Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

The Constraints of No Boundaries

by Rosie Kuhn on August 24, 2011

It’s not uncommon for children to grow up not knowing their own beautiful thoughts and feelings and their essential needs and wants. You might be asking “How can that be?” Well, it’s one of the ravages of families and the individuals inside them. They are at war with themselves with no one to mediate a peace treaty.

In some ways we have no choice in the matter when it comes to which family we arrive into as infants. I don’t know a single soul who asked to be born into violence, depression, poverty and sickness. But here we are, thousands of years of cultivating intelligence within societies and cultures and we still have children arriving in families that just don’t know any better than to fight, implode, feel lack and aching.

So, I’m going out on a limb here and assume that many who are reading this know what I’m talking about. All of us are refugees of families to one degree or another. All of us struggle with who we are as individuals in relation to the world around us. All of us are persons in exile, either from family and friends, and quite often from ourselves.

When, as children it comes to surviving, the majority of us choose to choose survival and belonging rather than choosing to be a lone wolf. Somewhere, somehow our little choice-maker whispers in our ears “don’t think that”; “don’t feel that”; “we don’t need that”; and soon, we forgot that we could want!

Knowing what You Want

“Just tell me what I’m supposed to want.” My client Andrea shares. “I don’t know how to know what I want. I think I want a relationship but when I get close to someone I get scared and want out! I don’t know – I just don’t know what I want.”

Andrea is a successful Lawyer in New York City. She’s very competent in every aspect of her life, except when it comes to personal relationships. How can that be?

Growing up in a family that looks as normal as any family in her community, Andrea’s grandmother would shame her when she came home with A’s. “What are you, some kind of a smarty-pants?” When Andrea came home with B’s, her grandmother would say “What are you, some kind of an idiot?” Whatever Andrea did she was made to feel guilty or shame for doing what she did and being who she was. Neither her mom nor her dad sheltered her emotionally from the barrage of insults. They each contributed in their own ways to Andrea’s dilemma of not knowing her own thoughts and feelings, wants or needs.

Andrea, like so many of us, gave up her self-respect and dignity for the sake of shelter and food, knowing that someday there would be freedom from all of this.

Enmeshment

Enmeshment is the word used in Marriage and Family Therapy for the process of losing one’s self in support of family culture and for survival. Though I believe that early on, we do know that this doesn’t feel good, after awhile we forget and try to find hope and peace amongst the fragments of life that we’ve come to consider “normal.”

Enmeshment occurs not only in families, but in religions, corporations, and our educational institutions – anywhere and everywhere we are not allowed to know what we want or need, or what we think or feel. It occurs anywhere and everywhere we have to choose to silence our own thinking, our creativity, our sense of integrity and personal accountability. Is there any place that is safe?

This is really important, because it’s not like we can point our fingers at Daddy or Mommy or Grandma, for that matter. Each of us somehow plays a role in wanting people to want what we want, how we want it and when we want it. Any of us in a position of authority has the power to decide how we want others to respond to us. How we be with our authority and how we use our authority is the question at hand. None of us gets immunity for acts of unkindness that in the end burdens others with our unresolved anger, sorrow and fears.

In my studies, at first I was appalled with the concept of enmeshment. It meant that most families were just big balls of emotions, which no one could know about or talk about. But through my experience as a therapist it began to make perfect sense. Now as a transformational coach a great deal of my work is about empowering clients, like Andrea, to realize their own wants and desires and their own thoughts and feelings. What they are finding is that there is freedom that comes with making choices – choices that are in right-relationship with their own truths, not necessarily in alignment with the emotional needs of potential partners, co-workers, friends and most importantly those individuals who have authority over us. Like Andrea, they are learning to create boundaries based on what’s true for them. This can get really squirrelly for a lot of us who can see that maybe we want two opposing things at the same time. And, we want the sense of emotional clarity that comes when we’ve made the “right choice.” Looking to others to tell us if we’ve chosen correctly keeps up using childhood ways that really don’t work in a grown up world. Really – they don’t work!

For Andrea, she wants partnership, romance, security, connection and belonging. She also wants safety, freedom, independence and respect that who she is, is all she needs to be. At 49 years of age, she’s afraid she’ll never get it. My experience tells me that the more clear she becomes with who she is; the more clear she can speak up to those she’d made into authority figures (we do this a lot with our bosses, our partners, even with our children) the more freedom she will experience to create a relationship that includes all the good things that come from being able to speak her truth. We actually create better relationships with people when we can know our thoughts and feelings, know our needs and wants and speak authentically from this place of knowing. Isn’t this what we are all wanting?

It’s a fascinating juxtaposition that boundaries, made by free choice, create freedom. Who would have ever guessed?

As the Paradigm Shifts #M: Money and Mindfulness

by Rosie Kuhn on July 6, 2011

Money

Money is very much a spiritual issue. Some think that the pursuit of wealth couldn’t possibly be a path to enlightenment or spiritual serenity. We never know what our path will look like, what’s in store for us, or where our greatest learning opportunities will lay, awaiting our arrival so they can ambush us when we least expect it.

