I have been a psychotherapist and life coach for a while. I got my first client in 1990 and have been working in some capacity ever since. In 1985 I was a social worker at Child Protective Services after I got my Master’s Degree in 1982. And in 1976, at seventeen years old, when I first stepped on the campus of Southern Illinois University, I declared my major as Social Work.
I have tried to make a life and career interacting with and offering assistance to my fellow human being. This sounds noble, but truth be told I couldn’t do much else. Lousy at math, science, reading, and history. I could do nothing with my hands, knew no trades, and hated business, marketing, and sales. The only marketable skill I ever had was being nice to people. They interested me. So, early on, I figured that this might be the way to go.
And though I was supposed to know what the hell I was talking about, that didn’t really take hold. Like, ever. Along the way, I have struggled with impulsive anger, people pleasing, horrifically low self confidence, clinical depression and chronic anxiety so bad that I developed scarring on my skin from the physical symptoms of anxiety.
Ram Dass said, “you can only go as far as your therapist has gone.” For the most part, he’s right. You can take dieting tips from a fat person, but they can’t tell you what it’s like to endure the daily struggle to actually lose the weight. I think I made a difference in people’s lives by offering them the blueprint to personal improvement. People have actually thanked me for saving their lives or the lives of their children. But I had no idea what that felt like, or how they actually went through the process of change. I never did it myself. I hadn’t changed to the person I needed to be. I didn’t “walk the walk.”
In 2011 and early 2012, I had a comeuppance. Through my own shortsightedness and selfish behavior, my life was falling apart. I was face to face with either continuing on the path of the person I’ve been, or change it and create a new, more honest, less controlling, more accepting, more humble and less fearful journey to become the person I think I’m supposed to be.
And if I was to do this, I needed to stop being afraid. Afraid of conflict, afraid of not being in control, afraid of economic insecurity, afraid of being wrong…and afraid of not knowing how to make any changes that had any lasting impact was at the top of the list.
I needed to leave my fears and anxiety behind. I cannot say I’m completely free from anxiety, but today it is a rare occurrence that passes quickly.
Here’s the way I’ve discovered to overcoming any fear. I’m not perfect at this, not by any means. There are days that I still have bouts of anxiety, anger and frustration. But it’s better. I try to be a good person. I hope I’m more accepting and open, and offer fewer thoughts of criticism and more of kindness.
Unless I’m in traffic. Or in line behind people at the grocery store who are actually talking to the person at the register and there’s a line of about ten of us waiting to get the hell out of there.
Other than that, I’m better. And I got here through the steps I’m about to share.
This works for me. I think and hope it will work for you too, wherever you are, no matter how old you are. It is not dependent upon your economic situation, your state of employment, or whether you’re in a relationship. It is not dependent upon your race, sex, or level of education.
One solution, five stages:
Stay in the moment. Concentrate on your breathing-and focus on your nose, not your mouth-and keep it there. Get your body as relaxed as possible through that breathing, and look only to what is in front of you. FOR JUST ONE MINUTE, keep yourself from looking five minutes ahead. No looking down the road, no planning your next step. Just stay here. Now.
Ask for help. Not just, “Can I borrow twenty bucks?” You want to go for the longer vision when you ask for help. Your requests should be help for employment, first and foremost. If economic and employment security is not an issue, your help should be in the short and long term for relationship help. If that’s not an issue, and you’re looking for emotional support, be deliberate but careful in whom you’ll share your feelings with.Ask for somebody you feel you can trust and will listen. Should that fall short, I know folks you can talk to. Email me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Take the “next indicated step.” Pick a direction, and stay with it. You are not going to scale every mountaintop in this lifetime. Pick a path and complete one trek at a time. That “trek” may be getting out of bed, taking a shower, and driving yourself to work. Or just finding work to do.
You do this one day at a time. You wake up, you do the aforementioned until you go to sleep. Just this day. Cliche, I know, but it’s often what keeps your sanity grounded.
There are four things in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that are really hard to do. But if you do them, you’re on the road to a better life. They are answering these four questions: “Was I honest?” “Was I afraid?” “Was I angry?” “Was I selfish?” Look at your answers to these questions. If you can answer “Yes, No, No, and No,” you’ve had a good day.
And lastly, and most importantly,
6) Find your faith again. Allah, Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, Krishna, Mother Earth, Father Sky, The Field of Infinite Potential, whatever. Go to that place of faith and trust a little. It helps letting go of control, dropping your anxiety, and recreate a sense of peace and happiness. A dear friend gave me a prayer card years ago that said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct your paths. And try not to wear white after Labor Day.”
That last part is in the Bible, probably somewhere in the back. But trust in something bigger than you helps. For me, some days it’s God, other days it’s my wife.
But because of what I’ve just shared, I think I’m closer to the person I’m supposed to be.
Good luck. Call me if you’re stuck. I’ll do my best to help.
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
Offices in San Diego and Denver, but will travel to meet onsite anywhere in the United States and the World.