This episode follows Chapter 3, Section 1: “Activate Your Power” of Anxiety… I’m So Done with You! But first, how are you doing? Are you ready for Chapter 3? Chapter 3 goes along with Step 3 in the five steps to curing anxiety. This step is about cultivating your control. You’ll learn how you DO have control, and you’ve always had control by being re-introduced to your personal agency. In this episode, you’ll learn
- Three steps to take when things go wrong, and
- The key to activating the power and control you have
Humans are built for action. Action is vital to well-being, but it’s not about workaholism or needing to be productive to know you are worthy, but about goals towards things you desire, like, closeness in relationships, meeting goals, joy, and pleasure…all things that anxiety likes to take from you.
There are three steps I encourage you to take when you experience difficulty. Step one, have compassion; step two, take a mental step back; and step three, decide what to do. Do they seem hard to envision? Don’t worry; that’s what this episode is about. I’ll define and discuss each one. And then, you’ll learn to respond from a place of power.
“We should have been taught self-compassion in middle school because it would save us so much negative self-judgment and the suffering that comes with that negative self-judgment that we do. Maybe you are in middle school and listening to this. I hope so. I’m so glad for you because practicing and knowing how to deliver self-compassion to yourself will save you so much.” – Dr. Jodi Aman
Listen to Activate Your Power.
Resources for this Episode
- Nikki Sanchez’s TEDx talk called, “Decolonization is for Everyone.”
- Practice Self Compassion
- Ep. 3:5 Activate Confidence “Anxiety…I’m So Done with You!” Teen Podcast
- Embrace Making Meaning in Ways that Empower You
- Why Forgiveness is Not As Hard As You Think But Oh So Powerful
- Activate your Unique Skills Ep. 3:7
- Improve Your Mental Resilience In Four Steps
- Build Self Confidence and Create Happiness With this One Practice
- Setting Awesome Personal Boundaries:
@doctorjodi Setitng awesome personal boundaries. #sayno #youmatter #therapistontiktok #anxietyrelief #anxietypodcast #boundaries ♬ You Are Loved Mantra
Listen to Activate Your Power on YouTube.
Transcription of Activate Your Power
Hey, you’re here with Dr. Jodi, and this is Season 3 of “Anxiety… I’m so Done with You!” This podcast is a teen and young adult guide to ditching toxic stress and hardwiring your brain for happiness. If you’re new here, grab a copy of my book “Anxiety… I’m so Done with You!” because this series goes section by section through the book, going a little bit deeper, giving more examples, and telling more stories. Season 3, which goes along with Chapter 3, is expanding hope by looking at your skills and abilities.
Welcome to Ep 3-1 Activate Your Power
This episode will be about Section 1, Activate Your Power. During our time here today, I’ll
- check-in with how you’re doing
- introduce to you Chapter 3
- define what I mean by “activate”
- discuss personal agency
- review self-compassion
- share with you the three steps that you should take when anything goes wrong
Overall, I’ll teach you how to activate the power and control that you do have.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of all these things, how are you doing? I’m so glad you’re sticking with me in this process because it will be worth it. Think about how much anxiety you had when you started this journey. Imagine that as 100%. Think about what percent it is now. What percent of the anxiety is left?
If you are merely just now starting to feel a bit better, it’s okay. We’re not going to leave you here. You will keep going through this process until you feel better all the way. It’s even okay if your anxiety backslides and it terrorizes you again one night or one day. That doesn’t mean you’re regressing. That was just the perfect storm context of that moment. Or it was an intense experience that you had. How you make meaning around that experience will help you get back on track with your recovery or have you feeling horrible for a while.
If you have an episode of bad anxiety again now, you know what to do. First, you look for a reason. And I only say that now because you know you must keep it simple. It might be because you’re tired, hungry, or fighting off a virus. Or, perhaps, there’s an old trigger that came up or an old familiar feeling that maybe you’re getting anxious, and that was the trigger. Allow that straightforward reason to satisfy your curiosity about why this is happening. It is usually that simple.
And then, second, say, “Okay, that’s just the adrenaline. I get why it went off because of this (whatever you figured out). Thanks, amygdala! If I needed you, that would be great, but I don’t need you right now. I am safe.”
And then, third, take action that will engage your mind-space until the anxiety disappears.
This is what you don’t want to do when you have intense anxiety again. Don’t say, “Oh no! It’s here again! I hate this feeling! I hate it! Oh no! Oh no! I can’t do this! I hate it!” because that feeds the anxiety! Instead, I wish you would celebrate your wins. If the anxiety is down 20% or 30%, think about if you would have imagined it being down that much a month ago! You might have been happy with 5%, then!
80/20 to 90/10 to 100/0
Listen, if it’s 80% better and you are upset about the last 20% because you don’t want ANY OF IT to be around, that lamenting is keeping that 20%. With myself and my clients, I found that celebrating that 80% had more impact on it continuing to go down. However, when you lament the 20%, it makes it worse. You see, when you’re still upset about that 20%, you’re bothered by the anxiety. That feeds it.
