Since I posted on anxiety last week, I’ve been talking to people about how they manage their own anxiety. Interestingly, my sister-in-law Janelle, who hadn’t read the post, told me about an anxiety practice she created out of some of the tools in the book. Cool!
Janelle is an in-home health practitioner who works with elderly and disabled clients, and she often feels worried about them (as you can imagine!). Janelle created a way to question her anxieties as she grounds herself. It’s a perfect solution, because anxieties (and all fears) want you to ask questions, figure things out, and take action.
I asked Janelle to write out the situation and her practice so you’d get a feel for it.
Janelle’s Conscious Questioning
I am Health Care Practitioner who visits clients in their homes. Many of my clients are low income and elderly or disabled in some way. I am referred in by a case manager because a client has symptoms like pain, anxiety, depression, or they are in need of some social contact or reassurance. I go in and gently massage painful areas, listen to their stories, or record their Oral Histories. Many of these people have not been touched in years.
Just today I had a new visit with an elder who had immigrated to the U.S. during a violent upheaval in her home country. If you were to peek in on the visit, it wouldn’t look too strenuous: I soaked her feet and hands with warm water and lemon bath oil and gently massaged her. Since she didn’t speak English, her son gave me her physical and emotional history, which included having to watch her husband starve to death. Many of my clients’ stories are deeply harrowing.
Sometimes I feel some discomfort after a visit, when I am in the car on my way to my next client. What I feel, while in the visit, is that I am soaking up some of my client’s story and that I may carry some of their story home with me. I often need to take care of myself and empty out after the visit.
I can sometimes leave a visit with a sense of anxiety, pressure in my body, sadness and/or a feeling of being stuck. I listen to The Language of Emotions in my car, and after hearing about Conscious Complaining, I created another version of the practice called Conscious Questioning.
In this practice, I ground, even if I’m in the car and going 60 mph, and consciously ask myself questions. As soon as I feel discomfort in my body, pressure in my chest, anxiety, or sadness, I will ask myself out-loud:
What is it that I am feeling?
Why am I feeling it?
Is there something I need to feel?
Is there someone I need to report to?
Is this feeling about me or about the client?
What triggered the feeling?
Then I answer myself out loud, listening to the wisdom from within. I feel it, name the emotion, come into relationship with it, and take needed action. I do this consciously and out loud [Karla's note: Which is the genius part, since most of us cycle silently and semi-consciously with anxiety and only end up making ourselves feel miserable]. I ground myself and ask the questions, get some answers, and send all the discomfort down through my grounding practice.
I have had people honk their horns and point their fingers at me thinking that I was talking on a hands-free call in my car. I smile at them. For all they know I could be singing along with my favorite Pandora tune. I can re-energize in this way between my clients, stay present, and feel happy.
AND I come home way less tired from my day. It really works! Thank you, feelings and emotions!
Nicely done, Janelle! Thank you for bringing us wisdom from the areas of anxiety and concern, and for giving us a simple and effective practice we can all do (though I’m thinking that we should move our heads rhythmically if we do it in the car, so people won’t think we’re on our cellphones)!
A possible further help for situations like this could also be Burning Contracts, if you find yourself getting into an uncomfortable relationship with a client or co-worker. The excellent thing about doing your emotion work is that you can actually make changes in your behavior, in your outlook, in your tension levels, and in the tenor of your relationships. Huzzah! Emotions rock! (if you know how to work with them)