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This is Your Anxiety Toolkit - Episode 296.
Welcome back, everybody. I am so fired up for this episode. Oh, I just love this stuff. I love it. I love it. I love it.
Okay. Let’s get started. First of all, let’s do an “I did a hard thing.” This one is epic. This one is from Fisher and they said:
“I have OCD, health anxiety, and panic disorder. And last year, I was diagnosed with POTS,” which is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. That is the chronic illness that I have also. And they’ve said: “This was very overwhelming for me. I was petrified of exercising because of the exercise intolerance that comes with POTS and worrying that it was a life-threatening cardiac issue.”
Oh, I am with you, Fisher. So, for those of you who don’t know what exercise intolerance is, it’s like it’s almost impossible to do exercise. When you stand up, you pass out. And when I’ve been triggered by POTS, it’s hard to even do a block around, walk around the block of my house.
“My doctor did all the cardiac tests to rule out any underlying issues before diagnosing me with POTS and recommended cardiac reconditioning to help me get started with recovery. My first barrier to overcome this was to trust in my physician and their diagnosis and follow their recommendation for exercise therapy. My second barrier was facing my fear of exercising. I can now say that I’m in my last week of the program after going twice a week for three months, along with exercising on my own at home. It’s been a struggle. There are some days where I flare up.” I hear you, Fisher. I totally get you. “And it seems impossible, but accessing self-compassion, budgeting spoon usage for the day, and moving things around to allow myself to rest have been invaluable tools to help me with the experience. A wise person told me after my diagnosis, the only predictable thing about living with a chronic illness is that it is unpredictable. So, I try to accept that uncertainty as a part of my life, living with anxiety and POTS.”
Fisher, I just love you. You’re killing it here. “I have a lot of work to do in learning to live with my chronic illness and my OCD and health anxiety recovery, but I make a little progress each and every day. P.S. Would you consider doing an episode on coping with chronic illness that mirror anxiety symptoms like POTS? I’d love to hear the skills that have helped you and some of you recommend coping strategies. Thanks for all the hard work that you do on this podcast.”
Fisher, I would love to have you on the podcast. I am going to write it in my notes to reach out to you because I think this is such an important topic, one that I myself have gone through, and thank you for writing this. You are doing badass, amazing hard work. So, yay. Thank you. You will hear from me. If you don’t hear from me, reach out, because I think that would be wonderful.
Okay. Let’s take a breath because that brought up a lot for me. I just feel such deep compassion for Fisher and all of you who are just doing the hard thing. So, so cool.
All right. Quickly, review of the week from Mosley23. They said:
“I’ve been listening for several years and can say that this podcast has helped immensely to understand my OCD and anxiety. Kim and her guests have provided very helpful ideas, strategies, and encouragement that have been so key in helping me to get to a good place with my mental health. Could not recommend it more highly if you or someone you love have an anxiety disorder.”
Thank you so much, Mosley23. Your reviews mean the world to me. The world really. Really, it’s so helpful. And again, if you give a review, and I know specifically what episode you’re talking about or what specific thing, it means then I can do more of that and help more people. So, yay.
All right. Let’s talk about recovery. It’s taking all of my energy not to bang my hands down on the table and be like, “Let’s do it.”
All right. So, I take walks every morning and I often listen to podcasts or audiobooks. I’m a big self-help, non-fiction kind of gal. And I’m often listening to these most motivating speakers and it gets me so fired up. This morning, I got so fired up because this is such a part of the work of being a clinician. We get trained on all the theory and the statistics and the diagnoses, but we don’t get taught very well how to help a client identify what is your recovery goal. What are you here for? And so, even though you, listener, loving beautiful person, human friend – even though you’re not here for therapy, because this is not therapy, I want you to be really intentional about your recovery goals.
Why is that important? Because, when you’re dealing with a mental health issue, you’ve already got a full-time job. You’re working your butt off to manage that. And sometimes we can put our attention so much on the disorder instead of making time and carving time and having a mindset towards, what do I want life to look like once I recover and how can I use that recovery goal to fuel the work I’m doing now while I’m in the trenches?