I know you don’t want any anxiety at all. I promise I will get you there. However, if you say, “I can do this! It’s down 80%, which feels so much better! I am amazing for getting it down 80%!This anxiety will be fine even if it stayed at 20%! I don’t have to be afraid of it because I can handle it.” If you do that, the anxiety has no power over you and goes down even more.
Enter Chapter 3. Welcome! Welcome to Chapter 3. You might have had other people or therapists help you with anxiety, and they might have given you coping skills to decrease anxiety when it comes. I’ve already told you this, but my method is different. I help you reduce anxiety’s power in the first place. In Chapter 1, we exposed anxiety by learning where it comes from. In Chapter 2, we deconstructed it further by calling out its tricks and tactics, AKA learning the lies that it tells.
And now, in Chapter 3, we are getting to your skills and knowledges. I already know that you have skills. I know because you were not born yesterday. You couldn’t have gotten to the age you are if you had no life skills, coping skills, adapting, or survival skills. Even if you’ve never gone through anything hard in your life, which I highly doubt, you would have needed some skills. So, there, you have them. Plus, you have those innate abilities from your brain, having evolved for millions of years. Therefore, the idea of me thinking that I could teach you coping skills is ridiculous! You already have excellent skills.
However, anxiety has gotten in the way of you seeing them, and so has blocked your access to them. Now that we’ve taken anxiety down a few notches, I can reintroduce you to your skills which will open access to them again. And as you use them, they’ll develop, leading you to have more and more skills in your personal toolbox.
Chapter 3 goes along with step 3 in the five steps to curing anxiety. You have heard me refer to step 3 as “Cultivate your control.” Cultivate means to acquire or develop. You have always had control, but we are acquiring or re-acquiring your sense of control. We are getting the knowledge that you have control back online. For the section headings of Chapter 3, I use the word “activate,” which I like because it illustrates the concept of cultivating and also it takes it a step further into action. Action is so essential to emotional well-being. It is the opposite of stagnation which decompensates people really fast.
Activate Your Power
There’s a quotation that I like that illustrates this: “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” I originally heard this quotation like this: “A ship in the harbor is safe, but if it stays too long, the bottom rots out.” Humans are built for action. This doesn’t mean “be a workaholic” or “you’re only worthy if you’re productive.” Those are maladaptive discourses from Western culture. Action can be about productivity and being goal-oriented toward the things that you deeply desire. It could be about closeness and intimacy in relationships. It can be about making the world a better place, and also it can be about pleasure, joy, relaxation, and fun!
What we’re talking about today––and really this whole book––comes from a Western cultural perspective. I’m not promoting or defending Western culture because most of it sucks from a social, emotional, and mental standpoint. It’s just that many of the contexts and problems I speak about come from this culture and its history. Plus, I have this Western cultural perspective because I grew up here, and I’ve seen the first-hand devastating effects of this individualism on people and families. Colonization is a trauma for the colonized and the colonizers. If you’re curious about this, watch Nikki Sanchez’s TEDx talk called, “Decolonization is for Everyone.”
Why this is important
Also, discrimination causes mental health problems for the discriminators and the discriminated. While the trauma experience is, of course, worse for people with marginalized identities. For the people with privileged identities, that grabbing and inability to maintain pseudo-power messes with the mind. Therefore, working towards an anti-oppressive society is better for everybody. If you haven’t heard the term marginalized identities, these are people and peoples who’ve been structurally and individually discriminated against, like Indigenous people, Black and Brown bodies, people with disabilities, women, and people who identify asLGBTQ+. Western culture does have some good things, though. The freedom of Western society is good. Even though it’s often socially and structurally withheld from some people and can be weaponized, we generally have freedom of our actions. This is called personal agency, which is the power to respond to how we want to react to the world.
As I mentioned, our freedom is not perfect, and we have some work to do. But we have freedom compared to 70% of the world’s population in 2022, who still live under an authoritarian government. Compared to that, we have freedom. Chapter 3 tells you how to harness, cultivate, and activate it. In Section 1, the section that you read for this episode, we discuss activating your power, and I introduce you to your personal agency. That means you’re an agent of your life, just like a music agent gets the band gigs and ensures they have everything they need.
You’re an agent of yourself:
- opening doors,
- building relationships,
- honing skills,
- making meaning,
- clearing negative energy, and
- fulfilling your needs.
Things happen to you that are out of your control, and of course, they affect you deeply, but after they happen, you get to decide how to think about it, how to think about yourself, what it means, and how to act going forward. These things are 100% in your control. And they make or break your life. They affect your recovery, relationships, opportunities, mood, and view of yourself much more than what happened to you. Depending on how you respond, you can blow up and increase your suffering or process and heal yourself. You deserve to heal yourself.
In this section’s “What’s in your hand?” activity, I share my three steps to take when you experience difficulty. I recommend these three steps no matter what is happening. And I want you to take these three steps in this exact order. (Which is more meaningful since I’m so not a linear person––I can never even follow a recipe without making adjustments!) But, as you’ll see, the sequence has a lot of flexibility, even though I’m rigid about the order.
