Five Tips for Overcoming Anxiety and Fear

Being stuck in endless cycle of anxiety and paralyzing fear is no way for anyone to live… I know, I’ve been there.

Worse yet, it keeps us from moving forward and becomes literally crippling. Forget about goal achievement, constant fear and anxiety turns into a battle just to get through the day.

It’s easy from the outside to see how this sort of thinking can be so damaging to one’s growth— but, from the inside, it’s another story and can be truly debilitating!

Here are five tips you can use to instantly destroy and eliminate those anxious feelings fearful thoughts— to move yourself from literally paralyzed to a place of greater peace.

#1: Take Inventory of the Situation

In Buddhism there is something known as, “right understanding” or, “right view” derived from The Noble Eight-fold Path.

When you become extremely anxious and fearful, ask yourself while your in the moment— what is truly terrifying you? It’s likely that the moment itself is actually quite safe and that you are projecting out into the future with negative visions?

What, in the present is so dangerous?

Unless you are being car-jacked or chased by a bear through the woods or perhaps some similar immediate danger, chances are good, you are crafting a story about your impending demise!

You are using your imagination— creating visions, in your mind eye about a future filled with frightening and unfavorable events.

Thus, the counsel is simple; take stock in the moment, in yourself and your present thinking. Do your best to gain a healthy perspective about the actual situation, in the moment.

Often realizing it’s just a dire forecast (not necessarily an accurate or correct one)  and knowing that the future is in fact, unknown…  ask yourself, “Could not the exact opposite occur?” Then ask, “How many other possible outcomes are there?” The next question to ask, “Has anybody else gone through this — or worse — and made it through successfully?”

#2: Shift Your Focus

It’s been said, “What you focus upon expands”. Further, in my experience I’ve noticed that whatever I focus upon I tend to feel or have emotions about.

If I focus upon a great time, a great memory, I tend to feel great.

Focusing upon a great memory, or holding a thought of gratitude and appreciating something can instantly change your mood, emotions and feelings in the present!

And, since you can only hold one thought at a time, the quickest way to banish fear and anxiety is to replace those thoughts with something favorable.

#3: Challenge Your Emotions

Could fear just be excitement? The answer is YES – it could be…. There is a great video about this by Simon Sinek (bottom). Could your worry or fear be instead an exciting opportunity? Often a situation that presents itself as scary is a powerful opportunity for growth. There are two sides to every coin!

Think about the situation that’s giving you fits of anxiety and fear. List at least five different ways this could result in a superb opportunity if your thinking was flipped on its head.

#4: Take Action!

Fear drives insecurity, and insecurity creates inaction and hesitancy.

Henry David Thoreau says it best: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life he imagines, he will he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

This simply means we must take action and move confidently — even if it’s slowly — toward our goals. And, here’s the kicker, even if we are uncertain and not confident!

“MOVE CONFIDENTLY in the direction of your dreams.”

The truth: NOBODY knows the future, those that are moving confidently in the direction of their dreams are doing so as blindly as everyone else yet, they believe and are hopeful!

#5: Accept the Fear

Finally, accepting and understanding fear can be a useful tool.

Fear has its origins in pressure and ultimately when we understand it better we can chose to refract the pressure positively.

Don’t believe me, ever hear of Lincoln, Gandhi, Churchill?

The “reality” is, we all have the ability to refract pressure away from fear, toward a hopeful, positive future anytime we can wrap some awareness around it (by acknowledging it!).

On one end of the spectrum is hope/faith on the other is fear.

I’m sure you’ve heard Yoda’s great line:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

Choose hope and optimism by accepting and not rejecting the pressure and refract it toward the positive!

By acknowledging the fear, we take responsibility for it. When we become response-able and not just reactive! We regain the driver’s seat and thus have the ability to steer that fear toward hopefulness, opportunity and faith.

 

It’s an incredibly exciting thing, this one, meaningless life of yours. Good luck.

