This is Your Anxiety Toolkit – Episode 298.
Welcome back, everybody. How are you? It is a beautiful summer day here in California. I love summer. It is very hot, but so happy to be here with you. I’m sitting in my office. I have a cup of tea. I have my little flowers next to me, and I’m just so grateful to have you here with me as well. Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I’m so honored. Really, I am. I know you have many options. It’s just an honor to be walking in this journey with you.
Today, I want to talk to you about seven questions you can ask yourself every day. It doesn’t mean you have to ask all of them. They’re just my favorite seven questions. They’re questions I ask myself all the time, the questions I ask my patients all the time. They’re not groundbreaking in that they’re going to change your life, but they will definitely keep you on track. 100%. They’re what I call guidance questions. They’re questions that prompt you to go in the next best direction, take the next best step. So, I can’t wait to share those with you.
Before I do, let’s do the review of the week. This is from Kendall Wetzel. She said:
“Listening to her podcast and following her on Insta--” if you don’t follow me on Instagram, head over to Your Anxiety Toolkit on Instagram. She’s saying, “Following her on Insta has been so great for keeping me in check with my OCD. She’s gentle, positive, and awesome.” Thank you. “So thankful for this free resource.”
Thank you so much, Kendall, for your amazing review. I love your reviews. Thank you for putting in the time to do that for me. It’s a gift. Thank you.
All right. Before we get into the episode, let’s do the “I did a hard thing.” This is from Joy. Joy said today:
“I told my boss I was resigning. It was a hard conversation to have and I overthought everything leading up to it.” Joy, I love that you shared that. We are human beings. We’re doing the best we can with what we have. But Joy goes on to say: “But I did it and it went well. This morning I woke up and I said it is a beautiful day to do hard things and that helped me to get through the day. Thank you.”
Wow, Joy, love it. I mean, such a totally human response. Even though we overthink things, you still did it and that is all that matters. That is all that matters. That is all that matters. So amazing.
All right. Let’s get into these seven questions. Shall we?
All right. I’m actually going to do this pretty quickly, folks. I will leave the questions in the show notes. I strongly encourage you if you’re not driving to sit down and write them out and take some time today to journal on them. Again, it doesn’t have to be all of them. You can make it into a pretty PDF. You could print it out. You could make it into a daily journal, prompts. But these questions, I just sat down and I looked at my computer and I was like, “Okay, what are the questions I commonly ask my patients?” Now, of course, I always ask my patients, how are you doing? I also ask my patients like, how was your week? I didn’t include those questions. Of course, I ask the questions again as guiding questions that lead us towards the whole reason you’re here, which is to live the life you want to live and compassionately.
Alrighty. So, here we go.
Question #1: Does does this behavior line up with my values?
So important. Often, I’ll just speak for myself, but I’m going to probably assume that you are just like me, given that we’re both human beings, but maybe not. Maybe you’re way more evolved than me. But often I find myself doing things that don’t line up with my values, because either society told me to do it or I’m on autopilot and I’m doing what I’ve just always done. And so, therefore, I just keep doing it and I catch myself doing it or I’m trying to avoid some emotion or some fear. So, the question is, does it line up with my values? Often it doesn’t. So, this is a question that guides me. I want you to think of it like your north star or your compass. These are compass questions as they guide you back on track. Does this line up with my values? If it’s a yes, proceed. If it’s a no, we might move our way down the other questions, or you might just want to reflect on that.
Question #2: Does this behavior line up with my long-term goals?
The thing around values is sometimes values will contradict each other. I really value being a good mom, but I also really value being a really good therapist. And sometimes I can’t meet both those values. I can’t be a really good therapist and a really good mom every single day. I can just do the best I can, but sometimes I have to go to work instead of being with my kids. Sometimes I have to be with my kids and I have to cancel a client. So, it’s hard. So, the question I ask myself is, does it line up with my long-term goals? Long-term goals. And I’m talking specifically here in regards to recovery. The last few weeks’ episodes are just about this, is getting clear on your goal, holding yourself accountable. Does this behavior line up with my long-term goals?
Question #3: What is one thing I can do right now that lines up with my long-time goals and my values?
What’s the one thing, not the big thing? I struggle with this one so hard because I like to knock things out. It feels so good. It’s like a little adrenaline high, and I get discouraged when I can’t. So, I have to keep asking myself, just what’s the one little thing I can do right now in that direction? What’s the one thing? Don’t worry about the 17th thing. Just do the first, next best thing.
Question #4: Is this behavior effective?
