Worry and anxiety are two of the most common feelings that show up during divorce. Why? Because we are unsure about what our future will look like once this relationship is over and that fear shows up through worry and anxiety. The worrisome and anxious thoughts can take hold and we can find ourselves trapped without the ability to move forward, make decisions, trust ourselves, or believe that we can live a good life on the other side of divorce. Listen in as I teach you two simple things you can do immediately when the worrisome anxious thoughts show up, so that you can move out of the spinning thoughts and actually feel peace exactly where you're at right now. What you'll learn in today's episode:
How our brain works when it comes to survival.
The truth about worry and anxiety.
The first simple step to neutralize worry and anxiety.
The second simple step to feel peace in this moment.
The lie that anxiety and worry don't want you to know.
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If you are exhausted from spinning in the worrisome anxious thoughts about what might come after divorce, I can help. You don't have to live your life this way not knowing where to turn and ending each day filled with overwhelm and mental and emotional exhaustion. I can teach you how to handle this so effectively that your worry and anxiety will feel like a distant memory of someone you used to be. Schedule your free consult by clicking here and let's get you started on becoming the new version of yourself.
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Want to know first hand how Karin can help you with your specific problems and create an even better life than when you were married? Click here to schedule a free consult.
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Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome back to Becoming You Again. I’m your host Karin Nelson. I’m a certified divorce confidence coach and this is the podcast where I teach you how to reconnect with yourself, create emotional resiliency and live a truly independent life, so you can have an even better life than when you were married.
Hi, welcome back to the podcast. I hope you are all doing pretty good, and had a nice weekend. I’ve been having some fun on Instagram lately creating some very fun reels. I previously had been very resistant to making reels because I thought you had to know how to dance to make any good reels or tik toks, and here’s the thing; I like to dance, I’m just not very good at it. I like to move my body to whatever the beat is in the music but I wouldn’t say that I’m the most coordinated person when it comes to dancing. But then I realized that you can actually make reels and have them be entertaining and have them be fun and have them be informative and you don’t even have to dance. So I’ve been making reels and it’s been super fun. So if that sounds like something that you want to come and experience with me then you should definitely come follow me on Instagram. You can follow me at @karinnelsoncoaching and watch my silly, fun, sometimes informative sometimes reels. So that is what I’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks. What are you ladies up to? Drop me a DM on Instagram and let me know. I would love to hear what is going on in your lives besides divorce, right?
Okay. So let’s jump into this week’s episode and I really wanted to cover anxiety and divorce because anxiety is very common when it comes to divorce. So I really wanted to dedicate an episode to this topic of anxiety specifically with divorce and give you some guidance to help you cope with the anxiety and the worry that often shows up as you are going through a divorce.
I’ve been reading this amazing book by Russell Kennedy called Anxiety Rx. Rx we all know stands for prescription and so it is basically like saying this is the anxiety prescription. And I am going to be teaching some things that he talks about in this book, and also some things that I use with my coaching clients as well as I go throughout this podcast.
I’ve talked about this before in previous podcasts but one of our brain’s main functions is survival. To keep us safe and alive. And long ago during our ancestor’s days survival meant being on high alert for anything that might harm you. You are looking around. You are scanning. Uh oh, did that bush move over there? That could mean there’s a predator, let’s get somewhere safe. The brain was always scanning for danger and then being rewarded for being fearful because that fear is what kept you alive. Dr. Kennedy also talks about this same idea in his book and he calls it the fear bias. He talks about how in modern times, like today, we still have this function of our brain and its job is to keep us alive, but because we don’t have the same types of danger and threats (for the most part anyway), our fear bias has gone from protecting us from a real threat and has morphed into a worry bias that is designed to protect us from imagined threats. And that is the difference here, right?
Now of course, fear is still something that is helpful to us in the modern day, of course. Like if we are hiking in Alaska and there is a bear chasing us that fear is going to kick in and keep us as safe as possible, right? Or if we are walking down an alley by ourselves at night or not even an alley, just a dark street, and we hear someone come up behind us walking and we are alone our fear bias is definitely going to kick in to try and keep us safe. So I’m not saying that this fear thing is bad and terrible and it should not be a part of her lives. Of course, it still is there to protect us. But we just do not have as much worry when it comes to our own survival in today’s day and age that we did, our ancestors did years and years and years ago – thousands of years ago. And as Dr. Kennedy is talking about this in his book he is mentioning that it has now morphed into this worry bias that is now trying to protect us but it is protecting us from things that are imagined. They are not real threats. But our brain thinks that it is real. And this is a really interesting dynamic because the more we worry and the more we believe that this worry is protecting us from something that might happen in the future, what’s actually going on is we are threatening our own emotional wellbeing because worry leads to more worry which creates more anxiety which creates pain for us in our lives right now in the moment.
