“First off, I just wanted to let you know that you’ve helped me so much with anxiety in the past. I almost never have any anxious feelings or symptoms anymore, and when I do feel them arise, I always know how to handle it. So thank you so much. You changed my life.
Lately though, I’ve been feeling rather anxious about a job interview I have coming up. I’ve been preparing for it, but my heart races just thinking about it. I really want the job I’m interviewing for, but I’m nervous I’ll panic during the interview, since I’m already feeling this anxious. Do you have any tips for staying calm during interviews? I can’t really distract myself from this one. I know mindset is important, but I don’t know how to boost my confidence for the interview.
I’ve googled tips, but I just appreciate and value your advice so much, so I’m hoping you’ll help.”
Be present. “Witness” your thoughts and emotions. Grief, anger, fear… whatever it is, just watch. This brings light (awareness) to everything and stops you becoming it.
Remove attention to get relief from the feeling of loss. Focus completely on whatever you’re currently doing. Lose yourself in a movie or book.
Be okay with feeling okay. Don’t feel guilty about feeling better or having periods of “normality” while grieving. It doesn’t mean you didn’t love the person. It just means you’re choosing the focus of your attention.
Minimize thinking. Now is not a good time for active thinking. Give yourself the time and space to let everything settle down. Delay important decisions until you’re feeling better.
Help others with their grief. Being a rock for them means staying alert and present. In that state, you are much less likely to get lost in emotion yourself. Be spacious and loving and you will find your own grief easier to bear.
Appreciate your time together. If you’d like to think about the person, focus on their life and the relationship you enjoyed with them. They wouldn’t want you to be sad.
Take care of yourself. It’s easy to get into unhealthy habits during a period of mourning. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle as much as you can.
Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.
In our natural environment we faced real dangers, such as lions. The instinct to harm here is obvious — part of the “fight or flight” response. You either fight the danger or run away.
In our modern environment, we can still very easily feel stressed and “under attack,” even if it’s not in the literal sense of the word. And so, when this primitive mechanism is triggered, suddenly you have these thoughts, or instincts, to harm someone — even someone you love.
“What are your thoughts on trauma release exercises (TRE)? Have you done them? Apparently our bodies hold trauma even from years ago, which puts a person in a constant flight/fight/freeze state, always very alert and sensing ‘danger.’ With TRE the body releases the energy held up in it from trauma. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.”
I haven’t done any of those exercises myself, but I’ve heard a few health teachers talk highly of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), tapping certain points on the body to release old emotional stuff.
Traumatic events can certainly have powerful spin offs and we hold the sense of danger to prevent repeats, quite naturally. I do think there is great value in thinking about what you fear in a way that allows you to really let it go, to see it has no value to keep looking for it.
In other words, use intelligence to trump the lizard brain. These mechanisms are good for preventing say repeat lion attacks, back when our ancestors evolved in nature, but the same mechanisms can be dysfunctional in modern life.
“I am a music lover. I was curious if you think it is acceptable to have instrumental music playing in the background while meditating.
I find listening to world music such as Indian relaxation music and things of that sort tend to relax me. Should I meditate only in silence, or can I have instrumental as well?”
Listening to music is certainly an enjoyable, relaxing thing to do. People use it a lot to shut the mind up — it works. But it’s not so effective at generating awareness, which is what meditation is all about.
We want to be noticing thoughts pop, and have our attention in the space that thoughts happen. That is what calms the mind over time, and allows us to think on purpose again.
“I see a long future with my boyfriend. I want to marry this man, but then I get these unwanted thoughts saying you don’t love him blah blah, then boom — instant anxiety and I feel sick and nauseous.
I don’t understand what’s happening. It’s breaking my heart because I don’t ever want to leave him or him leave me because it would be awful! I just want to be happy.
It comes out of nowhere like I’ll be having a great time and then bam, these little thoughts pop up and it’s killing me inside. I’m crying writing this and want these terrible thoughts to go away. I HATE THEM!
He’s the best man I’ve ever had and don’t want to lose him. I’m so scared of these thoughts. Now they’re constant. I have no idea why they started but the thought of losing him and not having him with me or by my side through life shatters me. I want them to go away so badly.”
You cannot tell your mind not to think about something. If I tell you not to think of a pink elephant, it’s the first thing that pops into your mind. :-)
So something either has your attention or it doesn’t. If you don’t want a thought/idea to be part of your world, the only way to achieve that is by ignoring it / not caring about it.
This is what communicates to your mind that the thought is unimportant, irrelevant and meaningless.
HATE and FEAR are the opposite of not caring / ignoring.
By reacting to these thoughts with these emotions you are sending a very clear message to your mind that they are important, relevant and meaningful. That’s why they keep popping up more frequently, and with more intensity.
It’s your reaction to these ideas that’s key. It’s the equivalent of encountering a lion and then wondering why thoughts about the scary lion encounter keep popping into your head.
“Is it the subconscious/unconscious mind that generates thoughts, which are then popped into our conscious mind for us to become aware of? Just want to fully understand how the mind works.”
Your conscious mind is like a fairly narrow spotlight. It’s bright and clear but can pretty much only focus on one thing at a time. As you use this “spotlight,” you’re feeding that information to your subconscious mind, all the time.