A brilliant commencement address which, like most things genius, requires not one listen but multiple. And, while I don’t expect you to watch it over and over, my request is that you revisit this in about a month. Tim’s bio and background are here.

A few of the highlights and at the bottom is a link to his personal blog and you can read the entire transcript if you’d like. Enjoy!

Highlights:

1. You Don’t Have To Have A Dream.
I never really had one of these big dreams. And so I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you… you never know where you might end up. Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye.

2. Don’t Seek Happiness!
Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Contented Australophithecus Afarensis got eaten before passing on their genes.
>>NOTE: if we’ve said it once we’ve said it a thousand times in this blog ; )! Happiness is a choice, it’s a responsibility it’s what the Buddha meant when he said, “there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” see post)

3. Remember, It’s All Luck
You are lucky to be here. You were incalculably lucky to be born… I suppose I worked hard to achieve whatever dubious achievements I’ve achieved … but I didn’t make the bit of me that works hard, any more than I made the bit of me that ate too many burgers instead of going to lectures while I was here at UWA.

Understanding that you can’t truly take credit for your successes, nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate. Empathy is intuitive, but is also something you can work on, intellectually.

>>Comment: Taking credit for even your hard work is fool’s gold. Everything and everyone have helped you to forge that work ethic — take NO credit, remain humble!

4. Exercise!

I’m sorry, you pasty, pale, smoking philosophy grads, arching your eyebrows into a Cartesian curve… You can’t be Kant, and you don’t want to be.

Play a sport, do yoga, pump iron, run… whatever… but take care of your body. You’re going to need it. Most of you mob are going to live to nearly a hundred, and even the poorest of you will achieve a level of wealth that most humans throughout history could not have dreamed of. And this long, luxurious life ahead of you is going to make you depressed!

But don’t despair! There is an inverse correlation between depression and exercise.

5. Be Hard On Your Opinions
A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arse-holes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this… but I would add that opinions differ significantly, in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs…Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions…

By the way, while I have science and arts grads in front of me: please don’t make the mistake of thinking the arts and sciences are at odds with one another….If you need proof: Twain, Adams, Vonnegut, McEwen, Sagan, Shakespeare, Dickens. For a start.

6. Be a teacher.
Please be a teacher! Teachers are the most admirable and important people in the world. You don’t have to do it forever, but if you’re in doubt about what to do, be an amazing teacher.

7. Define Yourself By What You Love
… We have tendency to define ourselves in opposition to stuff; as a comedian, I make a living out of it. But try to also express your passion for things you love. Be demonstrative and generous in your praise of those you admire. Send thank-you cards and give standing ovations. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.

8. Respect People With Less Power Than You.
I have, in the past, made important decisions about people I work with – agents and producers – based largely on how they treat wait staff in restaurants.

9. Don’t Rush.
You don’t need to already know what you’re going to do with the rest of your life… I said at the beginning of this ramble that life is meaningless…

You will soon be dead. Life will sometimes seem long and tough and, god, it’s tiring. And you will sometimes be happy and sometimes sad. And then you’ll be old. And then you’ll be dead.

There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is: fill it!

…life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing … but you know all that stuff already.

It’s an incredibly exciting thing, this one, meaningless life of yours. Good luck. Thank you for indulging me.”

Hope that provides you a sense of guidance and strangely comfort ; ) (comfort in the meaningless of it all). In many ways it’s a recipe for happiness and a fulfilling life…

Set goals. Work hard. Go after it. Be humble. Exercise. Assess your own beliefs and opinions regularly. Be a teachers —share your genius. Define self by what you love not what you hate. Respect everyone. Slow down.
(you can find the entire transcript here).

Thanks Tim!

Until next time friends,

Are your Habits Aligned with your Dreams for Tomorrow?

The above video and corresponding post was originally published on 4/20/2014 – years ago.

