I’m saying you and your child because if your child has anxiety, there is an extremely high chance that you or your partner have it too. So it would be unfair to expect just your child to work on their’s without you or your partner having a go too.
It has been said that humans have approximately 50-60,000 thoughts per day and 95% of those thoughts are the same ones that we had yesterday.
This means we are feeding ourselves the same information over and over again. And what if that information is negative and no good for us?
Anxiety has played a big part in my life. Not only because I’ve experienced it first hand (and it has actually been one of the reasons I ended up doing this for a living), but because I see varying degrees of it on a weekly basis in my coaching practice. If left, anxiety can manifest itself as:-
- over-thinking and constantly worrying about things that never happen
- feeling unsafe and needing constant reassurance
- not eating, not being able to relax or go to sleep (and in some cases night terrors or sleep walking)
- refusing to go to school
- not wanting to be without a parent or adult
- being sick or having a tummy ache / headache or similar
- panic attacks or feelings of helplessness
- being angry or having strong emotional outbursts
- repeated checking, nail biting or teeth grinding
Let’s find a way to express those big scary feelings
In my personal life and my work as a Coach, I have uncovered some truths about anxiety that means it has no place in my life. It works with my clients too and is the reason I created my box of Smiley Though Cards so children (and adults!) can train their brains to think more positively.
I often tell clients that it’s their amazing imaginations that are mis-behaving and we are going to have fun together working out how to get them to work differently so they serve us.
Truth #1. Anxiety Begins With a Thought
Yes, it is a favourite Coach saying: ‘You create your own reality with the thoughts you think!” and nearly all my work stems from this powerful knowing. This is the power behind my Smiley Thought Cards, why they are so magical and loved by families everywhere.How so? Let’s break it down.
It’s the thoughts which come first. They create the feelings or emotions which in turn create the action or behaviour. You can apply this simple model to any behaviours that do not serve you or your child. Here are some examples:
THOUGHT I can’t do my spellings, they are too hard I’m going to get it wrong
FEELING I’m feeling anxious and worried
ACTION I don’t do as well in my spelling test because I’m feeling tense and worked up or I start a fight with my friend because I feel grouchy
THOUGHT I’m scared of the dark, everything is unsafe and scary
FEELING I’m feeling terrified and alone
ACTION I don’t sleep very well or take a long time to go to sleep and my school work suffers
Truth #2. You Are In Control
When we feel as if things are happening around us, we can feel out of control and sometimes we turn into a victim. When we are a victim of circumstances, we are passive. We are also abdicating responsibility for our feelings. ‘That makes me scared.’ Does it? Well you can change that in a heartbeat. You can be accountable and know that you can do something, anything…..even if that is only the way you think about it (see Truth #1). You can also be scared and brave at the same time 🙂
What if I told you that your brain doesn’t know the difference between what it imagines and what is real? OK, stay with me because right now, I want you to close your eyes and imagine there is a spider crawling up your leg. If you are scared of spiders then I can guarantee, that you are feeling a little scared right now. Of course, there is no spider and it’s all in your mind. Yes that’s it, it really is all in your mind. So at all times, you are telling your brain what to think. If you tell your brain over and over ‘I’m safe, I’m Ok, Everything will be fine,’ it will become your truth. Consequently, you will generate feelings of being safe and your body will respond accordingly – i.e. be in a relaxed state.
Truth #3. Anxiety is Energy
We are in control of it. It is not in control of us. We are bigger and stronger than our thoughts and feelings and we are in control of them (see truth #2). Anxiety is our body’s flight or fight response to thinking or feeling we are in danger, but like any emotions or feelings, it is merely energy passing through our body. Nothing lasts forever and so just like the ocean, our emotions rise and fall like waves. If we can be accepting of all the emotions our body experiences and learn to sit with them (breathing and mindfulness help with this) knowing that they will pass, will make a huge difference to how we see anxiety.
Truth #4. It’s What You Call It That Matters
Anxiety is a name that we have given to something that makes us feel afraid, out of control, scared, panicky (fill in the feeling it gives you or your child when they think of the word). So it’s about calling it something else that feels lighter and not so overwhelmingly horrible.
I once coached a little girl who hated doing homework. She said to me ‘Whenever I hear Mum say that word ‘homework’, I feel myself getting angry because it means I have to stop playing.” So we called her homework ‘Me Time’. It meant that she had some time to herself to learn more so she would do well at school.
The associations we have with words, songs, smells, food evoke powerful thoughts and feelings inside of us which cause us to behave in certain ways (see truth #1). What could you call anxiety that wouldn’t feel so bad and that would also feel as if it was something that was manageable?
Make friends with your worries and listen to them
I call it ‘having a wobble’ which feels like a small thing that I can manage. Another client of mine compared her anxiety to a naughty puppy dog that needed training and once she knew that she could train it, she found it amusing. That’s a far cry from those horrible, scary overwhelming feelings. She even made friends with her anxiety! I’ve also learned that too. My wobbles are part of who I am and I can’t change that, but there are plenty of things I can do to help myself (no victim mentality remember as you are always in control).
I have some Smiley stuff to help you if you are a worrier
If you want to start creating a smiley toolkit to help you feel good from the inside out, here are a few ways I can help you:
- My Get Your Worries Out Workshop is perfect for 7-10 year olds to learn creative coaching techniques
- My magical box of Smiley Thought Cards are a fun and easy way to train your brain to think positively
- Smiley TV is my creative online coaching programme that helps children learn valuable life skills from the comfort of their own front room