What To Do With Facing a Difficult Situation
Step 1: Have compassion for yourself
Step 2: Take a mental step back
Step 3: Decide what to do
Let’s go through that first, self-compassion. Self-compassion and compassion for others are how we heal. Remember, all hurt is from people being invalidated or devalued. All pain, frustration, fear, and hurt are from something precious to you being lost or threatened. That emotional pain signifies the devaluing of that thing that you hold precious. Sometimes that thing could be you, sometimes it’s another person, an object, or a concept, such as respect or innocence, or it also could be an opportunity. You get what I mean. It’s something that is precious to you.
When you understand hurt as a devaluing of that, then you can understand the importance of compassion. Compassion is a revaluing of what is precious. Even in understanding and recognizing the value, you’re revaluing it. When you say, “I get it. I get why I feel that way,” it is a recognition of the importance of what is precious.
For example, “I understand why that loss hurt me. It makes sense that relationship was really important to me, and that person was special to me.”
That’s all that you have to do. That’s all compassion is. It’s an acceptance or validation of your feelings. We should be taught self-compassion in middle school because it would save us so much negative self-judgment and the suffering that comes with it. (Maybe you are in middle school now and listening to this! I hope so! I’m happy for you because practicing and knowing how to deliver self-compassion will save you so many yucky times!)
This is how you do it: No matter what you feel, say, “I get it. I get why I feel this way.” Give care to your feelings. There’s a gesture that I taught myself when I was going through a tough time: I kiss my hand on my forefinger, and then I touch my heart with it. I kept thinking of hurt feelings once, even though I wanted to stop thinking of them. I just kept thinking about them. Instead of berating myself for thinking about them, I decided to kiss my hand, touch my heart, and say, “I get it. I understand why that hurt.”
Did you ever have a conflict or a fight with someone and then replay it repeatedly in your mind? And then, you try to let it go, but it comes back? And then, you worry, “Oh, I can’t believe it came back! I thought I had let it go! What is going on?” That worry makes you more upset, and that upset-ness is attaching you to the negative feelings because you’re invalidating them. You were already invalidated by what hurt you, and now you’re invalidating your feelings about it. It provokes part of you to keep defending those feelings. That defense keeps them there. They keep you fighting with yourself.
But if you, instead, had self-compassion, saying to yourself, “I get it. I get why it hurts me. That makes sense. It came back. I knew you’d come back. Just have a seat.” Remember that? It coming back is just what the human mind does. If you want to let something go, and then it comes back, throw some compassion at it. This doesn’t mean that you stay with compassion for a while. You don’t think, “Oh, I will give myself compassion…Just a lot of compassion…I’ll give it compassion!” That attaches to it too. Rather, you want to “throw” compassion at it. Just kiss your hand, touch your heart, and be like, “I get it. I get why I feel this way.” Then move on.
“Give Yourself Compassion and Move On”
Give yourself some validation so you don’t attach to it, and then do Step 2: Take a mental step back. This is also called zooming out or being above the battlefield. It’s looking at a situation from a big-picture view or outside the chaos of it. This is too hard to do when you’re still invalidated. But once you have compassion for yourself, you can zoom out. You might still feel bad, but the compassion will settle you enough to be able to zoom out. From this zoomed-out perspective, you get a new understanding of yourself. You get a sense of the context and also of all of the other players. You get perspective on why they are doing what they’re doing, or why they did what they did. Your understanding of those things helps you take it less personally.
Do you know how sometimes you get hurt and you go to a friend and tell them about it, and with good intentions, they say, “Oh, you can’t take that personally!” but you just wanted them to listen and understand? When you think about it, their advice is not bad advice. It’s just the timing of it makes it feel critical. It feels like you’re handling it wrong or shouldn’t feel bad about it. Not taking it personally is good advice, but it’s too early. The validation has to come first so you can detach. You can get that validation from others or yourself. I recommend both because humans are social beings. When there’s no one else around, self-compassion works magic.
According to the psychiatrist and author Russell Meares, the ability to zoom out is an advanced stage of mature consciousness and memory. It immediately regulates your neurobiology, decreasing any intense emotions. I also call this a witnessing state. In therapy, I use questioning to help invite people to this witnessing state. It keeps people from panicking (emotional dysregulation) when they’re with me. Luckily, there’s no risk to practicing it, so practice away! From that distant position, you can discern, understand, and then, in Step 3, decide what you want to do next.
From this distant perspective, or above the battlefield, you are in a power role instead of a victim one. You’re not reacting to what happened. Instead, you’re responding from a rooted conscious place. As you can imagine, this will give you the best outcomes, not only for the situation but for what you carry forward from the situation. What do you think? Try it with something minor that’s going on in your life. Feel into it, and see how it changes your perspective and feelings. Reflect: What would it do to your emotions to have compassion for yourself? And take a step back? How do you imagine it would affect your view of yourself? How do you think it would affect your anxiety and depression?
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of “Anxiety… I’m so Done with You!” with me, Dr. Jodi. In this episode, I:
- introduced you to chapter three,
- talked about personal agency, self-compassion, taking a mental step back, and responding from rooted consciousness
I appreciate you for all the shares, likes, and comments. All of your interactions grow the influence that I can make with this series.