Steph Curry has now willed his team to multiple NBA FINALS AND he managed to WIN (by vote) the league’s MVP award (for regular season play).

On his march to the NBA finals, Curry has shattered every 3 point record that’s existed in league history–and the playoffs aren’t done yet!

Pay special attention to the statement,

“I knew he was going to be a future NBA superstar and here’s how I knew that, it was all because of his work habits.” And, it gets better from there… at one point the voice over guy explains how AFTER practice, Curry would not leave until he swished five free throws in a row. Do you know how hard that is? The moral of that story is that success is NOT an accident, success is a CHOICE…”

YOU can take if from there… enjoy this video/ post and the NBA playoffs 2015 ; )

>>>>>Original Post below
Happy Easter!

SUCCESS IS NO ACCIDENT.

This applies to whatever you are interested in becoming great at!

And, speaking of great— this is a short video that beautifully illustrates the power of habit (that seemingly magical force that has the ability to take what was, at first, difficult (driving, shooting a basketball, playing piano, tying your shoes) and, over time, through diligent practice and repetition, make it easier… seemingly effortless.

“Habit is, as it were, a second nature.” ~Cicero.

The highest form of competence is a state of natural mastery (in developmental circles it is called unconscious competence), where once there have been many thousands of hours of practice, it’s actually harder for a person to err than performing the skill/task correctly. In fact, I believe Tony Robbins cites a story about Larry Bird who was once filming a commercial and was asked to miss a basketball shot badly— unfortunately, he kept making his shots.

THE REAL TAKE-AWAY
The ultimate take-away is actually far more compelling than “success is no accident” — the real gem here is everyone (YOU) has this built-in, all powerful achievement device, a gift really — and that is the ability to develop any habit necessary to help them achieve any goal or to help them realize their vision of success.

Ask Stephen Curry. ; )

And, it’s worth asking yourself, what habit (link to a free habit building template) you are trying to develop? How are you developing it?

One Day To Live, The Immaterrial and an Exercise of a Lifetime

It’s great to hear that you have your “dream” list of goals and material “toys”. It’s pretty exciting to think about the big house you will own and the 4 high performance or luxury cars, maybe even that ridiculous 135 ft yacht, etc. And, there is no reason you shouldn’t have that list. But, there is a different list…

Do me (and you) a FAVOR right now. Consider for a moment, what you would do if you found out you had only ONE day to live. Do you have any idea how you’d spend it? And, here’s the kicker, with WHO would you spend those last precious hours and minutes?

You see, as unfortunate a scenario as that might be, it takes the often muddied waters of our priorities and values and bring them to the fore with pristine clarity. The fact is, your dream mansion would be worthless, your luxury cars or yacht would all have no redeeming value as you said your final goodbyes.

My guess is this; upon finding out you had only A SINGLE DAY TO LIVE, you’d be immediately reaching out to the one’s you love the most. You’d be sharing your deepest feelings of gratitude for their love and friendship and support over the years.

In short you’d dive into LOVE and GRATITUDE. Love for all those who’ve supported you throughout the years and gratitude for the opportunities and relationships that enriched your life.

One day to live would mean
No BullSh*t….  No wasted time
No fake gestures… little to no concern about what other people think

One day to live would mean:
Focusing on the people you love. Sharing your most meaningful thoughts and ideas.
You’d probably identify some regrets and missed opportunities for time squandered—for losing focus on what was truly important in your life. You’d probably even do some last minute mending of fences and going out of your way to reconcile— to leave this world in peace.

The Reward?
If you have truly processed this mental exercise for all that it’s worth you will have a great idea of WHO and WHAT is most important to you and WHY

Create that list now. Who are the people? What are they experiences and why are they meaningful. Have there been opportunities lost? What are they, can you re-write the outcome. It all begins with clarity.

Expectations or Reality?

