When life is uncertain, and we’re stressed and anxious, often we drive ourselves crazy with ‘what if’ scenarios. This proves us living in the past with worry and possible regret or in the future causing more concern. There’s another way to question our situations that is positive, and which can help us to find solutions instead of fueling our anxiety even further.
How? Through staying calm, and asking questions from a point of curiosity. It’s about asking the right questions, and controlling the controllables.
To begin this process, we need to adopt a stance of what psychologists call radical self-acceptance. It works like this: we have never been through what we’re going through at the moment, so there is no right and wrong, there’s no roadmap. That’s good news, because it means that actually, you can’t get this wrong.
Next, tapping into the wealth of opportunities and solutions that the imagination and the subconscious hold, can help you to shift from feeling contracted and stressed, to more clear-minded and open-hearted. This happens when we use conscious questions as ways to re-frame situations and stimulate the imagination for a more positive, up-building response.
These kinds of questions have helped me in particular, when I went through a stressful time worrying about my parents who are in South Africa, far away from where I live in London. So, instead of focusing on all the what-ifs, and worrying about them, I started to ask myself, why is it entirely possible that my parents will be okay? Why is it entirely possible that even if they get sick, they can bounce back? Why is it entirely possible that I can feel calm? Why is it entirely possible that I can sleep well tonight? Why is it entirely possible that I can feel fit and healthy, even if I get sick?
Do you get the idea? By using those few words at the beginning of something that is causing you a sense of dis-ease or worry, you can open up your imagination to potential solutions that you might not have thought of if you were just caught in the downward spiral of what-ifs. And that can bring a sense of calm.
Step 1: Think of anything that is currently on your mind that is a concern and that you would like to find a more positive solution for.
Step 2: Add this phrase to the start “Why is it entirely possible that…”
Step 3: Take a few deep breaths and allow any ideas to pop into your conscious mind.
Step 4: Perhaps write down a few thoughts. Writing down things that concern us and possible solutions can ease the burden and allow to feel as if you have already taken some action towards solving it!
This technique was inspired by Nicholas Haines and I highly recommend his 30-minute webinar on conscious questions, available HERE
It also helps to focus on what you can control. You have no control over what’s happening out in the wider world, but you can control your own routine, your own deadlines, the foods you choose to eat, and how active you are. You can regulate your social media exposure, how much news you allow yourself to watch, what books you read, and so on.
If you can focus on those small areas of life and try to execute them in as positive a manner as possible – without beating yourself up for skipping a workout, or eating a whole packet of biscuits when you meant to eat just two – it will help to keep your mind focused, and bring you back to the here and now.
You get the idea: stay as aware and curious as possible. When you feel triggered or off-centre, start by asking conscious questions. If that doesn’t help, and you feel out of control, control the heck out of something else. Perhaps clean out a closet, do a puzzle, go for a walk in the garden or simply sit still with your eyes closed and breathe deeply.
Control what you can, and stay curious and open to possibility – and it will help you to stay calm under pressure.