Last week we talked about overcoming social anxiety and how a client of mine went from cancelling plans with her family to fully enjoying her social life again.
Today I want to talk about how...
...anxiety can sabotage your career and greatest dreams.
I'll tell you the story of Becca, another client of mine who is successfully dismantling her anxiety and how it's impacting her life.
Becca is married and has a toddler. She's a small-business owner and she's starting to do really great work in her field. Her position involves being the director of large multi-day productions, leading large teams of independent professionals and contractors.
Becca's challenge was that as she rose in success and the stakes became greater, big anxiety started to set in.
Her anxiety would make her avoid doing precisely the things that would ensure massive success and recognition in her projects. Instead, she'd find ways to stay busy with other things and settle for OK results, rather than spectacular results.
Indeed, her anxiety was sabotaging her career aspirations.
On one level she knew she could do so much more. But when it came to doing it, her anxiety would get the best of her and she'd back down.
For example, whenever she had to speak to her entire team, rather than delivering the powerful, motivational "pep-talk" she knew she had in her, she would cave-in to the anxiety and talk to people one-on-one. She knew the effect was never the same.
Another way her anxiety got the best of her was in self-promotion. Every time she needed to promote one of her projects or submit it to the attention of others, again she'd start feeling anxious and find other things to do instead. This has cost her a lot and she knows it.
Time to grab the bull by the horns...
Becca came to work with me in the weeks leading up to a major project. This production could be a career turning-point for her... if she executed as she knew she could. Becca knew she needed to deliver.
The project in question involved a very tight deadline and a large group of people who were mostly volunteering their time. Becca knew that in order to achieve her extraordinary vision, she needed to communicate it to the entire group all at once at the launch of the project. (She also knows she needs to massively promote it and hold nothing back.)
She was starting to freeze up.
Did she do it?
Let me tell you about what we did over the course of a few weeks:
1. We created a 'Well Formed Outcome' for Becca's vision of herself in her career
When Becca started to connect with the "powerful why" behind her career dreams (her family's thriving) and the vision of herself as the successful Director that exists inside of her, she started tapping enormous amounts of strength, confidence and courage.
Also within our first session together, I created a personalized hypnosis/relaxation track to help Becca strengthen that inner vision (within her subconscious mind) and more readily access her strengths and confidence.
2. She deconstructed the voices behind her anxiety
I helped Becca slow down and listen to what the voices of her anxiety were saying. This helped her pinpoint what exactly was the active fear.
Becca noticed that one of the voices that always kicks in says, "They're all judging me. They think I'm an idiot." She also was able to trace where this voice came from in her upbringing.
As she teased out the different voices, some of them were really easy to dismiss as untrue and ridiculous. Other voices had a little more 'teeth.'
Feelings of fear and anxiety can sometimes be so strong that they overwhelm you and make it hard to hear what's going on in your mind. But when you do stop to pay attention to the voice behind the fear, you often realize it's completely untrue or exaggerated. When you can dismiss these thoughts, the anxiety often begins to dissipate.
3. She started using EFT for the anxiety and the stickier voices/beliefs behind the anxiety
I taught Becca how to use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique.)
The first time we did an EFT sequence together, she instantly felt more calm. She could see through the ridiculousness of the beliefs she'd been holding and causing her anxiety, and how they came from past experiences that no longer held true.
Very quickly, Becca started to have a renewed glow of confidence, and her voice and posture instantly shifted.
I sent Becca the recordings of all of our EFT sequences together so she could do them again whenever she needed them, though I'm pretty sure she didn't need them much.
4. We created a list of her "empowered" behaviors
Anxiety comes from our innate wiring to keep ourselves safe. It's part of the flight-fight-freeze survival mechanism of most animal species. But when it comes to our modern life, we are rarely in true survival situations. Our stress response is therefore, typically out of proportion to the situation and will tend to derail our progress rather than keep us safe.
Becca's anxiety was truly sabotaging her and keeping her from achieving greater levels of success. This is what Gay Hendricks calls the Upper Limit Problem.
In his book, The Big Leap, he explains how we all have a comfort zone where we feel safe, even if it's not what we actually want. When we start to push against the boundary of that safe place, we unconsciously resort to all manner of tactics (becoming too busy, getting sick, creating crises, etc.) that thwart our progress and keep us safely within our upper limit.
Becca became increasingly aware that this was taking place for her. She could see that her anxiety-avoidance behaviors (avoiding promoting her work, avoiding speaking up, etc.) were clearly keeping her upper limit in place.
So we did an inventory of all of her "upper limit" behaviors. In other words, we listed all of the things she would routinely do because of the anxiety, and keep her from achieving the results she wanted.
Once we had that, we created a second list of new, opposite behaviors.
This list of new behaviors were a perfect match for her career aspirations and her vision of herself (her Well Formed Outcome.) She now had very specific actions to keep her vibrationally aligned with her greatest vision of herself.
And as you can imagine, doing these things now felt REALLY good for Becca, and her anxiety was no longer kicking in as it had before.
She shifted into the version of herself that matches her career vision
To recap, with all of this work, Becca effectively:
- Created a powerful, clear and compelling vision of herself succeeding in her career aspirations.
- She dissolved the anxiety by: (1) paying attention to the voices fueling the anxiety, and (2) using EFT to quickly work through the feelings, and dismantle old limiting beliefs.
- She became clear on the behaviors that stemmed from the anxiety and were keeping her from achieving what she wanted.
- She created a new set of behaviors that matched her vision of success.
What was the outcome?
Upon the conclusion of her project, Becca told me she was ecstatic. She said that the entire production flowed smoothly and exactly as she had envisioned it. In fact, she received feedback from her team on how smooth and enjoyable the entire experience had been.
She had successfully held an all-staff meeting at the launch of the project, and delivered her 'pep-talk' where she clearly articulated her vision. She didn't buckle!
We're now working on further dismantling the anxiety around promoting her work.
Sometimes challenges such as anxiety can be like peeling an onion. You tackle one layer successfully and then you're ready for the next. Each layer is easier than the previous one and, just like an onion, after each layer, you're quite different than the layer before.
Becca is forever changed.
She now has access to new tools and she has experienced herself successfully operating in a completely new way of being! The next layer will be far easier.