I am a worrier, which curtails my sense of adventure and live smaller than my abilities. This leads others to see me as a wise (I please others too much) but safe person who lives passively. Underneath I know I'm bright (I have 5 University Degrees) and would love to break boundaries. How do I stop worrying, stop caring what others think and become friendly but positive and assertive?
It is a pleasure to see you taking stock of your life and consciously exploring the areas you need to improve. This is a productive way to spend January each year. As a result, you have many wonderful goals to write down for your new year's resolutions. If you take action on these goals you will reap a bountiful harvest at the end of 2011.
It is productive to look back over each year and list all of your accomplishments. Feel proud of your successes and acknowledge the areas you need to work on in the coming year. As I evaluate my personal and professional goals with my mentor, I also take stock of what I need to do differently in the areas I failed in. Then I schedule in the education I need in order to be more successful in the coming year.
Let not any year go by where you stay unconscious and allow your life to disappear without taking positive actions toward your purpose in life.
It is also fantastic that you have such a strong desire to break through your boundaries. Your desire will definitely help you be successful. Most people put water on their desire so that they do not have enough potent energy available to move forward. When you climb mountains, you need plenty of good, strong, healthy energy if you want to reach the top.
If you have 5 university degrees you certainly know a great deal of information. Yet, information alone is not enough to help you break free from the chains that bind you. From my observations, the people with the most education are sometimes the ones who have the hardest time relaxing, feeling comfortable in their own skin and enjoying life.
My first summer job was at a state institution in North Carolina, USA where children with low IQ's were living. The children with Downs Syndrome where particularly interesting because they were so happy. The first thing I noticed was how happy they were no matter what happened.
As soon as I arrived at work, the Down's Syndrome children all gathered around me with smiling faces, excited and eager to engage. They came out and greeted me before I entered the front door. I hugged and greeted them back as we moved through the building as a group of happy energy.
This was my first major lesson in happiness. Intelligence has nothing to do with what it takes to be happy. As a matter of fact intelligence seems to be a major deterrent. After studying human behavior for 34 years as a licensed psychologist, I must say that the way most humans currently use their brain contributes greatly to their misery.
The human brain is easy to condition and as a result humans are easy to control. Thus parents, governments and religions impose their biases and false beliefs on people. This is how Hitler was able to do such massive damage to so many people in such a short time. He conditioned people to do what he wanted them to do. And what he wanted them to do was heartless.
As my German friends have taught me, we need to learn from the Hitler experience and become wiser, stronger and freer. Most parents have not deconditioned themselves. Therefore, they unconsciously pass on all their unhealthy conditioning to their children. Children become adults who are inhibited and passive. Some children become adults who are out of control and aggressive instead of passive.
So my hope for you is that you gather the courage to begin to break free from your conditioning and unhealthy learning. To me this is the single most important thing you can do with your life. Not only will it make your life rich and rewarding, it will also help future generations live more freely.
It is helpful that you already know that you are trying to please other people. This is your conditioning. You learned to care more about what other people think, than what you think. You learned to seek approval from others instead of doing what is best for you. As a result, you play it passive. You keep a low profile and thus have an ordinary, mundane life. You have been conditioned to inhibit your natural, spontaneous, joyful, relaxed self.
In order to break boundaries and live an extraordinary, exciting, meaningful life you have to step out of your brain and leave your conditioning behind you. This is the pathway to what Yoga calls self-realization and Maslow calls self-actualization.
Worry is one of the ways you control yourself. I am sure it is not the only way. When you worry you keep yourself from breaking free. I would call worry a subset of anxiety. Worry is related to anxiety but it is not the same energy as an anxiety or panic attack. Worry is a very controlled mental activity. The results are massive body inhibition.
In contrast, anxiety attacks occur when the body is out of control. Usually people who worry do not have frequent full-blown panic or anxiety attacks. Worry occurs more in the brain and head; panic occurs more in the nervous system and body.
I come from a family of worriers. I grew up on the farm in North Carolina, where my father worried, "Will it rain tomorrow? If it rains it will ruin the hay in the field." He also worried, "If it does not rain this week, the corn will dry up." Notice that my Dad's worries are about real concerns that he could not control.
Worry starts out as a real concern that you care about and then your mental activity becomes a problem because you continue to think about it repeatedly. As you obsess over and over again your energy gets tighter and tighter. The tighter your energy gets, the less you move freely in the world.
