A Creative Way to Manage Anxiety

by Yafa Crane Luria

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat are you afraid of? Growing old? Failing at your work or at school? Dying alone? Never finding true love? Public Speaking? Raising your teen? Whatever your fear, this exercise will release some of the load (keep doing it for more release) and reveal some stunning insights. You are going to write out a conversation with the person you fear. (Don’t worry, that person doesn’t need to be in the room with you; in fact, he/she doesn’t even need to be alive anymore!) ***If you’re afraid of a situation, you’ll converse with yourself.

Here’s how it works:

With your dominant hand (if you’re right-handed, that’s your dominant hand) start the conversation, and with your non-dominant hand (the other one!) answer as the person you fear/the part of you that you’re afraid of/the situation.  You don’t have to think of the answers ahead of time – it’s not a THINKING exercise, so don’t worry about “getting it right.” Just observe what comes out in your writing.

Here’s an example written by a parent who I was coaching:

P=Parent (dominant hand); T=Teen (non-dominant hand)

P=I’m afraid when you swear at me.  I never thought my child would say such malicious things to me.
T=It scares me too.
P=Why does it scare you?
T=I feel possessed.
P=What does that feel like?
T=I have too many feelings and I don’t know what to do with all of them.  It feels like I’m being swallowed up.
P=Do you feel like you’re losing yourself?
T=Yes.
P=Is the person who is swearing at me the REAL YOU or the YOU WHO IS OVERWHELMED?
T=The second one.  I just get really angry and scared.
P=What are you scared of?
T=Not being popular.
P=Are people being mean to you?
T=No.
P=What can I do to help you?
T=I don’t know.  Can you just keep being my mom even when I’m a b*tch?
P=Yes, of course.  I love you!  Does it help for me to do this writing?
T=I guess.
P=Do you mind if I continue writing?
T=No.
P=Just so I understand, you’re saying that when you swear at me it has nothing to do with me?  You’re just scared and angry?
T=Yes.
P=And all you need me to do is keep loving you?  Is that enough?
T=Yes, for now it’s enough.
P=Well, this is a relief!  Thank you for talking to me.  And I do love you!
T=OK, thanks mom.

Interesting, yes? What’s even more interesting to me is that, as far as I know, this mom never shared this conversation with her daughter! It’s wasn’t really her daughter responding, and yet, their relationship changed dramatically jsut from doing this exercise. The daughter didn’t stop swearing, at first, but the mom stopped taking it personally which was what was stressing her out the most – that her daughter might really dislike her. Once the mom’s behavior changed, so did the daughter’s. (Note: there were two behaviors the mom changed – she stopped taking the swearing personally, and she did more conscious thinking about how much she loved her daughter. She replaced one behavior with another.)

Here’s another one from a former client

Here’s one from Shira, a 40-something business owner/client who was so afraid that she might have ADD that she didn’t want to find out. Her fear was stuck in her head and it was immobilizing her. In this case, her dominant (right) hand was fearful Shira who stated she was afraid, and her non-dominant hand (left) was sort of like her inner wisdom. You will be able to hear the difference quite clearly:

Right (Fearful) : I’m afraid that I might have ADD
Left (Wise) : Why would that frighten you?
R: Well, what do I have to do if I have ADD? My life is already so full that I’m overwhelmed. Now I’ll have to do a lot of new activities just to manage my ADD.
L: Did someone tell you that?
R: No. But if I have ADD then I probably have to do everything differently and that will take time to learn.
L: Did someone tell you that?
R: No. It’s an assumption. It’s a fear.
L: Is this fear based in reality?
R: Not as far as I know. It may be based in reality. I don’t know.
L: How can you find out?
R: I can call someone.
L: Yes. Do you know whom to call?
R: Yes.
L : Do you feel better now?
R: Yes, mostly. At least I don’t have to panic right now.
L: This is true. And it may turn out that getting a diagnosis makes life easier for you.
R: Yeah I was just thinking that.
L: Do you have any other fears to talk about right now?
R: No not right now.
L: When will you contact this person?
R: Right now. Thank you.

Here’s one from me in 2017, as I update this post:

Dominant Right Hand asks: Why do I keep getting sick when I’m doing so much to take care of myself?
Answering with the Left Hand: These are simply course corrections on your way to complete wellness.
R: I don’t like it!
L: Yes, that’s true.
R: That’s it? That’s all you have to say?
L: You would like to attach a deeper meaning to this but there isn’t one. Change is never a straight line.
R: Sigh.
L: You ARE improving though. Look at how much you are able to do that you couldn’t do last year. A year from now, you’ll be conquering new heights. And you may forget where you were this year when you look back, just as you’re forgetting last year.
R: What will I be able to do next year?
L: That’s up to you. You choose every day where you want to be in a year. Sometimes you choose PIZZA and sometimes you choose YOGA.
R: Hahaha, that’s true
L: You have a goal, your sights are set, and you have the help you need. You’ve done everything.
R: I’m not hiding? I don’t want to hide. I don’t want to be in denial.
L: You’re not in denial, and you have a group of people who will call you on it if you start hiding.
R: So there’s nothing to worry about? That would be a first!
L: Nothing to worry about.
R: Cool thanks.

This isn’t voodoo

Here’s the thing: it’s not voodoo or anything like that. I’m sure that, with my ADD Brain, this idea was somewhere in my head, but my fear and not wanting to look at the issue too closely makes it impossible to access the information. It’s just a way to isolate and access the most important ideas pertaining to the issue at hand. Normally when I talk about my health, I think back to when I was super active, hiking and biking almost every day. Then I look at now, and feel sad. That’s not a solution, whereas, here my brain came up with a solution for me that fits me because it IS ME!

Your conversation will be uniquely yours; you don’t need to worry about what it looks like, are you doing it “right,” or whether it will work. It works if you do it! And you can write for as long as you want, as often as you want.

Is this something you’d ever do? Why or why not? What about showing your teen how to do it. It’s incredibly effective with people who have trouble expressing feelings. Scroll down to comment.

xo, Yafa

Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherrie Bensaid April 14, 2010 at

Thank you for your vulnerability. I have a lot of fear and anxiety in myself right now and sometimes when it gets over the top, and I become imobilized, I don’t know what to do. I’ve heard positive self talk can help, but it is hard to do when your having an anxiety attack. I like the tactile aspect of this. It gives you something to phyisically do which facilitates the calming self talk. They say listen to your inner voice, but when you feel ready to crawl out of your skin, it’s really hard to hear what that inner voice is saying. This gives that inner voice a platform to be heard. Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. I’m going to try this.

Sherrie

Reply

Margit Crane April 14, 2010 at

Thanks Sherrie! Great point about anxiety being louder than the inner voice and writing being a tactile, physical release!!

I hope you’ll feel free to share your results, either here or via email: Margit@MyADDBrain.com

Peace!

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