• Thrive Inc.

Dealing with Stuckness, Fear, and Anxiety

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

With everything going on in the world right now, we are facing tremendous amounts of stress and grief. Between climate change, wildfires, politics, and social justice issues, many of us are alternating between feeling stuck in our lives or frantically trying to control things around us. There’s a lot to contend with, but it’s important to remember that we are physical energy beings, and we need to keep our energy moving.

It has been scientifically proven that people who take time to pause, connect with their body, and feel what is going on internally make significant changes in their life. When we numb out and stop feeling our feelings, we do things we’re not happy with. That’s why we wanted to share some tools that we’ve found effective to help release inner resistance and reach a sense of calm.

Join us on the podcast this week as we share some ways you can deal with the stress you might be facing in your life right now. We talk about the process of ‘focusing’ and share examples of people who have done the inner work to address issues that were holding them back. You’ll be more compassionate and kind to yourself after this episode!

If you want to make a difference for either yourself and your career, or your team and your organization, be sure to reach out to us and sign up for coaching! We can come and do a book club or simply visit with your team! Don’t worry about physical limitations – we work really well virtually, too!

If you enjoyed the show, please share the podcast with your family and friends, or post a five-star review on iTunes. Rating and reviewing the show helps spread the word, which means less friction and suffering for everyone, and who doesn’t want that?

Listen on Apple Podcast | Stitcher | Spotify

Learn More:

  • What focusing is and how to do it.

  • How to deal with feeling stuck, afraid, and anxious.

  • What Gestalt therapy is and why you could benefit from it.

  • How to prevent excessive worry.

  • The importance of listening to your own resistance.

  • Why you might be stuck in an old loop.


Full Transcript:

CrisMarie: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home and everywhere else in your life. I am CrisMarie.

Susan: And I'm Susan.

CrisMarie: We run a company called Thrive Inc, and we specialize in conflict resolution, stress management coaching and building strong, thriving teams and relationships.

Susan: Now, we know, no one likes conflict, not even us and we’ve written two books on the topic. In our work over the last 20 plus years we’ve found most people avoid, manage or diffuse conflict. The problem is when you opt out of conflict in these ways you miss the creativity, the connection and the possibility that lies in conflict.

CrisMarie: We also know 2020 has been, well, let’s face it, a stressful year. And what Susan and I realized is all the tools that we’ve developed and utilized around conflict apply directly to uncertainty, which is what we’re living in now.

Susan: In this podcast we have tools; concept and interviews that will help you cope with the stress and uncertainty of conflict, of Covid, of social justice issues and, yes, even politics. We hope you’ll walk away from this episode with some fresh ideas that change your day, your week and even your life.

CrisMarie: Today’s episode is really how to deal with stuck-ness, fear, anxiety or even life just with Covid.

Susan: Without Covid really, but Covid has really brought it all to the foreground.

CrisMarie: Yeah, that’s true. And we have politics. So big picture, we keep wondering when are we going to go back to normal? And people have talked about hitting the wall, the six months.

Susan: Six months, eight months, sometimes. And it’s amazing; here where we are we didn’t ever really go through a first wave. But we are now in a big wave of Covid testing positive and our state continues to rise [crosstalk].

CrisMarie: Yeah. So this is CrisMarie, so don’t come to Montana because we have had everybody come and now we are tripling our numbers by the day. It is very scary.

Susan: And it’s not just Covid in the world these days, there’s a lot of factors. There’s climate change, there’s wild fires, there’s hurricanes. We have an assistant who every other week she’s dealing with a hurricane.

CrisMarie: And social justice issues and then the election.

Susan: There’s a lot. We just know that this life presents us with a lot of opportunities about how we need to continue [crosstalk].

CrisMarie: No, I think this is fun.

Susan: Okay.

CrisMarie: You have nothing wrong with your teeth.

Susan: Okay. I just have to say, she’s [inaudible] on a piece of - big clump of lettuce on your teeth.

CrisMarie: Now, I don’t know. Susan I am…

Susan: This is Susan, I’d better say that this is Susan talking, not CrisMarie. So here we are back – see this is what life presents us, even in moments like this.

CrisMarie: So today we actually do want to give you something relevant for you, which is how to deal with these, you know, when you get into the stress of your life right now, whether it’s you feel stuck, or you get into frantic action trying to control everything. Or the reverse, you go into procrastination and more depression.

Susan: Or you are symptomizing. You’re noticing you’re having a lot more physical symptoms or possibly even accidents, things that you normally don’t have.

