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For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
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.
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman
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.
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
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 have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
C.M.
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.

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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 matter 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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