So, what I’m not saying here is, list off 20 magical things that will happen to you in the future when you get rid of your anxiety disorder, because that just means now you have an additional list of things to check off and it’s overwhelming and anxiety producing. So, I’m not talking about just lists. I’m talking about getting clear on what you want life to be like, even if anxiety is there.
So, let me ask you. You guys know, I love questions. First question, what does your recovery dream look like? What do you wish it looked like? So, often when I ask that to clients, their first response is, they put their hand on the buzzer and they’re like, “Pick me.” I don’t want anxiety and I don’t want that to be your goal. So, the absence of an emotion is not a recovery goal. We need anxiety. If you didn’t have anxiety, you’d put your hand on the hot plate. You’d jam your hand in the door. We need anxiety. So, try not to make that your goal. I’m talking about specifically, zoom in and imagine that you are the ring camera on your house. What would be happening in your house, around your house, around your life? How would you be interacting with the world? That’s the stuff I’m really interested in knowing.
So, for me it’s like, okay, if I was in my fullest recovery, I would be with my kids. I would be helping my clients and my listeners and my followers. I would be a connected wife. I would be a wife that shows up for my husband, even when it’s tough and we’ve got stuff to work out. I’d be someone who still has good days and bad days. But the bad days I just keep showing up, like it’s a beautiful day to do hard things. I’d be that person. I’d embody “it’s a beautiful day to do hard things.” That’s what recovery would look like for me. It might not be that for you. And please don’t just use mine because mine is just for me. Make it specific for you and look at that, write it down. Because in those answers, in those questions and answers is all of the details in which you can start to implement today.
So, example being, if that was my recovery goal, what can I do today? I can get down on the floor and I can play with my kids, even if anxiety is there. I can go to my husband and say, “How are you? How are you really?” And practice staying in the moment and practice listening instead of letting my anxiety do all the talking. I still do the talking, but I’m listening to my partner, not to my anxiety. I’m practicing this and it’s not perfect. I might even suck at it. That’s fine. But I’m already working towards the recovery that I want, the life that I want, the dream that I want.
While I have anxiety, and if it’s there, I’m also going to bring myself into intention that my goal was to help people, to be of service, to show up for you guys and have a couple of giggles and be myself because that’s a huge goal for me, to be more myself, which means I have to share a few layers of professionalism and just show up as Kimberley, the imperfect, giggly, silly, goofy, all-over-the-place Kimberley. So, I’m working towards that, whether anxiety is there or not. And by practicing that, I’m already 20 steps towards the recovery goal because I got down-dropped into what was it that I was looking for? So, this is the work, guys. Don’t use this recovery list as a list of expectations that you tell you, you won’t ever get to. Instead, use it as a way to implement it today.
Now, what I just said is the perfect segue into identifying the next question I had in my prep for this. Are you living according to old stories or your recovery goal? Because often, if we’ve made mistakes in the past or we’ve struggled in the past or we have messed up in the past, as we’re engaging with our goals, we’re telling ourselves a story. What’s the point? Look at that, what I wrote down. Like, I want to show up for my followers and listeners. I want to be a wife that’s engaged and connected. I want to be a mom that’s on the floor playing with their kids. I want to be a therapist that is just pouring my heart into the people. So, that’s my list.
But if I’m living according to old stories, I’d go, “Yeah, that’s not going to happen because you totally screwed up with that one client that time, and you totally said something inappropriate to that one person and offended them and harmed them.” And so, you’re just, “Nah.” You think you don’t deserve to have that recovery or it’s just not possible for you, Kimberley. That’s what we call a fixed mindset. You’re living off of old stories. “No, I couldn’t do it in the past. I tried. So, there’s no point. There’s my recovery list. I’ll never get there.” That’s old stories.
