Anxiety is a part of life. When anxiety is high, the part of our brain that helps with thoughtful responses begins to shut down – enabling the reactionary part of the brain to take over. To diminish the power of anxiety in ourselves and in the group we must first learn to recognize and manage it.
Anxiety and personal vows go hand in hand. We experience anxiety as our vows get stirred up. We react to that anxiety by defending ourselves and protecting ourselves.
One way we react to anxiety is through conflict. Anxiety rises as we feel a sense of threat. We might fear being dominated, not being heard, being abandoned or being forced to give up self. We defend ourselves by blaming others. We behave abusively. We become critical of others and argumentative. We verbally attack in an attempt to dominate “them” before they dominate us. We focus more on others and their behavior than we do on ourselves and our behavior.
When a person reacts to anxiety with conflict, winning at all cost becomes the goal. We would rather win than be productive, and all our playfulness gets tossed aside. Win/lose, right/wrong and all or nothing thinking dominates us. Typically in the midst of this reactivity to our anxiety we quit thinking, and all logic is lost. As a result, we make poor decisions, collaboration is impossible, and resentments emerge.
Learning to manage ones anxiety and reactivity is a key to healthy relationships. We must learn to monitor our anxiety and become less reactive. Identifying one’s vows is crucial to becoming less reactive.
We must learn to calm ourselves and re-engage our thinking rather than just reacting. We need to learn calming practices. As we re-engage our thinking we need to access our guiding principles.
We must learn to take responsibility for ourselves and quit focusing on others. As long as we think the problem is “out there”, that very thinking is our problem. The only person you can change is you, but you can change you.
- All-or-nothing thinking
- Win/lose thinking
- Right/wrong thinking
- Valuing conformity over diversity
- Blaming others
- Behaving abusively
- Becoming critical
- Focusing more on others than self