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This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms

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Reduce Anxiety with Values and Goals

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Many of us who live with anxiety, spend a lot of time avoiding people, places and activities that cause us distress, with the hopes of managing or eliminating that discomfort. The problem is the more we narrow our lives to avoid the unpleasant people and situations, the more miserable we are.

When we focus on avoiding problems or pain, we get more anxious, because that solution is only temporary. Avoidance counterintuitively puts more focus on our worries. We are constantly thinking about ways to fend off the stress.

What if we could use something positive to move toward, rather than something negative to avoid?

Values

Photo by Blaise Vonlanthen on Unsplash

Values are something we can embrace and move toward even when we struggle with anxiety. Values are the light at the end of the tunnel. We are naturally motivated to live our values. We don’t have to avoid our values to feel safe. We adore them. They make us who we are and they make our lives meaningful.

Values involve thought AND action. We contemplate what means something to us and we use our behavior to show its importance.

What do you value?

To allow our values to drive us, we need to know what they are. Here are several realms that harbor what matters to us:

  • Career: What work inspires us? What goals do we have career-wise? What constitutes a job well done?
  • Intimate relationships: What relationships matter the most to us? How can we foster more connection? What do we want to work on with our partners, friends or children?
  • Education: Where do we need to improve? What more do we have to learn? What are our education goals?
  • Health: What part of our health needs work? Do we want to be able to run and play with our children? Grandchildren? Should we lose weight to help our heart health? Are we in a good place with our mental health?
  • Spiritual: Are we longing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves? What areas of personal growth would fulfill us? Perhaps spending more time in nature is important.
  • Community: How could contributing to the community give us purpose and meaning? How could we give back?
  • Any other area that we find intrinsically valuable.

Goals

Our unique values drive us to set and complete goals. Without having to focus on managing anxiety, we can reach more goals. Without having to avoid all kinds of anxiety triggers, we can have a more direct path toward what is meaningful.

Mindfulness practice

Move toward what matters versus moving away from what hurts.

Mindfulness practices allow us to open to feelings, worries and the present moment. One of the main tenants of mindfulness is to be with what is happening while it is happening, without judgment. While being mindful, we don’t get attached to thoughts (even negative ones) and we don’t focus on distractions.

For example, if I asked you to take three deep breaths right now and not think of anything  except your breathing, could you do it without your mind wandering? If your mind wanders, can you gently bring it back to your breath without berating yourself for getting distracted? If so, you already have a good foundation in mindfulness. If not, no worries, keep trying to focus on the breaths and let go of distractions. If you find yourself losing focus, no problem, just compassionately redirect your attention to the breath again.

Mindfulness has no intention of bringing about judgment or self-criticism. It only intends to help us notice what is happening presently inside and outside us, without judgment.

With anxiety, mindfulness teaches us to stay in the present moment and not let the brain look toward the uncertain future or relive the regrets of the past. If our minds start to ruminate about the past or future, we only have to gently redirect our focus back to the present. Over time our concentration muscle develops and presence becomes easier.

In this way, mindfulness helps us move toward challenges, feelings and what is important to us without letting anxiety take over.

Has anxiety gotten in the way of doing what is important to you?

What if you stopped sidestepping people, jobs, activities, relationships, etc. and focused on making your life profoundly satisfying by achieving goals and honoring your values?

I realize this sounds like an oversimplification of reducing anxiety. It takes practice and work to stop avoiding discomfort or stress. This post only hopes to give you a different target and mindset.

This does not happen overnight. We have to learn to accept our emotions and the discomfort of fear and anxiety. Using what we value to motivate and guide us, to give us purpose, makes the path clearer and our discomfort easier to bear.

What purposes or values have given you hope and strength to endure stress or pain? What do you avoid to minimize anxiety? How has that negatively impacted you? 

Would you like to talk with me about how to reduce anxiety’s control in your life? I’d love to discuss a life with less anxiety with you. Please contact me here.

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2 Comments

  1. TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo February 4, 2018 at 11:23 am - Reply

    This right here! I’ve experienced this myself as I’ve worked to grow as a writer and a ballroom dancer, I’ve become less depressed and less anxious. I’m also better able to pinpoint the triggers when I do get hit with depression or anxiety. Having a purpose (value, goal) for your life provides focus and a guiding light in the darkness.

    • Brenda Knowles February 4, 2018 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      Bravo! Awesome to hear how your goals and what you value has given you guidance and led you away from anxiety. Keep on writing and dancing!

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