An artist told me that one of the best things his chiropractor ever did for him was to tell him to ask one question whenever he felt stressed.
“Ask for something.”
What you ask for can be something you probably don’t think you have the right to ask for. In his case, it was time. He was at the beginning of his career and said yes to almost every project that came his way, even if it wasn’t the right thing for him.
His fear of missing out on an opportunity or not knowing how he was going to pay his bills was a relentless anxiety that drove him to the point of becoming so stressed with pains in his body that he went to see this chiropractor on a steady basis.
Many people are paralyzed by options. Rather than be completely present in the choices they have made, their eye is constantly on the horizon wondering if they made the wrong choice or worse, they say yes to everything because they don’t know how to say no.
This will inevitably result in overwhelm and a good measure of self doubt that can often trigger physical pain and discomfort.
When we’re anxious and stressed, it’s easy to look at all of the tasks that lie ahead of us and become overwhelmed. At times, we’re stopped in our tracks and completely shut down. We have reached our breaking point. At this point, anxiety is very high, and our ability to cope seems very low. The good news is that we have the power to prevent ourselves from breaking. Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
When overload hits, it feels like the walls are caving in on you. Despair and helplessness usually follow and if you are like me, the knot in your stomach can make you crumble. Left alone to our already overworked imaginations, we picture a scenario that grows bigger and darker with no way out.
At this point, your fear can really do real harm to your mental and physical well being and the one person who is allowing it and who has the power to stop it is – you.
Which is why the question the chiropractor recommended is so important.
This artist asked for more time. He was drowning in deadlines. He could not possibly deliver high quality work at the promised times and he needed more time.
When he did ask, it made a tremendous difference. In fact, it changed his world.
He realized it is OK to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness or amateurism or anything bad he had imagined in his head to ask for what you need. In his case, people were willing to give him the time to complete the project because they believed in him and they were invested in the success of it as much as he was.
Something else changes in your relationship with your fear when you raise your hand to ask for help.
You are no longer a powerless victim. You have taken one step to overcoming your gremlin. You have claimed your agency to changing the power dynamic.
Once you have done that, you can take another step. And another, until you have taken back your castle and banished the gremlins.
Make a list
You will need a lighthouse to guide you out of the storm. This is something you can do by sitting quietly, taking a few good deep breaths and writing yourself a list of just 3 things you can do to make things better. Not 5 or 10 things, just 3. It is more important to give yourself momentum with a few small successes in the beginning. Cross each thing off your list as you do them and really celebrate each one. You can add more things once you have completed your first 3 if you need to.
Why this works
The combination of putting out a request for help to the world and building your lighthouse changes the energy of your situation.
You are attracting people to rally around you, not as a helpless victim, but as someone who is pushing ahead with a goal. People are good about being helpful and actually want to be part of a bigger goal if you ask.
Having your list of things is a powerful weapon in your hand you can wield against the gremlins beating you up and your path to success.
I recommend you follow these steps as soon as you start feeling stressed:
- Acknowledge the gremlin
“Ah, there you are,” you say to the demon pushing the walls down around you. “I see you and I know what you are doing.”
Size up the gremlin in practical terms without allowing your fear and imagination to make it bigger than it is. Once you do that, you will know exactly what you are up against and what you need to do to overcome your challenge.
- Ask for help
Remember, people are helpful by nature. Let everyone around you know what you need and how they can help.
- Make a list
Write yourself a short list of 3 things you can do right way to solve your problem. Completing these things will get your momentum going and restore your confidence in your own power to change your world.
Life is full of gremlins.
But they are no match for you, your people and your list.