It’s not money per se but our attitudes and action in relation to money that harm us and others. Fear, not money is the root of all evil, and when we fear that we don’t have enough, who knows what antics our survival mechanism will concoct to give relief from the incessant anxiety of “I NEED MORE!”

It’s okay to want money, to have money and to spend money. All businesses are designed to manufacture or produce goods and services in exchange for currency of one form or another. This is a very good thing. We need this interdependent relationship to thrive. It’s when those “G” words come into play – greed and gain, that a healthy dynamic can turn dysfunctional. This is when abuse of power rears its head and resources such as people, animals and the Earth itself become taxed, stressed and depleted of life force. Work environments lose their soul, and so do those whose lives depend on these environments.

Mindfulness

The balance of wealth and power takes mindfulness. Mindfulness cultivates awareness of how our actions, our thoughts and our being impact the environment within which we live and work. It’s obvious Mother Nature is beginning to demonstrate her lack of appreciation for how she has been ignored, plundered and taken for granted. And because we are all part of this living system I believe that She’s indicating that we as a species, and also, we as individuals, need to become mindful of our relationship with our selves.

I heard the other day that the extraordinary natural disasters that are occurring in this planet are just a causation of the inner turmoil of every living system on the planet. We need to include our businesses, corporations, religious and financial institutions as living systems too. The lack of mindfulness within each system is the responsibility of us all, because all of us participate in the exchange of goods and services and want what we want when we want it. We can’t keep passing the buck onto those who appear to be in charge. We are all in charge and the practice of mindfulness will make that clear.

The Personal is the Political

We have no idea the degree to which our personal power can transform the world. To mindfully engage at work with integrity and a compassionate heart – you will move mountains.

Stress, disease and illness are caused, generally speaking by a lack of mindfulness. Healing brings about wholeness and awareness of the power to which we can shift and change ourselves and our environments  – acting in my highest good is acting in the highest good of everyone.

Mindfulness requires intention to be attentive to what you are committed to – enough that you’re willing to practice bringing awareness and focus to how you be, to what you do, to your thoughts, feelings and body sensations, witnessing it all in service to fulfilling that which you desire. There’s nothing to give up. There is nothing to lose. And, the gain in this circumstance is self-empowerment, self-honoring and the honoring of the sacredness of all that surrounds you.

Mindfulness also keeps us in the moment, present to what is within. We learn to be present and attentive to which impulses we follow – moving us toward fear-based choices or essence-based choices. There is so much more going on than you can imagine. And, it is so accessible.

As I write, I realize that M also stands for meditation. I’m not one to sit cross-legged on a pillow staring at my navel. My form of meditation is practiced throughout the day staying focused and mindful on the agreements I’ve made to myself and to others that are mine to keep. I emphasize, again, the notion of practice as a way to gain mastery, letting go of the idea that perfection will ever be reached.

Enjoy the adventure!

Business, as a context, can look and act as if it could be at the furthest possible reach from spirituality. When I began exploring a career in business coaching I was initially turned off by all of the thoughts, interpretations and judgments I’d been carrying regarding business. Eventually I realized that what’s true about business is based on one’s interpretation – Business is in the eye of the beholder. By shifting my interpretations I was able to allow a greater potentiality for change – well, I’ll go out on a limb and say transformation.

Initially, business meant ruthless, unethical, immoral practices. It meant power hungry individuals sucking the life-blood out of anyone and everything for profit and gain; it meant status, money, dominance; it meant people don’t matter except for what they can do, compensated with the lowest salary possible. Not a pretty picture.

Not every organization looked like this to me but my projections of the worst of the worst were thrusted upon all businesses, which quite often included governments and political organizations.

My original interpretation has shifted from: if it weren’t for Big Businesses our world would be a much better place to live in, to, Big Businesses contribute in incredible ways to social causes and humanitarian efforts. They’ve created miraculous technologies and innovation, which contribute to a much better world. Business is not bad; it’s the practice of bad business that’s challenging all of us today.

There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

Things are not looking up for the world economy and business in general. We, the people, are demanding more of our businesses, whether local, corporate or global, requiring them to be accountable for the practices that on the one hand are literally killing us, while on the other they provide monies that fund projects that generate so much good on the planet. We value the good they are doing but are no longer turning a blind eye to the bad. The old paradigm can no longer sustain the pressure, and to paraphrase Einstein, we won’t be able to fix it with the same thinking that created it.

Inevitably there will be a breakdown, and it won’t be pretty. Heck, we are in the breakdown now, with few brave souls competent enough to take us through this turbulent course, understanding the currents, the rifts and perils of what’s unfolding before us.

Breakdowns are required in the process of all growth and development. Ask anyone who has lost their job, their health, their families, their business or livelihood. They will tell you that tremendous good came out of it. They didn’t ask for it but inevitably were glad it came. These are brave individuals who willingly faced the dismantling of their reality, not knowing if a breakthrough would occur; they only hoped it would occur in their favor.

Breakdowns are messy, full of angst, agony, horror, loss, humiliation, anger and resentment – humanities toughest be-withs. A be-with is something – an event, a circumstance or situation that you can’t control or change; you can only be-with it. A Big Fat Be-With occurs when facing what we’ve been avoiding, denying or distracting ourselves from far too long; there’s nowhere to go and nowhere to hide.

