How To Drop The Angst And Get On With Your Day

spiral tribeI can’t tell you what a relief it is, not to have to think too much about what I’m going to write here, but just to turn up to the page.

And know that whatever comes out will have some meaning.

Or not.

And that either way, I’ll be okay.

Thinking about writing

You might remember that a couple of weeks ago I wrote about emergent habits. Well, it seems my latest habit is to publish a post each Tuesday. Last night I clocked that today was the day.

But what to write about? And how?

Especially as a couple of the more recent posts have had a good response both on and offline.

My first idea was to write more about habits. Maybe I should go back to the habits post, I thought, and emulate whatever it was I’d captured there. I can mimic writing styles sometimes. Why not my own?

Or, maybe I’ll sift through some of my favorite bloggers’ most recent stuff and get inspiration there?

Or, maybe…

And then I stopped myself and understood that I was once again gripped by angst.

I’d got caught up again in that outside-in place I talked about in the post I wrote when my site was hacked.

Of caring too much about the impact of my writing. Giving over too much to the kind of marketing ideas that say I have to choose a specific theme and write about it in a particular way.

To convince you.

A process which overlooks at least two important things:

First, that my own wisdom knows by itself what to do and what to write when I turn up to a blank page.

And, second, that you and I are already connected whether we understand that or not and that I don’t therefore have to convince you of anything.

In that moment, I saw that the only thing I needed to do was just honor my commitment to being here and writing.

To just ship it, as Godin would say.

Which is, I guess, what I’m doing right now.

Welcome to the phenomenon of superstitious thinking

Meantime please tell me you do this kind of thing too. Maybe not about writing but about other things in your life.

That meeting you’ve got lined up.

The conversation you want to have.

The performance you have to give.

What goes on for you before these thing?

Don’t you angst?

Don’t you rehearse them in your head a hundred times; fret about what you want to say? Think about what you’ll do?

Don’t you think about the impact you want to have? Don’t you worry about the possibility of something happening that you’re not able to deal with? An unexpected question? A strategic move from someone else you hadn’t anticipated?

Don’t you brood about how it will all land? What kind of outcome you’ll have?

Feeling that if you don’t get it…

What?

That you’ll have failed some how? That you’ll be less than? That you will somehow have to think about what next to do to get some control back?

It’s so real, right? All this mental hoopla.

It’s so very real.

It sure has been for me.

Thinking versus in-the-moment reality

But here’s something I understood only a few days ago. The headfuck that goes on for me around a whole variety of things often bears no relation at all to what happens for me in the moment of actually doing something.

Like now. Right now I am 558 words into writing a post and it’s flying off my finger tips. I’m enjoying the experience. Not quite sure where it’s all going as I create it. But it’s gripping enough for me to write and I’m having fun.

But last night?

Not so much.

And with other things too. I can angst about a piece of upcoming work. Think I’m going to feel really uncomfortable and nervous. Only for the thing to go well when I’m actually there.

The biggest insight is for me to understand that it’s only ever me who puts myself under all that pressure.

I can convince myself that it all comes from outside – OMG, what if the client thought I was crap? – but it always only ever comes from inside my own imagination.

The magic solution

From a woman who has till now written lots of list and how-to posts, it may come as a shock to hear me say that the remedy for this is a simple one:

It’s just to notice that you’re thinking.

More to come on this, I suspect, but the mind has its own self-correcting system and just catching yourself caught up in superstitious thinking is enough to begin to dispel it.

Let it go.

Don’t get caught up in all kind of “change the belief” techniques. Or fill your head with affirmations. They’re just another form of noise.

Just notice.

And trust that your own wisdom will come through. Because you do have it. It’s there, if you can quieten your mind and listen to it.

Even if you can’t? Don’t let it stop you from acting. Don’t let it immobilize you. Keep going irrespective.

And sooner or later, you’ll kick its butt and notice just how good it feels when you’ve dropped the angst.

photo by: new 1lluminati
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Comments

  1. Rachael 'Honest' Blair says:

    I am so guilty of this, the ‘what if the client thought I was crap?’ line really resonated with me! I have learned now though, that the times I have thought I’d been totally useless, or worse, unhelpful, in a session, have sometimes been the most transformative for the client… So when I notice that, I try to remember this, and what a wise mentor once told me ‘We don’t learn so much when we get it all right…’ However, I get angst about writing all the time and all too often allow myself to get caught up in it! I try to remember to notice but I would add this (for myself) to your advice… ‘Notice. Take a step back. Breathe. Then just get on with it!’ Sometimes the ‘breathe’ bit can take a whole day (if time allows) but it’s an important step for me.

    P.S. I had a little angst about writing this comment!

    • Christine says:

      How true is that, Rachael: “the times I have thought I’d been totally useless, or worse, unhelpful, in a session, have sometimes been the most transformative for the client”?! I did a whole consulting project a good few years ago now believing myself to be “totally useless” and witnessed some amazing transformation that the client raved about for years.

      And breathing is a good build. It’s definitely grounding and to me that’s quite fundamental to being in flow.

      Thanks for being here, angst or not ;-)

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