Facing problems: Do you shut down or find a solution?

SillyGrrl.com // Facing problems: Do you shut down or find a solution?

A few years ago, if plans changed at the last minute I would end up with mega anxiety. Well, not would have, the words I’m looking for are actually did and many times.

I’d already set in my brain the way things were going to go – planned my route from leaving work to walking the dog, changing my outfit, and leaving my house at a certain time. In my mind this was set in stone and at the last minute if I had to meet someone earlier, eat before I went out, or drive when I’d expected to be picked up – anxiety ensued. Unnecessary anxiety, but anxiety just the same. And after anxiety generally came reluctance and the immediate need to bail.

I had zero concept of going with the flow or finding a solution. Anxiety kicked in and my brain immediately decided yes or no based on my ability to find a solution in about 2.5 seconds. No solution, no go. No listening to reason, finding a way, making it work, just NO.

And let me tell you, I missed out on a lot of cool things because of this. A LOT.

At some point I was called out on my shit, figured out that I was filled with anxiety for no reason and got my ass in gear.

So, how can you stop the onslaught of anxiety and re-train your brain to look for a solution first?

Pause. For a few minutes, for a few days. Even though you really, really want to throw your hands in the air and give up, cancel or quit, get in the habit of stopping yourself and focusing on where the anxiety is coming from. Writing helps a lot. It unties some of the knots in your brain and might give you an answer without too much digging.

Look back on the times you’ve said no or jumped ship. Make a list of all the good things you missed out on. The people you might have met, the places you could have gone, the opportunities that could have been yours.

Is this life or death? Sometimes things seem extremely important, but unless it is going to cause immediate irreparable harm, it really isn’t. No need to freak out.

Control what you can. My anxiety stems mostly from feeling out of control and not knowing the plan, but if I can nail down a couple things I know will happen I feel more relaxed. Though sometimes all you can control is your reaction – are you going to have a meltdown or go with the flow and figure it out?

Look at it from another angle. Maybe the new plan or idea is actually better than the old one and you’re only feeling uncomfortable because it’s different.

Talk about it. Tell the person on the other side of this new plan/idea that it’s freaking you out a little. They will probably help you get through it and be more sensitive in the future. There’s nothing worse than having anxiety and the person you’re with thinking you’re just being a jerk.

When your brain says No, blurt out Yes instead. Just say yes, panic afterward and then figure it out as you go along. It will be OK, really, it will!

I’m still not always great at shutting off that panic button and calming my anxiety before it starts, but I can say it’s been years since I’ve cancelled on someone just because I was a little stressed by a last minute change or I wasn’t sure how a crazy idea was going to work.

Two questions for you today…

Have you ever missed out on something awesome because you were quick to bail or say no?

What cool shit have you done because you just said yes and then figured out how to make it work?

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  1. says

    Guilty ;) Although I’m getting waaaaay better at it. But I’ve actually had minor (and major) breakdowns over plan-changes. “Oh god, my evening (/life) is ruined.” Turns out, usually that’s not true.

    Answers: To question 1, actually I think I’ve been lucky, and haven’t missed out on too many opportunities. (I think I’m better at saying yes than I give myelf credit for. However, I’m working on creating more opportunities myself instead of waiting around for them.)

    To question 2: I’ve been to Japan. I’ve started my own business (which is subject to many violently shifting plans at the moment). I’ve become a karate black belt. I’ve found the best guy in the world. We’ve done loads of cool shit together. I’ve found client work. I’ve had my work exhibited. I’ve been on a spontaneous trip to the beach. I’ve learnt cool stuff like bookbinding and calligraphy. I’ve started my Feldenkrais training. I’ve gotten to know cool and interesting people. -> Life is good.

  2. says

    Uh-oh, anxiety, my friend. Enemy more like it. However, I have also learned that agreeing to everything also might lead me to having a bad time. Because sometimes I try to say yes to everything. And then I burn out or just have crap time. x) Though I have bunch of examples that prove the opposite. :)
    I guess moving to Spain was kinda crazy as I didn’t speak the language. But here I am and all is good. (:

    • says

      Moving to Spain is definitely crazy in my book, but one of those things that has the potential to be an incredible adventure. I’ve been working on having the balls (and the money) to at least vacation out of the country.

  3. says

    When I think about it, I sort of feel like my 20s were one big anxiety-ridden NO!
    I missed out on so many experiences. When I turned 30, I think something clicked and I started letting myself say Yes! more often.

    The biggest Yes! that I can remember happened while I was travelling for business. I was alone in a NY hotel, checking out different blogs and kept seeing “MQG”; which stood for Modern Quilt Guild. I didn’t have a clue what it was, so I did some research and before I knew it, I shot off an email telling them that I’d like to start a St. Louis branch. I didn’t know the first think about running a quilt guild; but that didn’t stop me. Three years later, I’m still President, we have 80 members and I have not only made the most incredible friends (like seriously, these girls are like Sisters to me); but it has opened up so many more doors within the industry. And all of that because I said Yes!

    • says

      I turn 30 in a few months and I’m so ready to be out of my 20s! I love that you jumped into something new, something that takes responsibility and planning, without over thinking it. And I’m totally impressed that you have 80 members – I never realized quilting was so huge!

  4. says

    I’m totally guilty of doing this. Anxiety has stopped me from doing more things than I care to admit. However, every so often, I don’t let me anxiety hold me back: In college one of the organizations I was a member of was hosting a winter break trip to Mississippi to help rebuild houses. Well I thought it sounded like fun, but of course my anxiety started taking over. Luckily, I didn’t let the anxiety win and I went on the trip. Best decision ever. I had a great time and I did something out of my comfort zone, which I think made the trip that much more amazing.

  5. says

    This is a great post! I was like this for a long time, too! I would totally freak out over the smallest changes and I would quit. Luckily, I learned to cut the crap. After a while of forcing myself to just deal with the situation, I don’t get anxiety about newness anymore. Now I welcome it! I can relate to this post a great deal!

  6. Nell says

    Great blog post! Really, genuinely worth-reading and taking note for me. I’m working on saying yes a little more. When a friend asked if I wanted to leave my life and go travelling for 18 months I said yes (reluctantly). When she had a family crisis and bailed on me two weeks before we left to go, I freaked out. I threw stuff. Then I carried on with my plans. I left my job. I left my flat. I jumped on a plane to Australia where I knew no one.

    It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

    But I met my fiancé on that journey. If she had come with me then there is no way I would have even crossed his path. And now we’ve travelled and worked in so many places and settling in Edinburgh next month and getting married.

    The best things happen when you just say yes and go with the flow.

  7. says

    I know this feeling so well. I was a jumper – in and out pretty quickly. I’ve learnt to slow down and feel the right answer for me in each situation these days. Sometimes anxiety still raises it’s head, but I know now that it’s a reaction rather than reality. Looking back a big part of these situations for me came about because I was unable to trust my gut and say no to something that didn’t feel right in the first place. Nowadays, there are more growth opportunities, than boundary setting opps which is great. The biggest “Oh-crap-I-said-yes-now-let’s-make-it-work” scenario for me was taking the leap with my coaching business. I’d been studying for ages and was really anxious to take the leap. Now, I’m am more grateful than ever that I did!