Great lesson from Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Successful People) about self-fulfilling prophecy and human potential. If you are a PARENT, COACH, TEACHER – basically, ANYONE who deals with kids, you can NOT afford to miss this message. I’ve personally witnessed so many teachers and parents unfortunately limit their kids’ with unintended and believed to be innocent statements.

Notice in this video the deep significance and impact of OUR/YOUR “FRAMING” present “REALITY” whether it’s social or even personal, (You talking to yourself).

The gist is really this; ANYONE’S POTENTIAL is as much their “REALITY” as their past behavior. To put this another way, when you belittle another (OR, more likely yourself) you not only inhibit that potential for growth you dangerously shift/alter and change your present reality by altering your FUTURE expectations.

Since NOW is the only moment YOU, Continue reading

Guest Post: This is where the story really begins…

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” ~T.S. Eliot

It was a beautiful spring day, the sun was out, the birds were singing, squirrels were playing in the yard, and I Brian Webb a recent college graduate was deciding my future. I was at home in Maysville, Kentucky discussing what I should do with my life and what endeavors I should partake. The decisions were made that I should move to Cincinnati and live with my father and work in the IT field with his company as a mentor/internship. With my education, it was believed that I can move up to management. With that decided, I drove back to Lexington content on my decision.

“Life tends to happen when you are making plans.” I arrived at my apartment in Lexington, Kentucky and decided to lay down on the couch to take a nap. However, I couldn’t sleep, I had a strange headache coming on stronger and stronger. Bam! Bam! BAM!!! Felt like a nail was being driven in the back of my skull. The pain was excruciating! So, painful in fact that I got sick and passed out.

My brother came rushing to my side and called 911. The ambulance delivers me to the ER in a coma. End of story.

Now, this is where the adventure really begins…. Continue reading

Write Your Own Obituary; The Best Advice Nobody Ever Gave Me

picture-5You might consider this the ultimate “begin with the end in mind” exercise and, really, it falls perfectly in line with one’s attempt to create their ideal future – their success.

Rest assured, there isn’t a greater ‘end’ to consider than YOUR END- (your death/departure from this planet).

So, if it’s helpful to ‘begin with the end in mind’ for goals and projects you can bet it’s pretty darn valuable for your life.

For those who haven’t heard the story there is a terrific anecdote about Dr. Alfred Nobel. What you may not know is that while today everyone hears his name “Nobel” and thinks “Peace Prize” originally, this was far from the case.

In fact, turns out that in 1888 a French paper erroneously proclaimed “The merchant of death is now dead.” The story went on to explain that the man who invented and patented dynamite (his original claim to fame) and a faster, cheaper, quicker way to kill people died in a fatal explosion. As you might expect, a very alive and able Dr. Nobel read this account of his death and its merciless headline and was mortified by the prospect that his lifetime work and his legacy would be relegated and labeled synonymous with death and destruction. This was not the legacy the good doctor had in mind.

Turns out, after reading his own obituary he instantly knew he had to redefine just what his life was to mean; what he was to represent and how he wanted to be remembered.

Drum roll please…
So, here’s a couple KEY questions for YOU to answer…

What do you want your life to represent?

How would you like to be remembered?

Continue reading

When there is no “Why?” 9 Lessons in Achievement from a “Crazy” Man

man-on-wire-2

Brilliant. astounding, outstanding and remarkable

There aren’t enough superlatives for MAN ON WIRE!

Things have been a little busy lately – and wanting to get to this “review’ / post since I saw this movie well over a month ago! Man on Wire is incredibly entertaining movie and not just for the never-to-be-repeated, remarkable feat itself (tight-rope, in this case wire-walking from one World Trade Center tower to the other) but, also, for its direction, production, and original footage.

I happened to see this movie (wifee’s recommendation) just before the Academy Awards (no surprise it won for best documentary).  The story features Phillipe Petit and his mission to realize his life’s dream of walking a tight rope between the two world trade towers. The brilliance from a production standpoint is the reenactment is interspersed with some fantastic original footage.  But, what makes the movie truly so powerful and riveting is the UNDERLYING THEME.

