long haul. So, maybe throw this one into your experimenting cycle too. You’re not going to the opposite end of the spectrum, lighting patchouli and telling yourself, “It’s all good.” You’re merely accepting a little bit more of being human, having reactions that make sense, and doing your best to make changes going forward…minus the self-flagellation.
Backing out of a past negotiation with your anxiety is ok. I think your anxiety is expecting it any day now.
Leave a reply and let me know what you just unbargained out of :-)