This is similar to the other questions. So, again, you might want to ask yourself all of these. You might get overwhelmed. But this is a question I often ask. I think I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, my 2022 goal is to be more effective. Sometimes I’m doing things and I’m like, “This is not an effective use of my time.” Again, you don’t always have to be effective. Sometimes we just do things for the pleasure of doing them or for the process of doing them, or for the joy of doing them. But is this actually reaching the goal? Is it effective?
Sometimes my mom always to say, excuse me, if I kill this phrase, but she’d say, “You’re jumping over quarters to get to pennies.” She’s talking about saving money. You’re jumping over small amounts of money. Excuse me, you’re jumping over big amounts of money just to save small things. I told you I was going to kill that. I did the best I could. So, you’re jumping over quarters to get to pennies. If you live out of America, you’d say you’re jumping over 10 cents to get to a-- you’re jumping over 10 cents to get to 1 cent. But that’s true too. Are you doing one thing to reduce a little bit of discomfort when you could be doing something that would give you way better outcomes? This is very true of those of you who are doing compulsions. Sometimes we’re doing it and we’re like, “No, I just have to get this certainty. And if I get this certainty, well, then I’ll have relief.” But it’s like, okay, is that effective for your long-term plans? Yes. It reduces your short-term discomfort, but it actually increases your long-term discomfort.
Question #5: How willing am I to be uncomfortable?
This is the big one guys. If you’re going to ask yourself one question in your whole day, this is the one. How willing am I to be uncomfortable? Whether it be that you’re facing your fears on purpose, doing an exposure, how willing am I? Or whether it’s just doing something you have to do that you don’t want to do, like Joy told us this morning, she had to resign. Even if it’s something you have to do, how willing are you to be uncomfortable? How willing are you? Are you in resistance to the fact that this is happening? It’s happening. You’re anxious. You’ve got something hard to do. You can fight it or you can allow it.
Question #6: Can I do this for another 10 seconds?
Oh, I love this one. I love it. I love it. I love it. Here we go. Can I do this for another 10 seconds?
A client of mine once told me this. I think I’ve done an episode on this before, but it was a client of mine many, many, many years ago who said that they’d heard-- actually, I think it was like Grey’s Anatomy or some TV show. Well, maybe it was some research. They said anybody could do anything for 10 seconds. And so, they would say to themselves while they’re doing their exposure, “Can I do this just for another 10?” And when that 10 seconds is up, “Can I do it just for another 10 seconds?” You may increase it to 30 seconds, a minute, 10 minutes, an hour, or you may reduce it. “Can I do it for five seconds?” But it’s a great question. It really challenges this sort of-- we have these thoughts like I can’t do it anymore. But when you ask yourself, can I do it for another 10 seconds, well, then the script gets flipped.
Question #7: How can I make this fun?
I mean this, even if it’s doing an exposure that is petrifying and 10 out of 10 anxiety, how can we make this fun?
A part of you is probably throwing your phone against the wall and being like, “What the heck, Kimberley? None of this is fun. I don’t want to do these hard things. Go away.” And that’s fine. It’s a question you don’t have to ask if you don’t want, but I want you to ponder, how can you make it fun? How can you make the hard thing fun?
So, as we look at these questions, these seven questions through the lens of it’s a beautiful day to do hard things-- let’s put it into sentences.
It’s a beautiful day to do hard things that line up with your values, because that was question #1: Does it line up with my values?
It’s a beautiful day to do things that-- excuse me, let me say it’s a beautiful day to do hard things that line up with my long-term goals. That’s question #2.
It’s a beautiful day to do one hard thing. (Question #3)
It’s a beautiful day to do hard things that are effective. (Question #4)
How willing am I to do the hard thing? (Question #5)
It’s a beautiful day to do hard things for 10 more seconds. (Question #6)
And last one, it’s a beautiful day to do hard things, making it fun. So, how would I word that? It’s a beautiful day to do fun, hard things. I’m being silly now. But it’s true.
I really want you to think about these. These are my favorite seven questions that I ask my patients. Try them on. See how they feel. If you like them, proceed. If you don’t, that’s fine. Just drop them. This is where you take what you need and leave what’s not helpful.
I really want to remind you, this is not therapy. So, I’m not tailoring this specifically to your needs. So, if it doesn’t feel right, just leave it. Not everything is for everybody.
All right. I love you. Have a wonderful day. It is a beautiful day to do hard things. Thank you so much for your support. Keep doing the hard things and I will talk to you next week.