In this episode, I walk you through one of the most simple and effective tools for reducing anxiety that you can try with me, right here, right now, as you're listening.
This is from the book The Anti-Anxiety Toolkit by Melissa Tiers, my teacher and the founder of Center for Integrative Hypnosis. (Here's the link to her book on US Amazon)
Here's the link to a LinkedIn video of me demonstrating bilateral stimulation, another technique that Melissa taught me. My clients tell me this also helps them reduce anxiety and gain agency over their emotions.
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Jamie Lee (00:01):
Welcome to negotiate your Career growth. I'm Jamie Lee, and I teach you how to blend the best of negotiation strategies with feminist coaching so you get promoted and better paid without burning bridges or burning out in the process. Let's get started. This is for you if you are anxious, I know who isn't these days, right? Many of us are anxious and we have reason to be. And perhaps if you're listening to this podcast, maybe you're anxious to advocate for what you want in your career as a woman professional, or maybe you are going to negotiate your job offer or salary or even a severance package, and it's the first time you're doing it, or, you know, it's just something that you don't do every day. And so there is some anxiety around doing something that you're not very familiar with, understandable. And then there are people like my clients who are experiencing a reorg and they're anxious about making new connections, reestablishing themselves, their thought leadership in a new paradigm that they did not plan, they did not ask for.
And then there are also people who are getting their dream jobs, even in all of the uncertainties that remain and will remain <laugh>, right? Uncertainty is a constant, really, but people are getting hired into their dream jobs. People are getting promotions. And if that's you, it's also understandable that you feel anxious because you're in this new role with bigger responsibilities, and you're anxious to do a good job. And maybe you're kind of like me and you get anxious in the face of things, completely out of your control. Take for example, I live in New York City, and if you've been watching the news this past week, you know that we had an air crisis here in the city this past week. The skies, which are usually clear and blue in June, were blanketed by Canadian forest, fire, smoke, and haze for several days from Tuesday, Wednesday into Thursday.
And it was unsafe to go outside. It was unsafe to breathe, um, outside air, and it really broke my heart. And when I looked outside and instead of the blue sky that I'm so used to seeing, I saw orange thick haze. I felt anxious. I didn't feel good. <laugh> in the face of climate change, inflation, social injustice, uncertainty, anxiety is not a sign that you're doing it wrong. Anxiety is part of the human experience. If you're feeling anxious, it's totally understandable, especially in these unprecedented times. Anxiety can be a sign actually, that you're stepping into growth opportunities. Anxiety can be a sign that you're right on track for what you want, but if you're feeling so much anxiety that it's like at eight or nine out of 10 and you feel debilitated by it, it's not very useful. It's not, it's not really helpful, right?
So I wanna offer you a super, super simple technique that I teach my clients that helps them. Every single one of my clients who have done this technique have told me that they feel calmer, that their anxiety goes down by a notch or two or three when they do this. And because I felt anxious and it totally understandable that people feel anxious, I think I, I know I wanna share this tool with as many people as possible. It's something that I learned directly from Melissa Tears. Melissa Tears is the founder of the Center for Integrative Hypnosis. Yes, Melissa is a hypnotist, <laugh>, and she trains coaches. She trains other hypnotherapist, so she's like the hypnotist of hypnosis <laugh>, uh, did I say that right? Like, she's like the hypnotist, hypnotist, <laugh>. And she, um, taught this to me when I enrolled. And I was, um, learning from her directly in the Integrative Change Worker training program.
You could also learn this, you could also read the book that she wrote. It's called Anti-Anxiety Toolkit. It's a beautifully concise and immensely practical book that sells for only about $10, 10 US dollars on iBooks and Kindle. I highly recommend it. I will link to it in the show notes. So here is the exercise. This is something that I do not recommend that you do while you are driving. It is something that I do practice. However, when I am walking outside, it's some, it's actually, it has a very nice calming effect, and it makes my walk even more enjoyable. So I'm gonna ask you whether you're sitting or walking or commuting, as long as you're not driving, you can do this right now. All right? So try this with me. If you are looking into a screen, or if you're looking at a person, I'm gonna ask you to look away if that's okay.
