I gave myself a throbbing headache today because I allowed myself to be overcome by worry. Have you done this before? It could be worry about anything really. Worry about a test. Worry about memorizing lines for a play. Worry about the economy. Worry about a family member’s health. Worry about your own health. Worry about what kind of job you’ll have when you graduate. Worry about not being able to afford the lifestyle you want. Worry about being single forever. Worry about being trapped in an unhappy marriage. Worry about letting down your family. Worry about letting down yourself. Worry about not achieving your dreams. Worry. Worry. Worry. BAH.
When do I feel the least worried? When I think of my Grandma’s kitchen. My gramma (like many of yours I’m sure) was a survivor who ENDURED so many things: decades of balancing family and labor, endless nights caring for a spouse whose lungs were rattled with emphysema, countless days raising an extensive network of children and grandchildren, fearlessly surviving the Great Depression, battling life with arthritic hands and knees…
She was more than just a grandmother. She was a teacher, a nurse, a caretaker. She was my friend. My grandmother had the weight of the world on her shoulders and yet… she was always pleasant. Always loving. Always wise. Not just always… but in all ways. This lady had it together! And she never failed to help me GET A GRIP.
Now when I was in college and I started to feel overwhelmed or worried or scared I’d go visit with Grandma P. We’d have lunch which was promptly followed by hot tea and krumpets. She’d sit at her kitchen table wearing her plaid “house coat” snacking on a MiracleWhip, tomato and ham sandwich. Leaning back in her chair she’d take a sip of RC Cola, and peering at me over her pink acrylic eyeglasses she’d say “Look Red, worry is like a rocking chair. It keeps you busy…but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Worry is like a rocking chair. Heh. Makes sense, eh? So what’s your rocking chair? Is it despair, jealousy, fear, rage, anger, wrath… hey it happens to ALL of us. Something or someone sets us off and these feelings instantly have power over us; or worse yet… it doesn’t happen in an instant… it brews. POWERFUL emotions are these, but AUTHENTIC power they are not. In the theatre we are trained to harness these states of mind and summon them at the appropriate time when sensory recall is in order. But what about in real life? How can we get a handle on an emotional tsunami and resist the urge to freak out? How do we bail out of a tidal wave when all we have is a teaspoon? How can we can we use our energy to unleash the authentic power we each have inside of us?
Below are my 4 A’s for reclaiming your authentic power. I like to think of them as a meditative device; only here I’m using the meditative sound of AWWW instead of OMMMMM…..
The first step towards authentic power is creating awareness. When a painful feeling washes over you. STOP. DROP. AND ROLL. Becoming aware of the feeling is key to owning it.
Ladies and gents now that you are aware of this painful feeling – please place your tray into the full upright position and kindly remind yourself that the plane is not crashing. FEAR is a powerful paper dragon. The thoughts and feelings whirling about your heart and mind are coming from a part of you that’s FRIGHTENED by the false belief that “you are not good enough”. It’s a LIE. You are awesome. FEAR stands for Fake Experience Appearing Real. Let’s resist comparing ourselves to anyone. There’s only 1 me. There’s only 1 you. The world doesn’t need another so-and-so. The world needs YOU.
Webster’s defines audacity as: bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints …. Now realize that the decisions we make when we are jealous, angry, or fearful come from a place (from a part of you) that is FRIGHTENED. Ask yourself- “Really? Do I want my decisions to be made by a part of me that is frightened? Do I want to allow this terrified part of me to react to this situation? What audacity!? What’s up with that?” I didn’t think so.
In the theatre we use an exercise called “It’s as if…” This exercise helps the actor to imagine how an ordinary being would behave under extraordinary circumstances. Webster’s defines auspicious as: attended by good. With that in mind, ask yourself “How would I handle this situation IF I were compassionate, graceful, and wise?” What would Mother Theresa do? What would Michelle Obama do? WWJD? In other words, what would the calm, loving, servant leader in me do?
Remember that within every decision we make there is a leadership moment; and part of being a leader is accepting responsibility for those decisions.
Decide to be kind.
Decide to be graceful.
Decide to be humble.
Decide to be brilliant.
Decide to get a grip.
Decide to set the example… not become one.