Hello readers. I am still feeling the excitement of the recent launch of the Second Edition of Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking, and announcement number two: I’m so thrilled to welcome you to my brand new website! I hope your experience here will be informative, comforting, and very user friendly. I hope that if you’re feeling lost, this will feel like home. I hope that you’ll find here creative ways of cracking the code of anxiety, practical strategies to change the worry conversation in your head, simple steps to get moving in your life, and over all that you find your visits here leave you feeling inspired and more in charge in your life. I’m gathering all the anxiety management tools and blogposts in what I have named the Anxiety-Worrywise Library. I’ll be adding videos in the coming months, and who knows, maybe even a podcast. No, probably just videos, I’ve got to practice what I preach about the importance of setting sustainable goals…
And speaking of practicing what I’m preaching, aside from the fact that resiliency skills are something that I have to practice every single day, I really had to find them when it came to this website. Wait- that didn’t sound right. What I mean is that from the outside it might seem like this was exactly the way I planned it—and with perfect timing— a new website when launching a new book and, all at the beginning (almost) of the new year- except, that’s totally not at all how it went.
It started back in April when I was happily on vacation, and casually pulled out my laptop for what I thought would be a two minute task of finding a blogpost on my website for a colleague, and instead was confronted with this:
My own website was “currently unable” to handle my request? Wait, what?
You know those unhappy robot icons with x’s in the place of eyes that make them seemed possessed? Well that robot was there too, right there on my laptop on that Saturday in the mountains. I had the sinking feeling that the possessed looking robot with the x’s for eyes was going to crash my site. Or, it already was crashed and that all my years of work were lost. Yes, I was catastrophizing—instantaneously, effortlessly. And, granted, I know that problems such as these pale in comparison to the many hardships of humanity, but for a bit there, I was awash in my own stress and loss of perspective fueled in large part by my lack of knowledge about how websites actually work.
What does an anxiety therapist do when she’s blindsided by life?
Yep, you got it, she’s got to practice what she preaches:
I needed to do a “red pen edit” of my own self talk the way I teach my patients to:
It wasn’t a disaster…. It felt like a disaster right now.
It wasn’t that I had no idea what to do… I felt like I had no idea what to do—in that moment, but I had options.
I needed to get specific and narrow down the catastrophe in my head to the problem at hand. Rather than race into the future of all the what if’s about lost website content, etc. I needed to snap the measuring time of the future back to the moment, and then get to work. I scrambled, I called tech support, I found my site wasn’t crashed but it was “broken.” Techs did the computer coding equivalent of surgical duct taping of my website which would keep it going “for a while” they said—how long is a while? They couldn’t say. Tick tock. Tick tock. Living with uncertainty. So I had to find the flexibility to switch gears—a website wasn’t part of the “growth” that I had planned for in that time, but it had to be done. More scrambling and scrambling found me two most amazingly talented (and very patient with me) web-designers, Lauren and John and then work, work, work on the website—while in the midst of poignant sandwich generation challenges, major travails of homeownership, various and sundry other obstacle course events that are part of life— and then just about exactly 9 months later—voila! My new website was born. I couldn’t be happier!
But if I hadn’t told you this, you wouldn’t have known, right? So, why, you might ask, am I sharing this backstory?
One of the ideas I talk about in my writing and in my sessions with anxious kids and adults is the idea that growth is hard. That growth is messy. That it often doesn’t feel good—especially at first. Why do I talk about this? Because especially in this instant-gratification feeding culture we don’t talk about that. We are not so good at showing that side of things. We don’t see life as an arc of work. We expect flawless and effortless arrivals. We want to skip to the voila! without the struggle. And if there’s struggle, something’s wrong. Kids grow up believing that athletes or youtubers or even straight A students are just “born this way.” Success takes no effort, no fuss, no muss. Those who are successful are just lucky. Which is why I am a fierce proponent of “showing the seams” of how things really work. How are kids (or even adults) going to believe that a rocky process is a normal process if we don’t share the back story of life, shining a light on how change and progress really happen through hard work, perseverance, disappointment, struggle, and triumph. The subtitle of Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking is looping in my mind—a lifetime of resilience, flexibility and happiness. And the relationship between those ideas. How do we make a happy life? What do we do when we are feel thwarted from our goals? We edit. We keep our interpretations narrow and accurate. Without these skills we leave ourselves and our kids at risk for anxiety and depression—and given the alarming rates at which these disorders are increasing—these skills aren’t a luxury, they are a must. A social-emotional staple for navigating life.
Growth often comes from the tough moments not the smooth sailing moments of life and what looks all put together comes from what can look like… chaos at first. Chaos is more of a feeling when order is still under construction, yet to be accomplished. We, as adults, need to demystify the process of growth for ourselves, so that our young people won’t be de-railed when confronted with disappointments and transitions, the potholes of life. We need to expect these obstacles so we can translate for our kids how these transitions are never seamless, never perfect, often not even easy, and they always take work, and that’s not the detour off the path of life—that is the path of life.
It’s all in the way we narrate the situations of struggle we face. And we can pick up the editor’s red pen to our own self-talk, get worry and negative thinking out of the way, and get working.
Change is good. Change is messy. And the more that we trust that we’ll adjust, the less we suffer all along the way.
So— please, share your “seams” with someone today—let’s make it safe for each other to be human. And then… please, check out my new website— and subscribe to the mailing list. I’m especially excited to gather all the blogposts and interviews I’ve done about all different kinds of anxiety from fear of throwing up (my most read blogpost) to apology anxiety (one of my personal favorites), to my personal story about anxiety (one of them, anyway—the one with the bear) and everything in between.
I am just now launching on Instagram too—to share quick tips faster and sneak past my over-explainer tendency (my daughters call me, “Repeater woman”) which means that I take a bit too long to write a blog post. So please do subscribe to my newsletter for the longer reads, and follow me on social media for the quick boosts (see icons below). You can be one of my first followers on Instagram @tamarchanskyphd. Please come say hi. Thank you for joining me, readers. Working together, looking out for each other, we will free the planet from anxiety one thought at a time– here’s to less worry all around.
©2020 Tamar Chansky, Ph.D.