We are all walking a tight rope.

Continue reading

Are you tapped in?

kid imaginationphoto courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/jckhamken
post by Mitch W. Steel

Here’s a quote I’m rather fond of… It rephrases the age old proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention” to “necessity isn’t the mother of invention – invention is.”

Napoleon Hill wrote the all-time classic personal development book, Think and Grow Rich. The book is based on his 20-year study of the greatest minds of his time, including Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. He discovered from this exercise that there human creativity took basically two different forms – synthetic imagination and creative vision.

Synthetic imagination joins your pre-existing ideas, your concepts and your products and transforms them into something completely different, into a completely new form or a new, unanticipated solution to a problem. Very little of what is created today is absolutely original – from scratch, if you will. In fact, many of our greatest inventions are based upon the concept of synthetic imagination. Perhaps that is what Isaac Newton said when he attributed his greatest discoveries to the ability to “stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Really when you consider it further necessity, in reality, is the GRANDMOTHER of invention.

For example, the garbage can. Yes, the lowly, smelly garbage can. The original intent of the garbage can was to have a receptacle to place the garbage collected during the course of a week in your household. A simple enough need.

Soon, the garbage bag was invented. One invention – the garbage can – spawned yet another invention, the garbage BAG. This, in a nutshell, is synthetic imagination. In other words, this is simply a creative way to combine two pre-existing ideas or inventions.

The second type of creativity is creative vision.

A good way to look at this is to think of creative vision as dialing directly into your creative source. This is what Napoleon Hill called your “infinite intelligence.” You might refer to this as God.

In essence, it’s your intuition. It’s the way the infinite intelligence or God gives us our hunches and our “inspirations.”
Hill had a great story involving Thomas Edison in which the famous inventor, known for his relentless pursuit of the light bulb, uses both creative vision and synthetic imagination. Edison was well known for the many cat naps which he took throughout the day. What is not so well known, is how he used these to his creative advantage.

When Edison was tired and frustrated by the day’s “failures” at not having discovered the best method of creating this invention, he would nap. But before falling asleep, he formed in his mind a clear view of the problem he was currently facing. As he wakes from his nap, in that limbo-like peaceful state before he’s fully awake, he realizes the solution to the problem. The light bulb, in order to function, must be placed in a vacuum.

The vacuum was indeed the only environment that would prevent the immediate burn out of the wire as well as prevent any electrocution. His thoughts immediately jumped to charcoal. He recalled images of charcoal covered with dirt and of course subconsciously realized they burned much more slowly than the rest. In fact, it was that realization – coming out of his nap which his subconscious was trying to share with him. Limit the oxygen and the filiment that illuminates the lightbulb will not burn out so quickly!

You don’t always need to use your creative vision and bring something as momentous to the world as the light bulb. More often than not, synthetic imagination becomes the vehicle to success.

All you really need to do is combine two ideas that are already pretty darn good on their own. Just look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. If you’re old enough, you probably even remember the initial commercial which introduced the product to us. One person walked along the street, totally absorbed in his chocolate candy bar. Walking in the opposite direction came another individual, equally absorbed in his peanut butter.

BAM! They walked right into each other. The candy bar crashed right into the jar of peanut butter. A new taste treat was born!

Just look at the evolution of the cell phone. Once the original phone was invented, synthetic imagination took over to create an evolution of the gadget none of us can now seem to live without. Other technologies fueled by synthetic imagination include Google, Myspace, Facebook to name just a few. New goods and services are created every day using existing technology in a new and innovative way.

Don’t think for a moment that synthetic imagination or even creative imagination is the realm of a chosen few.

Be sure to share cool examples of either creative vision or synthetic imagination and ways they’ve created value for others and / or affected your life. These examples will help everyone (readership) recognize the true path to success begins with creativity and hopefully inspire them to create!

Thanks again… until next time