How's Your Emotional Health?
When I do anxiety work with adults, the analogy that we use is The Boardroom. So the boardroom is basically: you think about a business boardroom. There are all these different parts of ourselves that are sitting around the board.
There's anxious me, depressed me, party girl me, old me pre-kids, there's worrying me, fear me. The roles that I play: wife, husband, brother, son, daughter, friend, employee, manager, right? All the different roles that we play. There are all these different parts of ourselves that come to the board every day.
What happens is, sometimes there's a board member who is a little bit obnoxious and, say, anger me takes the mic and hijacks the meeting sometimes. Or sometimes it's fear me that hijacks the meetings. And what often happens is when there's a part of ourselves that's annoying, like anxiety or fear, we exile them. We abandon them, we reject them, we tell them "You can't come to meetings anymore, you need to step outside," and then we lock the door.
But the problem is, they keep banging on the door, they don't go quietly. And it just, it's really hard to have meetings with this one person outside who's banging on the door.
What we want to do is, and we don't want her to do that either, right? Because that's a lot of the issues I deal with with a lot of adults is working on finding the parts that they've exiled and parts of themselves that they've abandoned, because they made me feel too weak or vulnerable when I was a kid, and I couldn't cope with them. So I had to kind of cut them out. It's always a survival mechanism when we cut out parts of ourselves, but what we want to be doing for her is teaching her the kind of three steps that go with that, the parts of ourselves that we exile.
One is recovery: we find the parts of myself that I've rejected and abandoned. Usually it comes down to they didn't help me when I was little, they didn't make me feel safe.
The second is reconciliation. I reconcile with them. "I'm sorry, I kicked you out. I kicked you out because you just made me feel too weak. You made me feel too vulnerable. And I couldn't cope with that."
And then three is integration. I work out a way to allow them back into board meetings. "Yes, anxiety, you're here. It's so nice to see you. I'm glad you made it. What do you want to say? We all want to hear your concerns." Anxiety shares its issues. "Mm hmm. Got it. Thank you anxiety, okay. Now we're going to move on to resilient me. Resilient me, what would you like to say in response to anxiety's, concerns?" So all the parts of myself are allowed. They're all welcome. They all serve a purpose. I love every part of me, I have compassion on every part of myself. But nobody waits outside. Nobody gets rejected.
And that's what I want to teach her is that, "Sweetheart, your anxiety is just one of your board members," or sometimes with kids, I use the analogy of like a team. Like a footy or a basketball team, whatever sport they kind of get. That every team has players that play certain positions, and they have certain jobs in the team. And anxious me is just one of your players. And we need the whole team to function. I don't want to tell anxiety that she can't be here. She's totally allowed to be here. We just have to kind of do it in measure where she doesn't get three hours on the microphone. She gets 10 minutes like everyone.