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?
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:
- I stopped myself from any knee-jerk reaction.
- I acknowledged I was feeling vulnerable.
- 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!