Doctor Neha: Welcome to Talk Rx with Doctor Neha. Today, I am here with Angela. We’re filming in New Zealand at World Women 17, which is about bringing women together, connecting us, and empowering us to the next level of who we are. Tell me, Angela. What is it that would bring you to the next level of who you are, and what communication question do you have?
Angela: Thanks, Doctor Neha, for having me. Having experienced the Canterbury earthquake, having lost a business in that earthquake, my question is now that I’ve relaunched a new business, how do I know when it’s time to overcome anxiety and let it go?
Doctor Neha: Anxiety is a big concern. Right now, you have a traumatic event, the earthquake and you lost your business. Does that trauma ever get reactivated? Do you ever notice?
Doctor Neha: What types of situations would reactivate it?
Angela: For example, today, being in this building, this building moves quite a lot.
Doctor Neha: So feeling that motion?
Doctor Neha: So you know where you get triggered. Tell me what anxiety feels like in your body.
Angela: My eyes go numb and quite cold, and sometimes my cheeks even go numb.
Doctor Neha: Wow. All right. Do you ever feel your heart racing? Do you ever feel tightness or shortness of breath?.
Angela: Yes, I feel that as well.
Doctor Neha: When that happens, tell me what you do next.
Angela: Well, it actually stays for pretty much most of the day. The best thing for it is to sleep, and then I get up in the morning and it’s gone.
Doctor Neha: So your strategy is this: If I go to sleep and allow myself to surrender to my subconscious, unconscious world, then when I wake up, it’ll be gone.
Angela: That’s exactly it.
Doctor Neha: Okay, let’s talk about anxiety. Anxiety—I call it a failed attempt to control the future. What thoughts are running in your head when you notice that you’re anxious? What do you say?
Angela: That you’re not in control.
Doctor Neha: Oh, that I’m not in control. What else? Do you ever think, what if it happens again? What will I do? Does any of that come?
Angela: What happens if it gets worse? Because you can’t control it.
Doctor Neha: In that experience, tell me what happened after you lost your business and the earthquake came. What did you do next?
Angela: We moved to Auckland. We were really fortunate that we’d sold our home in Auckland to move to Christchurch for our business. The person we sold our old house to happened to have it for sale. I phoned him and said, “John, is there any chance we could rent the house from you?” He said, “Well, actually, I’m moving out next week. You can.”
Doctor Neha: Wow.
Angela: That house is a really, really safe place. We have a long driveway. We’ve got a pool. It was like our little sanctuary had come back to us. We then took six months off. Gary and I didn’t work, and we had an amazing healing time.
Doctor Neha: Wow. What actually happened was that in this traumatic event, you trusted yourself. You asked the questions. You asked for help. The universe gave it to you, and you had this healing time together. In the end, this traumatic event actually brought you this change and healing.
Doctor Neha: In anxiety, what’s important about it is it’s an attempt to protect yourself from something that might happen again. But the truth is that when trauma happened, you figured out what to do next. The way you did that was through self-trust. So anxiety is a fear-based emotion: What if, what if, what if? That’s why I say it’s a failed attempt to control the future. Can you control the future?
Doctor Neha: Can you guarantee that another earthquake will not come?
Doctor Neha: Can you guarantee that no misfortune will befall you again?
Doctor Neha: How about if instead you shift into this place that knowing that if something happens, you can say, “I trust myself that I’ll figure out what to do next”?
Angela: You’re right.
Doctor Neha: It sounds like you have an amazing partner too.
Angela: Yes, we have an incredible life together.
Doctor Neha: What if the mantra became, “I trust myself, and I trust that I can handle what comes next. And I trust that I can ask for help and support, and I’ll get it”?
Angela: You’re right. It’s like having this time with you today. If you ask people for help, you get it.
Doctor Neha: In chapter 15 of my book TalkRx, the chapter is on anxiety, and it’s called “The Sky is Not Falling.” It will give you steps that when you feel anxious, you can actually pay attention to what’s happening in your body, soft belly breathe, allow yourself to relax. Then you can address those thoughts and flip them around, so you empower yourself. I’m going to ask you the question at the end of that chapter, “When you have anxiety, if you asked yourself what would trust and courage do now, would that give you your next step?” So when you feel the building swaying, if you asked yourself, “What would trust and courage do now?” what would your answer be?
Angela: Be calm.
Doctor Neha: Be calm? Tell me what that means.
Doctor Neha: Be present with this.
Angela: Get present with the moment, and just go with it.
Doctor Neha: Yeah, because if something happens, you’ll figure out what’s next.
Angela: I’ll figure out what to do. You’re right.
Doctor Neha: Thank you, my darling. Can you tell me some takeaways that you got on anxiety?
Angela: To be in the moment, to understand that the sky’s obviously not going to fall, and I can do something about controlling it. I can have a choice. I’ve got choices.
Doctor Neha: Yes, and if the sky does fall, you’ll figure out what to do next.
Angela: Exactly. Rise above it.
Doctor Neha: So for all of you out there, especially women because we tend to worry a lot—I hope my kids are okay, I hope my partner’s okay, etc.—if you are suffering from anxiety and you find yourself up at night, check out chapter 15 in my book TalkRx, “The Sky Is not Falling.” I’ll give you tools, similar to what I just did live here. Anxiety is not something you have to live with your whole life. You can shift from fear into self-trust, and some tools will help you do it. Hope this was helpful, and we will see you again next week. If you have a question, write it on the blog and I’d be happy to answer it below. Or drop me a tweet with your question at #askdoctorneha.
When you feel anxious,
- State what you observe. What physical symptoms do you feel? Start breathing.
Become aware of your thoughts and write them down.
- When you believe those thoughts could be true, name the emotion you begin to experience.
- Remind yourself of what you can and can’t control.
- Ask yourself, “What would self-trust and courage would do now?”