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are you tying yourself in knots?

Wishing papers in a japanese garden© Radu Razvan Gheorghe

Have you even had that feeling - the one where you feel like you are waiting for something or maybe someone to happen? Maybe you are even just wishing that it might just go away? That nagging and pervasively annoying feeling - perhaps its an idea thats just shaping itself and not quite there or a problem you’re trying to solve? Its a low lying, under the skin kind of feeling. Often it can have a couple of different effects on you; it can make you feel completely frozen by it - you can’t move, you can’t think straight, you don’t function properly, and weirdly you don’t even think you know what is that you want to happen. You can feel that until it happens you aren’t able to proceed or move forward, stuck in a rut, not sure how to move it along, some have described it as feeling outside of control of your own thoughts and feelings.

The other sense is one of trepidation, or a huge knot in your stomach, its gripping your gut feeling and squeezing. Its that feeling of foreboding, fear or worry when you have a sense of something that is amiss, or that you sense something is lacking or out of sync. There is a lack of equilibrium and its tipping you off balance.

We all have our ways of dealing with these things and the crux of the matter is that when we get this ‘feeling’ its because our subconscious is telling us that we have to face something and deal with it. Its not enough to say you don’t know what it is, in your gut or in your core you know exactly what it it, its often that thing you’ve been carrying around for a while, or it could be that crappy conversation you had with your mum, it could be not letting go of someone or something thing, it could be an old gripe with someone wearing on your mind, or it could just be that chore or job or even that tax return that you are pushing out of your mind.

The truth is we are all good at avoiding facing up to stuff. We procrastinate. We distract ourselves, so we make that cup of tea, walk the dog, go shopping, tidy the kitchen, write another email, call another supplier, what ever it is we keep pushing it down and away. The problem is that it won’t go. When we are fighting our subconscious mind it will always find a way of re-presenting the thing that we are trying to ignore, some people call them our demons, I think its just the stuff that we know we’ve got to face up to and deal with, and sometimes its even your subconscious mind surfacing stuff you didn’t even know was a problem, the deeply buried stuff, or even the stuff you just to need to let go.

Your subconscious is the the part of the brain that keeps us true to ourselves, keeps us on our path, keeps re-surfacing those things we have to face so that we can actually go forward and achieve the things we are aiming for - to achieve our purpose. Every time you say to yourself you don’t know, you do, you always know, and finding the common thread to those things is a good place to start. This is where the anxiety, the fear, the knot, the grip comes from. There is a always common thread that triggers that feeling. The more we ignore, the more we avoid, in actual fact all it is doing is compounding the dilemma/ anxiety. It is building associations and assumptions on top that in turn drive a negative pattern, our brain layers more and more, creating new connections the longer we hang on - yet we are programmed to run from pain and so ironically the thing we are doing by continue to ignore it - just prolongs the feeling, increases and deepens it (it grows in our heads). Thats how anxiety grows. We are preprogrammed to protect ourselves, to put up barriers and we do this by building assumptions, drawing on past experience, thoughts and feelings, focusing on our limitations and by listening to that little daemon sitting in your right ear - you know the one - the one who protects you and keeps you from making mistakes, or so you think!

So what do you do when you get this feeling? Are you one of those people that pushes it down, uses every distraction in the book to ignore it and gets on with something else? Are you the person that sits and obsesses over it, but is still frozen to do anything about it? Are you the person that persuades yourself its nothing and just carries on before? Are you the person that texts your best mate talking confidently of the problem, creating excuses for it, justifying why you change nothing, laughing it off, trying to minimise it? All of these are real ways we deal with tension, anxiety, that blob of indecipherable something that is messing with our head.

There are a few things to start with that will help manage this state. First you need to ask how you are going to resolve it.

You know what the ‘problem’ or dilemma is already, but you need to know the how.

If you can switch your thinking to see this as a positive reaction and a chance to restructure and balance, this is a good start.

Write the problem down, be honest. Then list out in order the following:

  • all the concerns, connections, limitations

  • now identify who is part of it

  • look at the outcome you want, what if you don’t get that outcome? would there be a benefit? what would you learn?

By understanding it from all angles, its much easier to minimise, to deal with in order to re-focus or re-frame. It will have its benefits and it will have its challenges and you need to see both sides in order to be able to take the emotion and fear out of it.

Once you have identified these things, write a list of 3 things to start with, 3 actions that you are going to do or change now that you have faced it.

This immediately enables a sense of control, and when you start carrying out the action, the anxiety, the knot, will recede. As we chip away at it that sense of foreboding, the ‘waiting’ dissipates. The very act of taking control enables empowerment. Tension is in fact a very healthy state. Its challenging us to keep things in balance. When we are out of balance something will work in polarity that will show us that we are out of balance. When someone in your life is supporting you, there will always be someone there with the skeptical viewpoint.when you get that bad or foreboding feeling, remember, its your subconscious reminding you that you need to alter something.

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