How I Handled Anxiety
Our MD Pete and his Story
As a business, we work with hundreds of brokers and finance professionals – and our own team – to identify blockages and the main levers to pull to increase productivity. Everyone is, of course, in a different stage in life and has different challenges ahead of them, but there is a common denominator – what’s between the ears.
We’ve started to notice more and more people with stress in various forms, whether that’s in something more obvious like anxiety or depression, or something subtle, such as motivation, limiting beliefs, or that ‘indescribable thing’ getting in the way.
Enter, our campaign!
Hence why our campaign to help people improve their personal situations began. We started with our own team and made available different resources for those who wanted them, as well as holding our own Clarity Conference last year for colleagues, friends and family. Now, having identified a real gap in what firms offer consumers in our industry, I’m really pleased to be able to include our customers.
Thankfully, or not, depending on your perspective, I’ve had first hand experience of how stress and anxiety can impact your life. I choose to look on this as a positive, as tougher times forced me into studying and ultimately overcoming my own personal challenge, and I’m keen to share what I’ve learned.
My issue was anxiety. I would get lost in a spiral of negative thoughts and feelings to the point of overwhelm, several times a week, for about three years. In a similar way to training your biceps in the gym, where regular heavy lifting results in increased size and strength of muscle, regular vivid thought patterns firing off results in increased strength and size of the anxiety. I became a bodybuilding expert for the neural pathways in my mind, and, with every firing synapse, I made it easier and quicker to slip into a terrifying state.
This constant and sustained repetition made what would have been fun and exciting events like meeting up with friends or going out partying something that filled me with dread. That was until one moment in the shower, of all places, where I caught myself out, and everything started to change.
What I did about it
Over the years I’d developed a thirst for personal development and often read different business or motivational books, many of which have helped shape our business in a lot of ways. I think this started me off on a quest to figure it out, rather than approach a doctor or look for medical help. Not that I recommend this as a course of action, however – everyone is different.
I studied all the standard and prescribed approaches, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), and even things like Hypnosis and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). I started to make some progress with NLP and even attended a master-practitioner training course, but there was still something missing. I realise now that ‘additive’ approaches to this, that is, thinking you need something more/to change/to be better at X, Y, or Z, is exhausting, and moments of relief and clarity are fleeting and rare.
What actually worked?
Then Jamie Smart introduced me to Clarity and the Three Principles, and my understanding and perspective of what was going on completely shifted.
The shower moment for me was the first time I’d actually become conscious of my thought pattern spiralling out of control. It had happened almost daily for years without me realising, but, on this day, I’d traced my gut wrenching feeling back through each thought to the initial trigger point, and realised I was doing it all to myself. None of what I had thought was or could possibly have been true, yet I’d allowed my thinking to trick me.
Being honest, the principles behind Clarity sounded too simple and obvious the first time I heard them and I missed the point. Nevertheless, I continued to listen to various audios and attended a few seminars, and it must have slowly sunk in, and then the lights came on. It wasn’t a dramatic experience, but to me it was profound.
Fast forward to today and I’ve had perhaps eight years of relative peace of mind, enjoyment, and personal and professional growth beyond my expectations. Sure, I still have periods where I might get nervous or anxious, but no longer do I suffer from them, and they often dissipate in seconds, not days.
I’ve stopped going to the neural gym on those negative pathways, and, as a result, that muscle has wasted away – I honestly can’t even remember the old trigger points that used to start me off.
I could likely go on for another few hours, so, to summarise what I’ve learned, I’d say that from all my research, reading and experiences of the last few years, the headlines for me were:
- Feelings only EVER come from thoughts.
Your feelings are just signals that your thinking is off, your barometer for how clear your thinking is. If you feel bad, you’ve been thinking about something consciously or subconsciously, in a negative way.
- Your natural state is peaceful.
Rather than thinking you need to do something to get to a peaceful state, when you’re stressed or anxious, it’s your thinking that has taken you out of one.
- Your mind will settle on its own.
Don’t try too hard to manage your thoughts or dwell on things, it just adds to the energy you spend on the worry, just get on with doing something else.
- There’s no good or bad thing.
The same incident means completely different things to different people, so, just because you think/believe/feel like it’s bad, doesn’t mean it is. As well as this, you never know what’s around the corner. One of my favourite stories to explain this is the Taoist story of a farmer and his horse:
One day, his horse runs away. And his neighbour comes over and says, to commiserate: “I’m so sorry about your horse.” And the farmer says: “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?” The neighbour is confused, because this is clearly terrible. The horse is the most valuable thing he owns.
But the horse comes back the next day and he brings with him 12 feral horses. The neighbour comes back over to celebrate: “Congratulations on your great fortune!” And the farmer replies again: “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?”
And the next day the farmer’s son is taming one of the wild horses, and he’s thrown and breaks his leg. The neighbour comes back over: “I’m so sorry about your son.” The farmer repeats: “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?”
Sure enough, the next day, the army comes through their village and is conscripting able-bodied young men to go and fight in war, but the son was spared because of his broken leg.
- Nothing you can think is true.
If you’re in your head dreaming (positive or negative) about the future, it’s not real. If you’re thinking about something that happened in the past, your memory of it is merely an echo, it’s no more factual than remembering every scene in a film you saw a few weeks ago. Close your eyes and think of everything that’s orange in the room around you. Open them and have a look around – there’ll be loads you never noticed. “Live in the moment” is something I read a million times before I started to actually see what it meant for me. The future or past is just made up in your mind and you’re only ever just guessing, so don’t pay much attention to it.
We have collated a series of resources from the things I’ve read and watched that I feel have helped the most over the years in the wellbeing section of our site. There’s all manner of content with explanations, metaphors and anecdotes to explain the same fundamental things – hopefully you find something that will spark insight and help you handle whatever it is you want to change.
Good luck and thanks for reading/supporting us!
My understanding and perspective of what was going on completely shifted.
“ The shower moment for me, was the first time I’d actually become conscious of my thought pattern spiralling out of control. It had happened almost daily for years without me realising, but on this day I’d traced my gut wrenching feeling back through each thought, to the initial trigger point, and realised I was doing it all to myself. None of what I had thought was or could possibly have been true, yet I’d allowed my thinking to trick me. “Read more on our Wellbeing Section here Read more on our Wellbeing Section here
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