What to do when you wake-up-and-worry

  Ever woken up in the morning already afraid of a tough conversation you need to have?

That was me the other day. Within a minute of opening my eyes I remembered what I went to bed trying to forget: a call I needed to make and not knowing how the person would respond. My worry joined me under the covers and then followed me through my daily routine. What if I get the words wrong? What if it ruins our friendship? 

In Brené Brown'sThe Gift of Imperfection, she talks about the poo-poo platter of fear, perfection (I may have mentioned that one before), and scarcity.

Underneath whatever you tell yourself is happening is the discomfort of being vulnerable. 

Bingo. My morning wake-up-and-worry was about me not being able to control what would happen with our conversation or how she would react, and feeling vulnerable about it.

In the past when this happened, I would be nearly incapacitated from getting anything else accomplished and would finally succumb to apologizing instead of sharing my point of view, hopeful that the other person didn't notice anything was wrong. 

I'm happy to report how different things went this time. Not so much the conversation (though it went well too!), but what happened inside of me to all that worry.

The antidote to fear, Brené says, is gratitude. Before reacting as I normally would, I took these three steps:

  1. I stopped myself from any knee-jerk reaction.
  2. I acknowledged I was feeling vulnerable.
  3. I looked for something to be grateful for.

This technique worked immediately. The second I said out loud to myself, "I am feeling vulnerable," an unexpected wave of calm washed over me. Seriously, it took one second.

It slowed me down to see what was really happening: fear of the unknown, of being wrong, of losing love and respect. Acknowledging my vulnerability allowed me to be with it in a gentle, kind way.

Exactly the attention I would give someone I care about. This time that someone was me.

The next part was the biggest surprise. 

The third step is gratitude. What did I choose? I was grateful for my vulnerability suddenly appreciative of the role it plays in my life. If this person weren't important to me - if being understood and respected weren't important to me - I would not have been as anxious about our conversation. I love all of those things about myself!

This realization also made me grateful to be afraid, because it means I'm moving into uncharted, worthwhile territory. I needed to hear myself ask for what I needed no matter the outcome. It means I'm building better relationships, and I'm more aware of and sensitive to my own feelings.

It's incredible what happens when you notice anxiousness and see what's really happening.

Do you ever wake-up-and-worry? Try these three steps and tell me what you think, or share what works best for you!

This wasn't what I had in mind

"...so why does it feel so right?"

Nearly one year ago to the day my friend - writer and communications consultant Amanda Hirsch - along with her husband and young daughter uprooted from their home in Brooklyn to resettle near their families in Washington, D.C. 

Nearly one year later to the day, they are moving back to New York City, and she's leaving her successful consulting business to return to corporate America.

I think I can speak for most of the readers of her blog, Having it Alt, that this wasn't what any of us had in mind for her either. After hearing her story, though, it makes perfect sense.

"From our first conversation, I felt a strong connection...and the more we talked, the more I felt this pull — this feeling of rightness. When they asked if I might consider a new full-time role they were creating, I said yes, I was open to that. It turns out, that role is pretty much made for me."

Today's LeapStory is about that feeling of rightness. What can feel like a never-ending uphill search that suddenly turns into the clearest, most comforting "Of Course" ever.

Amanda is not only a good friend, but also a fellow A-student-at-life. She knows what it's like to spend a whole lot of time and mental energy trying to make the right choice. We may have had more than one, two, five intense conversations wondering: Is this it? Or, is this? How will you know for sure?!?

Then, as most of us have experienced and Amanda just did this week, the right choice walks up and taps you on the shoulder, and all of that wondering fades away as if it was never really that hard to figure out. It doesn't matter that this wasn't what I had in mind. The clarity of an answer can feel so good we just run at it full speed without looking back.

But that look back is instrumental to every future leap and to making the most of this right one that just found you. Here's a quick assignment.

Remember a feeling of rightness from your present or past. How you knew the right college for you (I saw a gorgeous tree with low hanging branches in the center of campus, and my gut said yes), the right partner, the right city... Next, write down:

  • How did you feel before, when you didn't know and were trying so hard to figure it out?
  • What was the moment when You Knew? That feeling of rightness and shoulder tap. Where were you, what happened, what was the feeling inside? Capture every detail.
  • How did this feeling of rightness set in motion more things falling into place?

Because that happens, too. Suddenly you know the direction to go in and people, ideas, opportunities open up in front of you. Keep the answers to these questions somewhere special, so the next time you're searching for the right answer they can remind you not to work so hard, asking everyone for their opinions. You will know.

Here's to the feeling of rightness finding you today, like it has for Amanda. In case it comes tomorrow instead, may her words help in the meantime:

"My mantra these days, as I share news of this major life change with family and friends, is, 'Life is weird.' It really is! Weird and wonderful in its ability to surprise us — and beautiful, in how it provides space for us to continue to surprise ourselves."