Breakdowns allow for a release of what no longer serves, is completed and finished. What follows is a void of activity, something that drives most of us humans, bonkers. Much like Winter, when things are dark, bleak and cold, we’re powerless to make things be different. We feel helpless and powerless, and often begin to lose hope. All we can do is take leaps of faith, which may mean just staying in this moment until the next moment arrives.

Bleakness is inevitable in any paradigm shift. Even thinking outside the box doesn’t get us out far enough to gain the perspective we need. Sometimes, awareness alone of the Big Fat Be-with is enough, and again the F word – Faith that something will shift.

One very interesting facet of the breakdown process is that blame begins to take center stage. Individuals begin taking inventory for their part in the breakdown – whether personal or organizational. They begin to see how their personal choices impact on the company, the family or community. Blame is a fascinating strategy, which serves our desire to avoid condemnation, rejection, and humiliation. It’s not my fault allows us to ignore my own responsibility and allows me to supposedly get off scot free from any accountability. Over time though, all of us will have to meet ourselves, take inventory and willingly acknowledge our responsibility for things being the way they are. Not one of us is blameless.

Breakthrough

I planted some wisteria seeds a couple of months ago. They’ve undergone a hard transition. I did the best I could to give them an environment rich with nutrients, plenty of water and sunshine. I watch with anticipation for signs of a breakthrough. Little by little their essential nature to burst beyond the hard protection of the seed pod unfolds. Tiny little shoots show themselves. They have endured incredible hazards, not of their own choosing. We rejoice in the breakthrough!

For individuals curious about spirituality in business this inevitable paradigm shift will require of them and their organization to bravely go into these breakdowns in service to what they know to be in service to something greater – a greater good for all.

Each business or business practice has emerged because of a calling a knowing, a vision, a dream: innovation comes out of these dark nights of the soul. Few of us are brave enough to follow our dreams and visions; few are bold enough be a stand for what they believe in.

Being a stand is a phrase used in personal and leadership forums. It means that who you be and how you be is in alignment with what you say is important to you. Though the phrasing sounds incorrect it’s important to understand that who you be and how you be is at the core of every choice you make; it is at the core of every choice your organization makes.

The major dilemma facing every business is the recognition of the humanity running the business. It’s balancing the elements of the people and the bottom line. Are the individuals just a resource, treated as such in service to the product, service and investors, or are people valued for their humanity, for their gifts, for their unique talents and perspective. How does an organization shift the balance? How do they allow a breakdown in service to the breakthrough?

Those of us in support of healthier business models and business practices; what’s our role? How do we empower people to empower themselves and others to facilitate this paradigm shift? It isn’t a maybe; it isn’t a perhaps. As the paradigm shifts we are readying ourselves for a global meltdown. Don’t panic, for it will be an amazing opportunity of greatest magnitude in cultivating awareness and actualization of a more spiritual orientation to every aspect of life.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Rosie Kuhn will be speaking on the topic of “Spiritual Wounding in the Workplace” at the San Francisco New Living Expo, Concourse Exhibition Center, Room #7, San Francisco, April 29th, 2011 at 7:00PM

Worry and Anxiety – Can we really overcome them?

by Vijay Peduru on October 15, 2010

A lot of us are anxious, worried and get depressed most of the time.  A research was done about worries and the following statistic was found

  1. Things that never happen: 40 percent. That is, 40 percent of the things you worry about will never occur anyway.
  2. Things over and past that can’t be changed by all the worry in the world: 30 percent.
  3. Needless worries about our health: 12 percent.
  4. Petty, miscellaneous worries: 10 percent.
  5. Real, legitimate worries: 8 percent. Only 8 percent of your worries are worth concerning yourself about.

If we look at this statistic, the majority of our worries i,e 92% do not happen and yet we are worried and this worry leads us  to all sorts of  problems including relationship problems and health problems.  Let Mr. Worry be around you a while and you invite a new guest in your life, called anxiety!

If we analyze worries deeply, it is nothing but our stories about a future situation. If the future situation seems unfavorable, worry sets in, you let the story fester for a while, the worry becomes anxiety. On the other hand, if the future situation seems favorable, we feel better and more positive emotions (such as anticipation, excitement etc) set in. Take, for example, the feeling when you are planning to go on vacation, you feel great. Why? Because the future situation is fun. At the end of the vacation you feel depressed. Why? Because you have to return to work you don’t like.

So, how can we overcome worries and anxiety? Here are 2 quick ways:

  1. Realize that all our worries are invented by us by thinking that a bad future situation will occur in the future. Remember, these are just stories, they have not yet actually happened… and probably never will.
  2. Invent a good future situation by deliberately thinking about the good things which will happen in the future.

Now, think of that next presentation that you have to deliver to the management team… or that public speaking event that has your nerves a bit unsettled… or that next important meeting that has you chewing your nails… all these need not be a source of worry! You just have to first notice the story around the worry… and then change it in your favor!

Good luck!