Over the last couple of days, our leadership team who had arrived from the Netherlands to meet the Australians were in our Melbourne office.
I decided to go in and work from the office to meet them and also see more of the Melbourne colleagues whom I’ve never met. To be fair though, I had a bit of anxiety. Part of ne didn’t want to go in as I had a medical procedure the week before, there was a covid scare, a possible threat of nuclear war and the world going to hell in a hand basket.
All things that override the need to go into town to work on some petty community strategy from plush coworking spaces.
Nevertheless, I reconsidered and decided to go in. I noted my first instinct is to always make some excuse. The second is to wait for a bit, have the attack of the guilts, reconsider and do the opposite of what I first thought.
The result is always the same. I end up enjoying the experience.
So much so, I came in again for the second day. Despite the level of noise and chatter in the office, I got through more work and also socialised with my colleagues which was a welcome relief.
The irony is that this is a lesson for me.
When I’m anxious and my first instinct is to make excuses, all I’m doing is feeding that anxiety by constant thinking and looping in my head. I need to break that cycle and instead obstruct it by doing something else – something different to get my mind on that instead.
So the mere act of changing my routine was enough to reset my thinking and give me a welcome break from my own thoughts.
It got me thinking how I can now use this to my own advantage?
I need to get better at prompting myself to action when I feel myself go down this hole of negative thinking. Sure, I use my activities such as learning French, running, my walks and golf clinics. These are my own actions I create just to “do” something but they’re also easy to make excuses and pike out when I’m not feeling up to it. I’m my own worst enemy.
In this case with going into the office, naturally I was ready to pike out again. However, I was prompted by a direct message to me through Teams late last week by our CTO who simply wrote to me, “Hi Helen, good office turn out this week if you feel like coming in. Tomorrow and Wednesday should be fun.”
That’s it. That was the prompt I needed to break my own negative thinking pattern. That’s all that was needed. I noticed my mind instantly switch to something else – planning for the office trip instead of creating some excuse – and it gave me some sweet relief.
So maybe my lesson here is to think of that one step AFTER?
To think about how good it would make me feel.
To accept that my first reaction would be to think of ways to get out of it – not because I really don’t want to go – but that my mind has made some “what if” scenarios that send me into a bit of a paralysis by analysis state that it’s just easier to say no.
It reminds me of Ant Middleton’s book the Fear Bubble where he says you allow yourself to have this bubble of fear for a little while but then picture a needle and burst it, to get you out of that negative thinking spiral.
Instead, for my own sanity, I need to go back to what I used to do which was to jump in, and just do it. I’d like to get back to that. I need bigger needles to burst my fear bubbles.
This anxiety shit is doing my head in. It’s not a lack of confidence per se, it’s more about a mixture of “purpose” and questioning that at this time in my life, I’d like to be doing something that is not for profit, helpful to the community. The more craziness I see around me, the more I wonder how what I’m doing has any relevance any more and if I could be playing a more active role in helping others. Getting back to feeling in control again. In control of something – anything.
I also know that it’s a combination of the last two years of uncertainty with covid and of course, menopause which is changing the hormone balance in my body, changing the way my brain thinks to be more fearful, anxious and in a sleep deprived state most of the time.
It’s as if I can “feel” the changes happening and there’s only a certain way to fight them (without taking additional medication).
Argh. I don’t have the answers but I feel that writing them down helps somewhat to get them out of my head. I know I’m not the only one thinking this way.