CrisMarie: Right. But even excessive worry about like oh my gosh, I’ve got to plan. Are we going to run out of money, or whatever the future focus is? Or I should have, would have, could have, I should have done something differently. So that’s a past focus and you’re beating yourself about that.

Susan: And also there is a tremendous amount of grief that’s present. And for those that have lost people or various reasons why you might be, or lost your business or whatever. These are all situations that we think there are some practical tools that you can use that we want to share with you today to kind of help you come up with ways to kind of keep your energy moving and not get stuck.

CrisMarie: So it’s really a resiliency podcast, this is another way to access your own personal resiliency.

Susan: We should mention first, we believe all of these are predicated by the idea that you recognize the importance of breath. And we did a whole podcast on breathing. And we’re going to give you some techniques that actually in and of themselves may work. But boy, did they take a bounce in productivity when you start to pay more attention to your breath. So I just want to put a plug in for breathing.

CrisMarie: I love it. Because so many of what we – when I’m coaching people they’re trying to think their way through the solutions. Your mind makes a good manager. It does not make a good CEO. Connecting to a larger sense of yourself, that’s really the CEO of you, and whether you want to call that soul, or source, or spirit, embodied in you, something bigger than just your mind, or heart is another way of thinking about it.

I studied with Ann Weiser Cornell who studied with Eugene Gendlin who is the author of Focusing. And he studied at the University of Chicago I think with somebody famous there, I’m not really sure. But what he found is that he did these tests for people that did talk therapy. And he would study them and he really looked at who makes real change from talk therapy. And he noticed if people were, “I’ll come, and I’ll vent, and I’ll talk about my life and then go.” They really didn’t kind of take big steps forward or changes.

Those people, however, that actually paused and said, “Wow, gosh, that just feels like a lead blanket on me.” They paused and they felt what was going on or, “Wow, that’s a breath of fresh air.” But they’re noticing it, “I feel it in my chest, in my shoulders.” They connected to their body. Those people made significant changes and moved forward in their life. So there’s often the mind and talk separate from the body really doesn’t make real change until you start to breathe and check-in with the body, and are aware of those sensations. Those are scientifically proven to make change.

Susan: And it’s additionally hard right now because often we are looking at a screen, talking to people over Zoom. We could even imagine we don’t have a body unless we pay better attention to it, because sometimes I’m just seeing these faces.

CrisMarie: These heads.

Susan: These heads and little squares on my screen.

CrisMarie: Well, in a lot of the tech executives or corporate executives that I coach, they sit behind their computer. Well, one executive said, “I’m starting at 7:00am and I’m booked till 1:00am.” Because he has overseas people, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, you’ve got to build in breaks, you’ve got to get up and move that body.” Because we are physical energy beings and we tend to forget that. We tend to think we’re machines with a brain on top.

Susan: I mean maybe Covid will help because now that we’re forced to be looking at these screens we are beginning to realize how absurd that is. But I don’t know yet, six months may not have gotten us there.

CrisMarie: It’s easy to numb out and not feel, and then you wind up doing things that you’re not really happy with and you’re not feeling very alive in your work and your life. So Susan and I want to give you some tools.

Susan: That we each for different reasons have found very effective for us. You were talking about focusing, and I love that you brought up some of that research.

CrisMarie: Yeah. So one way to think about this is, you know when you want to do something like start an exercise regime, or start a hobby, or write the book, and you just don’t? It just doesn’t seem to happen. That’s an example of you’re of two minds or two parts, I would say, not minds, because there’s more of you. But there’s two parts of you that are kind of wrestling for some part of you. One part of you wants to write the book and another part doesn’t.

When I work with clients I’m often helping them connect into their body, ground in their body. And we’ve given you tools of that too, the grounding to be in your body. And to feel into the part of you that doesn’t want to do it. Because so often we want to like willpower over it, I’m just going to make myself do it, if I schedule it. What’s the system that’s going to put it in place? And really you can build systems all day long. And until you actually turn towards the part of you that doesn’t want to do it, something will keep self-sabotaging you, that part will…

Susan: It’s so true.

CrisMarie: And so one woman, she’s an entrepreneur that I’m coaching for a while now. And she wants to move forward. And what happens is some part of her – to start a new business, and another part of her is like, “Hmm, hmm.” And so as we’ve turned towards that part, turns out it’s this younger part of her that feels like oh my gosh, I’m going to get ridiculed, I’m going to fail. All sorts of stuff comes up. And the key is you don’t need to resolve any of that. Often just listening to that part of yourself is enough to actually release the internal resistance to moving forward.