Soon worry becomes a habit and generalizes to many other areas in your life. As a result you are scared to move in more and more situations. Then you worry as a conditioned response when there is nothing to worry about! Therefore you do not live a life of freedom and adventure.
If you continue without breaking through your boundaries your life will continue to be mundane. If you use your desire to fuel you, you can begin to use more of your human potential and reclaim your natural, healthy self. Your passion, plus necessary education, effective coaching and correct actions, will help you break free from your chains.
A recent personnel study found that working with audio and manuals improved people's performance by 23%. Adding coaching "amped up" their performance to 88%! Reading and listening is helpful. However, following the guidance of the best coach, psychologist or mentor you can find will make sure you reach the top of your mountain.
If you take a look at your chains, you will see that they are composed of your own judgmental thoughts. Your mental judgments stop you from moving, dancing, being, breathing, expanding and having adventures. Judgmental energy makes you anxious and too scared to move.
You may think that you are controlled by other people's judgments and other people may or may not judge you. However, if you do not judge yourself, there will be no inhibition. It is only when you agree with the external judgments that they have the power to control you and stop you from moving forward.
De-controlling yourself is a process. Your judgmental thoughts can be reduced over time with deliberate, appropriate action. As a holistic psychologist I would not attempt to stop you from caring about what others think. Of course, you care. Your caring is a wonderful quality. Instead, start to care more about yourself and follow your own heart and desire instead of being controlled by outside factors.
My holistic approach is quite different from the Cognitive Behavior Therapy approach, which is currently popular. In my approach, the essential ingredient is to add energy to your body so that the excessive energy in your head is reduced. Changing your thinking from negative to positive, like Cognitive Behavior Therapy teaches you to do, will not permanently change your conditioning and body inhibition.
You need to shift your energy so there is energy moving throughout your whole body and not just your head. This is the reason I developed a unique, holistic psychology approach to anxiety, worry and negative thinking. By adding energy and body awareness exercises to my "Overcome Anxiety Naturally
" classes and online course, I got much better results.
When you learn how to tame your thoughts so that they do not inhibit your body movements you will be much more positive. If you want to be assertive, which I highly recommend, you need to take an Assertiveness Training course. Then put into practice what you learn in the course. With practice and follow up coaching, you will become skillful.
Being assertive is a lifetime skill that needs to be continuously developed and improved. I have been teaching assertiveness skills to women and men for 35 years. Even though I am comfortable being assertive in most situations, life situations constantly throw obstacles, challenges and new fears in my path for me to face. So I am getting an assertive training "tune up" as I prepare for the telecourse I am teaching starting January 18.
Another realistic goal you can add to your new year's resolutions list is to not worry about how much you worry! Until you feel safer being yourself, you will not be able to give up worrying. You will feel safer as your self-judgments begin to disappear.
Then you will be able to step away from your conditioning and have many more fun, exciting and rewarding adventures.
Action Steps to Take to Break Free
- Get physical. Get up and move, dance, play, express yourself through your body. Engaging in any physical activity is helpful. The less controlling the activity, the better it is for you. I am not a big fan of most Yoga approaches because your brain tells your body how to posture. But Yoga is better than no movement so start somewhere.
- Tame your thoughts and reduce judgmental energy. Become aware of your judgmental thoughts and begin the taming process. To get started, I recommend the "Tame Your Thoughts" audio. (This audio is also included in the "Overcome Anxiety Naturally" online course which teaches you how to shift your energy so there is energy moving throughout your whole body and not just your head.)
- Take an acting class. Acting classes are great for breaking through boundaries. Fine the best teacher in your area and sign up for her or his class.
- Take an Assertiveness Training course. If you took an assertive course a long time ago, sign up for a refresher course. Look around for local courses at community colleges and mental health centers. Or sign up for "Stop the World From Pushing You Around: Six Weeks to Solid Self-Confidence," an Assertiveness Training Telecourse starting Jan. 18th, 2011
Coaching copyright © 2010 Dr. Doris Jeanette
Doris Jeanette, Psy.D, has ventured past her boundaries since she was 2 1/2 when she left home, looking for playmates. Join her mentoring and certification programs in holistic psychology and sign up for her free holistic psychology newsletter, "