And the whole point of me talking with you every week on doing the “I did a hard thing” segment isn’t just because-- well, yes, it’s because I love it. I ain’t going to lie. I love it so much. But the whole point I do that is so that you guys can see baby steps lead to medium size steps, leads to large steps. And you mess up and you totally screw up. I’ve done whole episodes about this in the past. Just recently actually. You mess up and then you go, “Okay, I’m going to just do one more.” It’s going to try one more time, and one more time. The whole AA approach, if you have an addiction, if you go to alcoholics anonymous is one more day. And there’s some research around that model because it helps you just to stay in the short term, doing today, not looking at the long term, and changing the story.
The next question I have is, are you really clear of what recovery will look like, and does that line up with your values? The reason I ask that, and that’s the final question of this episode, is when I ask my patients like, “Okay, let’s get a recovery plan together. What are your treatment goals? What do you want to look like once therapy is done? How would we define that?” Often, because they’ve been trained and conditioned from society to be this, they’re like, “Okay, so I want to have a house and I want a car and I want to have 100,000 followers on Instagram and I want to be a size blobbidy blah.” And it’s just like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Is that what society told you or is that actually what you want? Do you actually value those things? Are they coming from a place of getting other people’s approval or are they coming from a place of what really feels good to you, really feels good? What feels true to your values? Because yeah, it’s easy to say, “I want to have this many dollars in the bank,” or “I want to have achieved a certain thing.” That’s fine. I’m not against that. In fact, I love that kind of thing. I love goals. But I first want you to ask yourself, why? Why do you want that goal? Is it because you want approval or is it because you want to prove you’re worth? Because if it’s any of those two things, it’s probably going to be a painful process. Because, number one, you won’t get approval from other people that’s long-lasting because that depends on their mood and their values themselves, and you won’t get up to a place where you feel worthy because you’ve based that on a conditional relationship.
The only way we can actually build self-worth is to drop all the conditions and recognize that you’re worthy right now, whether you reach this goal, this recovery goal or not. It’s not a condition. The thing to remember here is your worth doesn’t go up if you reach these goals. Please remember that. Your worth is the same whether you reach them or not. You’re a valuable, important human being that deserves love and kindness. So, just keep an eye on that. I’m sorry, I’m going on a little tangent there, but it’s so important as you embark on getting really clear. And I really want you to be really, really clear. I really do.
I’ll use a really ridiculous example, and mind me, I understand that this is a very privileged example, but my daughter is going off to middle school. She’s going to a school that’s very far away. And so, I have to engage in a carpool. We have a four-wheel-drive that we use to do all of the outdoor stuff that we do. So, I need a bigger car to fit seven people. And so, I’m trying to get really clear on values as I buy this car. I understand this is a ridiculous example, but let’s use it as an example. As I go to buy a car, what do I want to feel when I get in the car? What are the things that matter to me? Is it the brand? Do I have to drive a Mercedes Benz or is it the functions? Is it the way it makes me feel? Is it the color? Is it the way my kids feel? That will help me to make a decision. So, I drop down into, really what do I want? What’s important to me? Is it important for me to have technology or is it important for me to have ease? Is it important for me to have technology or pay less for this car? And so, it’s asking questions. Don’t go overboard here, but asking questions so I get really clear on what matters to me, what values matter in this decision.
So, again, I get the ridiculous privilege of that whole question, but they’re the questions I want you to ask about you, because you deserve that. When you make decisions about your recovery and your life, you want to ask the questions that are detailed so that you can pivot in those areas. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get clear on what you want recovery to look like. Because if you don’t, you’ll probably find that you’re wavering around feeling directionless, not sure why you’re doing all these hard things, feeling like, what’s the point really? But when you know exactly what the outcome you want is, you’ll know exactly the point.
Okay. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. Thank you for being here. It is a beautiful day to do hard things. I hope that was helpful. I will talk to you guys next week, and have a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful day. By the time you hear this, I’ll be back in the United States from my trip. If you want to go back and listen to the old episodes, I encourage you to do that. All the goodness is right there in those early ones.
Have a wonderful day, everybody. Talk to you soon.