Susan: I know when you’ve done focusing with me, CrisMarie, a big key factor is yes, turning towards that part. And not just giving it a narrative, but actually describing it, giving it a sensation. Sometimes it drives me nuts when you ask me this question, “What does it feel like?”

CrisMarie: Where is it in your body?

Susan: Where is it in your body? And when I’m in my head it is not a very – I’m not very, I want to fight you. But I have discovered the more that I let myself drop in and where do I feel it? If I had to describe it and I couldn’t just call it something I want to complain about, how would I give it, you know? And the more I do that the more I get into my body. And I think that’s an important distinction.

CrisMarie: Yes, because those parts of us, the sensations that you’re usually feeling are often in your torso, like a tightness in your chest, a flip flop in your belly, a catch in your throat, a pressure often in the third eye. That’s another area where people, “I feel like I have a band around my head.” Those are something in you that’s coming up. And it’s there for some good reason.

And so we really want to honor that and listen to it, turn towards it, as if you would if it was outside of you. If it was some part of another person who was complaining, you’d turn towards that person and listen to them. And that’s a very powerful way. There’s more but it’s a powerful way of working through that.

Susan: And the way that I understand it from what you shared with me too is it’s like when we don’t do that, we’re actually enmeshed with this. And so the act of actually really beginning to move that part out a bit, separate it, get it and know that there’s a larger part of myself that can actually, is huge.

CrisMarie: Yes, I love that Susan. So what we’re developing when we are practicing focusing is also another part of the brain that can watch and turn towards. Because often when people are – another client of mine has a lot of anxiety. And so it’s like that little kid, the anxious one is the one who’s driving the bus, oh my gosh, we need to do that. And I’d better do this.

And until she actually settles down and turns towards it and develops the capacity in her brain, in her nervous system to turn towards that part. Then she recognizes oh my God, that’s a scared little kid who’s trying to run my business, or lead my team. And so when she does she can actually – that part will settle down as she’s with it. So yeah, that enmeshment, and you don’t have to be – sometimes when people are flooded with anxiety, or urgency, it’s really a part. And if you can just notice, like wow, that must be something in me, you’re already bigger than it.

Susan: It’s been helpful to me just to use those words. Something in me is terrified of.

CrisMarie: Right. And that’s one way you can actually be bigger than it is just to use the language. Something in me is worried. And if you can just say hello to that part and let it know you’re there too, it’s not alone, there’s all of a sudden like this, oh, it’s a real calming to the nervous system quite a bit.

Susan: It’s a pretty powerful body of work. And I think the way you have incorporated it, because I mean you, CrisMarie, have done a variety of different somatic, that’s not just focusing. So in your coaching I think you do expand and include a number of different ideas. And so focusing is a big key piece for you and has been hugely helpful.

CrisMarie: And one thing when I think we had a 100 sessions in a month or something, and I was coaching a lot of technology executives. And they are so focused in the brain, to actually bring some presence into the body, made huge leaps and strides in settling themselves and accessing more. Because when you’re that stressed and just using your brain, your IQ drops 10 to 15 points. So bringing more of you online and present, you’re more creative, you’re smarter, you feel better, you feel more energized.

Susan: Yes. So I actually wanted to talk a little bit. So I mean I actually have come to really had some profound shifts using focusing. So I do think it’s a very valuable tool. And I also – we always kind of like to – we have our differences about what techniques we use, although we do share them.

CrisMarie: And you have been doing this body focus work for 30 years up in The Haven.

Susan: [Crosstalk].

CrisMarie: Well, I just want to just add your credibility here, because you have a master’s in family systems. And have been leading people, and groups, and coaching people for 30 years to help them deal with all these different types of things.

Susan: Yes. I realize a lot of times what I talk about is how it really came about because of what was happening to me with cancer. But I did spend the next 20 years doing an incredible amount of training - 30 years. I’ve got to acknowledge my age. And as a result, it’s not just an experiential pathway to me, it does come based on [crosstalk].

CrisMarie: You’ve worked with people, you’ve taught it. I know you’re resisting me having to say all this.

Susan: Yes.

CrisMarie: But you teach people about it. I mean you develop people along their process. Isn’t that amazing? So I just want to give you a…

Susan: And I have had the opportunity fortunately to train and work with some incredible masters. And so why I’m even talking about that is one of the things that I got introduced to and I still to this day find incredibly profound. Is it would be classically called gestalt or the 2-chair process, which was actually introduced by Fritz Perls years back, probably was one of those 60s big ones, same age as Ben and Jock.

CrisMarie: Bennet Wong from Haven, so they were contemporaries, even of Eugene Gendlin.