5 Questions to Get Out of Anxiety

As a coach, one of my jobs is to help people get unstuck. Part of getting unstuck is understanding the emotions that we ultimately don’t want to feel, or the states that we don’t want to feel. I’ve never met a person who asked me to become more anxious or “man I would really love to amp up my frustration”. I’ve never met a person that was looking for that. I have met tons of people who get caught in these patterns of anxiety, depression, frustration, whatever it is. There’s five questions that I ask whenever someone is experiencing an emotion that they don’t want to experience, and they’re experiencing it regularly.

The first thing that I want them to understand is that emotions are not like colds, it’s not something you catch, it’s something you produce. If we think of anxiety, for example, anxiety isn’t like COVID. You don’t shake hands with somebody with anxiety, and all of a sudden you have it. Anxiety is something that you produce. Now, if you’re regularly experiencing anxiety, and depression, frustration, whatever emotion it is that you don’t want to feel, then I’ve found that these five questions can ultimately create an action plan in order to move you from where you are to what you ultimately want to experience or feel.

  1. What is it that you’re doing that you know, you shouldn’t be?
  2. What is it that you’re not doing that you know you should be? I’ll never forget when the pandemic hit I asked one client of mine that question, and he said two things. “I’m watching too much news and drinking too much booze.” I thought, man, that’s an easy action plan just stop doing that and I imagine your and your anxiety will dissipate.
  3. What is the minor that I am majoring in? What’s the molehill I’m making into a mountain? Oftentimes, we perceive things as an imminent threat as if it’s a threat to our own well being or our own survival, and it’s not. If you were to shift gears and move into the future, is this something that that will even bother me three months, five months, a year down the road? Will I even remember this?
  4. What is it that I am preaching that I’m not practicing? If you’re out there in the world, sharing advice with people that you’re not following, for most, that drives a deep, deep feeling of inauthenticity, and that can manifest itself into anxiety.
  5. What is the uncontrollable I’m seeking to control? This is the big one! This is the one that I think for most people, if they unequivocally understood this question, it would shift them out of the emotions that they are experiencing that they don’t want. If you’ve ever watched a basketball game, and the ball goes out of bounds, the game stops. And yet, if you’ve ever seen a little kid, that maybe they didn’t understand the game, and the ball goes out of bounds, they’re still standing there guarding the other kids because they don’t understand that the ball is out of bounds and the game has stopped. For many of you, you’re like that little kid standing there guarding people as if the ball was still in play. The second something leaves your boundary of control, the game stops. If you recognize that your life would get marginally better.

If you’ll ask those five questions and document your answers, I’ll bet you you’ll create a game plan for getting yourself out of anxiety and into whatever emotion you want to experience.