Archive for the ‘emotional regulation’ Category

Attention gone awry: performance anxiety

A teenager from the High School in which I work came to me today because she missed her final exam.

Her reason was not that she did not know or understand the material, nor was she sick, or held up due to an unforeseen emergency.  It was simply that she could not cope under the stress.

Performance anxiety is a pervading sense of nervous energy gone awry.  The mind wanders here and there and everywhere that is not the present moment.  Stillness is impossible.  Being aware and responding to the context in which you find yourself is essential – but performance anxiety acts like a cue ball that scatters all the rest in various directions until each takes on a life of its own, spiralling, without purpose or direction.

It can make a person feel incompetent.  Because even though you may know the material, your scattered attention is unable to attend to the task at hand, be it making a study plan, reading a paragraph, making notes or answering an exam question.

The mind is a muscle.  Channeling your attention to where we need it to go takes time and practice.

Start with the breath. Breathe in and out. Count slowly.  Make sure your belly rises as you draw in a deep breath over 4 seconds. Hold.  Release. Bit by bit.  Pause and repeat.

Bring your attention back to your breath. When it wanders into the future, into the worry of what will happen or could happen, bring it back to Now.  Breathe.

All that you can do is respond to the moment that faces you.  Ever.  Gather your courage and bring your attention back to the Now.  What is it that is asks of you?  Your fight or flight response may be activated by the fear of what may come.  Greet this fear.  It alerts you to focus and demands of your energy.  Breathe.  And respond.

Fear is not the enemy.  Without fear, we would not know when to fight, freeze or flee. Bring your attention back to what your fear is telling you.  What is the best way in which you can expend your energy, right here, right now?  Do you need to to take a walk to calm your mind? Or put on a calming melody?  Perhaps you will wash your face or take off your shoes so the soles of your feet can feel the comforting grip of the solid, reliable ground.  Breathe.  And release.

Performance anxiety is your mind’s horsepower behaving like an a band of horses with no direction.  Powerful but purposeless.  This energy is a gift.  It is that energy that will allow you to act or withdraw, forge ahead or change direction.  Harness it.

Harnessing your mind’s energy is probably the most powerful skill one can acquire. Channelling this energy in the best way possible in the moment that stands before you is the challenge.

Start with resting your attention on your breath.  It connects the inner you with the world around you. Take in what you need.  Exhale what you don’t.

Breathe.  And release.


While misery is a faithful companion, she will sap your energy, rob your pleasure, and diminish your presence of mind.

Attachment and letting go

Whoever said relationships are not easy was lying.

They are.  They should be. EASY.

It’s working on yourself that is hard.  It’s working on your own reactions and misdemeanors that is the biggest challenge.

How you judge how another person behaves, or whether or not that person conforms to your expectations is about YOU not about them.

The essential ingredient to all loving relationships is our capacity to stride the very delicate line between attachment and letting go.

Attachment is in essence, our neediness.

Lets face it, we are needy.

When it comes to wanting the feeling of being loved, approved of, cared for, needed, looked up to or whatever, it’s to relationships we turn.

The letting go part is about wanting what is best for the other person (and this does NOT contradict what is best for you in ANY way).

Letting go, is about releasing the expectations we carry that the other person is there for the sole purpose of fulfilling our needs.

It’s about a deep, deep knowing that it’s up to us to love, to give, to share what we can from a place of abundance, expecting nothing in return, except the gift of expansion.

Because when we love deeply, unconditionally, that is when the heart expands.  And when it expands, it opens to receiving.

It is when we cannot find it within ourselves to love this unconditional love – that is when we have to walk away.

Because that is what is best, for her, for him, for both.

Because every single one of us is lovable and loving. and if that was not the case, you would not find yourself mangled in an emotional knot, in the first place.

It is the love that brought you here.  Now the work is about knowing your own limitations, your own boundaries – your own neediness. And loving yourself despite these.

So when it comes to giving and taking, demands are just means of control.

Control is simply neediness manifested in bullying, rule-making, imposition of lines and borders.

Negotiation is a means by way of control, and power is bartered and allocated.

Love will die when the parties are in it for control.
It will strangle and suffocate.

In a situation of conflict, demands imposed and expectations strewn, ask yourself this:

What are my own expectations in this situation?  How do i want to control this interaction?
Breathe and release.  Breathe and release.

Be free to love. Be free to share. Be free to give. Be free to receive… and be patient.

Attachment and letting go

Attachment and letting go

Design my Intent

You have all the space in the world to be who you are, to express what you feel, and to act as you will.

All the space in the world.

It’s just a matter of recognizing it, accepting it, and taking responsibility for the choices you make.

Embrace life. It’s yours and only you can decide how to live it.

In this moment, I choose how I will be.  I choose my responses, design my behavior and create my actions.

In this moment, the vastness of space is mine, and I am in the center.

Keep yourself safe, express your needs clearly, protect what you deem is love – no matter how hard someone pushes or pulls.

Be strong enough to say no.

And gentle enough to say yes.

I design my intent - photo by Haider Mirza

Design my intent - photo by Haider Mirza