High anxiety

Clouds appear to be solid from a distance, especially dark, menacing cumulo-nimbus clouds rolling in over the foothills.  I was just out walking after lunch and I watched a plane flying through those dark clouds… shooting straight through that mass of water vapor without hesitation.  Imagine how terrifying it must have been for early aviators flying through clouds without instruments to tell them they’re about to smash into something?

I don’t know about you, but I still get a little anxious when I am on a plane that rises through the clouds after takeoff.  I’ve done it countless times before and always made it through without incident.  I’ve got two airline pilots in my family who have described to me in detail how advanced the instrumentation is today and how safe it is.  Yet as soon as my vision is obscured for a few seconds, my faith goes right out the tiny oval window.

Why is it so hard to move through clouds without anxiety? Our eyes are constantly scanning for evidence that something is about to smash into us. Our ears are zeroing in on any strange noise that might lead to harm. Our noses are sifting through the swirl of smells searching for anything that might be burning.  And all this data is being delivered to our reptilian brains telling our body that everything is OK… or not.

It works the same way with clouds of uncertainty in your job.  As soon as your solid company starts to shapeshift, the reptile inside you goes on high alert. “Am I going to be OK?  Is something burning?  Is something about to smash into me?   Should I run?!”

Here’s the thing… you are NOT a reptile. You are a highly evolved being and the one sense you need to tap into during times of change is your common sense.  You’ve flown through this before, and your experience, talents and instincts are your advanced instruments.

Remember last time?  You came through it, you survived and the next chapter challenged and taught you something that made you stronger. You are an amazing, adaptable person and you’re capable of achieving great things. Don’t let a little bad weather cloud that vision.

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4 Comments on “High anxiety”

  1. Faith Legendre Says:

    Wow! Fantastic! This is a great reminder! Thank you so much David!

  2. Bo Bidanian Says:

    David,
    This coincidentally comes at a perfect time for me. We implemented some large changes at my company on June 1st (yesterday)and of course, that leads to some level of anxiety. Thank you for the reminder that I’m beyond a reptilian brain, and my common sense should prevail in telling me I’ve been through this (and much more) before, without any harm whatsoever.

  3. Tom Jacobs Says:

    David,
    Thanks for the great post. I’ve been doing a fair amount of research on anxiety and it’s effect on performance and learning. How we encode the results of the situations and anxiety is very important in regards to how we handle anything that looks similar to the situation we’ve experienced. The schema we create tells that reptilian brain what is and is not a threat, as well as how big of a threat it is. If we don’t get a realistic view of the threat we start to bring our imaginations into the mix and create worry and rumination. As we worry it resets our filters for the perceived threat and the next time we experience something resembling that threat we perceive much more profoundly than is appropriate.
    For those who have anxiety disorders this takes on a much more important significance because the filters have been set so high that anything resembling the threat tends to produce anxiety attacks.

    Tom

    • davidgoad Says:

      Tom, thank you so much for this insight! Seeing things for what they really are seems to be the key to sanity.


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