If, if that's doable for you right now, look away and just find a fixed focal point. Or maybe, maybe if you're walking outside or traveling outside, maybe it's a point out in the horizon for you and just fix your gaze on it, and you're gonna keep your eyes on it throughout this exercise, okay? And with your eyes fixed on that focal point, soften your gaze. And for me, I do this exercise in my home office, and when I do this, I'm looking at this wall in front of me. And so, even though I'm not looking to my sides, when I soften my gaze, I become aware of what is in the periphery of my vision. Not the center, but the periphery of my vision. I become aware of my bookies to the left windows to the right. And so with your eyes fixed on the focal point without moving your eyes, I invite you to shift your awareness to the periphery of your vision. And just notice what you become aware of.
And when my clients do this in the sessions, they tell me they become aware of the ambient noise in the room or the noise outside. They also become aware of other sensory perceptions like the temperature or the wind on their face, or the feel of fabric on their skin. And now, I'm gonna invite you to simply imagine that you can feel the energy of the space behind you and notice what that's like. And if you are inside. Now, you can also imagine that your awareness can go beyond the walls of the room you're in. And if you're outside, imagine that your awareness can go beyond the immediate space around you and into the horizon. What do you become aware of? And if your feet are on the ground, now, imagine that roots are growing out of your feet and helping you be grounded, supported, rooted into the here and now
In Melissa tier's book. This exercise is called Shift Out and Shut Up. And if you, if you've been doing the exercise with me, you can relax your gaze. Now, <laugh>, the exercise portion is done. And in the book, she calls it, shift out and shut up, because you're shifting your awareness. The, you know, you're going to the periphery of your vision or peripheral vision. And what that does is it quiets the critical faculty in your brain. In other words, the voice in your head that's always criticizing and doubting and putting you or other people down, that chatter quiets down. I like to call it the itty bitty shitty committee. And that committee quiets down.
And, and it, what it does is it disengages the sympathetic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system that's associated with fight flight fright. Or, oh, no, excuse me, I did it wrong. It's flight, fight, freeze, or fun, the stress response, right? That's the sympathetic nervous system arousal. And instead, when you do peripheral vision like you just did with me and you, you extend your awareness to beyond. So the space, you know, maybe in and around you. What that does is it engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with rest and digest. And almost without fail, every single one of my clients who've, who have done this technique with me, who've practiced it with me, they tell me, oh, yeah, I feel a little bit calmer. Yeah. And so this is something that I encourage you to practice, whether it is when you notice that you, your mind is going into a, a tailspin, uh, or you just wanna be able to calm your nerves before you go into that presentation, before you, you know, write your, um, your mentor or your manager, and right before you engage in that gutsy conversation or you, you, um, or take action on whatever it is that you want.
Or as I said in my case, just feeling a little bit more calmer in the face of things, that you cannot change the things that are not in your control. You just wanna be able to feel just a little bit more calm in your body. I think this is such a useful, practical and simple, um, exercise, uh, technique. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you practice it, and I will talk to you soon. Okay, before I go, by the way, <laugh>, I just remembered that I did a video demo of another Melissa Tears technique from the book Anti-Anxiety Toolkit. It's really simple. Another one that's very effective. Every single one of my clients who've learned it said, wow, it actually helped me reduce my anxiety. Um, it is called bilateral stimulation. And I will link to that in the show notes with that one.
It does help to see the video of it or read the book. Either way. You have tools, you have options. We do have agency, you know, we do have agency over our anxiety, over how we feel over our lives, over our careers. And I, I just wanna add that sometimes if you feel really, really anxious, sometimes the best thing is not try to do more. Sometimes the best thing is just try to let be to relax, to breathe, to allow, take a pause. And then when you have gained agency, you can pivot, you can decide on new action to take. Okay, I'm gonna wrap this up. I hope you have a beautiful weekend. I hope you really enjoy fresh air. If you have it, blue sky, if you have it, just remember it's such a precious thing that we so often take for granted. And I will talk to you soon. And if you want expert guidance in your corner to help you achieve greater self-confidence and greater career satisfaction as you grow your skills in negotiating, leading, and influencing as a woman professional, I invite you to book your free one-on-one sales call with me to find out how executive coaching can help you do exactly that. The link is in the show notes. Talk soon.