Now if you are a worrier or if you have anxiety I don’t want you to think that there is something wrong with you, because there isn’t. There’s truly nothing wrong with you. Your brain is working perfectly actually. It is doing exactly what it has been evolutionarily primed to do which is to keep you safe and keep you alive. But the worry and the anxiety is also causing you unnecessary pain and so I want to help you control your worry and your anxiety to a greater degree so that you can feel less emotional pain moving forward especially as you are dealing with your divorce.
When you are experiencing anxiety what’s really happening is you are having a lot of thoughts, which is what the brain does right – it gives us lots of thoughts. All day long. So many that we can’t even register or recognize most of them. Right? But with anxiety you are having lots of thoughts about the future – about what might happen, about what could happen, about what you think is possibly going to happen – and then what naturally occurs is you give meaning to this story that you made up in your head of what might happen by looking at the past and what has occurred previously in your past. Those two things combined, the past experience with the future story, that creates anxiety and worry which leads to a feeling of alarm happening inside your body. And then all of that creates often a feeling of incapacitation, a feeling of stuck, a feeling of I cannot move forward from this. I don’t know what to do. It’s that vibration of alarm inside your body that causes so much physical pain and that is mixed with the thoughts of worry and the anxious thoughts about the future and you feel trapped and unable to move past the worry and past that anxiety.
So let me give you an example of what this might look like. Let’s say you’re in the middle of your divorce. Your ex wants to sell the house and split the money, but you are living in the house and you are feeling anxious about what might happen if you have to leave. So as you’re thinking about selling the house your brain offers you all kinds of thoughts like it’s going to be really hard to find a place to live, especially one that is going to be big enough for me and the kids to be comfortable. Rent is really high right now so it’s going to be difficult to pay for rent. I’m going to have to find a second job to help cover the rent costs and then I’m not going to be able to see my kids as much. My ex is going to be living this great, fun, amazing life because he makes way more money than I do and I’m going to be stuck working constantly, I’m never going to see my kids. I’m going to be living in this apartment that I hate and my life is going to be the worst.
Do you see how your brain will just offer you this story of what’s probably going to happen in the future when you sell the house? This is what anxiety and worry does. None of these things are actually true. None of these things have actually happened. They may or may not come to pass. And yet, your brain offers you this story and you believe it like it’s truth. Like it has already happened. And the more you worry about it, the more we bring up proof from the past that it’s going to be like this and the more the cycle continues and then the worse you feel because your body is going to this crazy alarm sensation and your brain continues in this loop of worry and anxious thoughts that you take at face value without questioning any of it.
When I worked with Karin Nelson as my divorce coach I worked on myself from the inside out. Best of all, I learned to love and forgive myself through my divorce. I found me again and started putting my needs first. I learned to create healthy boundaries without people pleasing or being codependent. I found my confidence again and I am proud of who I’ve become. I would tell any woman who is going through a divorce that if you are struggling to know who you are or if you’re struggling to believe that your life can be good again, then you need to work with Karin as your coach. She helps you see that your life doesn’t end with divorce, and it’s really the beginning of something new and amazing. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, click the link in the show notes to find out more about how to work with Karin Nelson.
The first step out of this anxious worrisome cycle is recognizing that these worries are, as Dr. Kennedy calls them, ‘intrusive thoughts’. Now what does intrusive meaning? It means uninvited. So basically these thoughts, they just showed up. Nobody invited them to come in. They are not true. But they don’t want to leave. They are intrusive. If you have a thought about something that you don’t believe, it’s not going to cause any worry or anxiety. But it’s when you have belief that this is what’s going to happen, that’s when your thought becomes intrusive.
Now recognizing that worries or thoughts are intrusive is easier said than done. I get that. Especially if the belief is tied to our self worth or to our belief that we are capable of creating something different in the future, as we move into the future, right. And so this is really common for women going through a divorce because often we have a low self esteem. We don’t think that we are capable of creating a great life after divorce as we are living on our own. We don’t trust ourselves to make good decisions or to be able to pay the bills effectively or to be able to raise the kids and live in the house and pay the bills and do all of the things that we think it takes to be a good mom, right? So it can feel tricky to recognize when a thought is worrisome and intrusive. But it’s really important that you start to be onto yourself. Be onto your brain and be onto your thoughts. When you notice that you’re worrying and feeling anxious an easy step that you can do is to say out loud, these are intrusive worries. They’re not real. They’re not invited. And saying this out loud can help diffuse the anxious cycle from spinning out of control. So I really want you to try that the next time you start to notice you are having worrisome thoughts or anxious thoughts, okay. Just say out loud, these are intrusive worries. These are intrusive thoughts. They are not real. And I want you to recognize how it’s going to diffuse the situation.
Now because worry and anxious thoughts live in the future, one of the most beneficial things that you can do for yourself in these moments is to bring yourself into the present moment. When you catch yourself worrying, ask yourself these two questions. “Where am I right now?” and “Am I safe in this moment?” These two questions are very powerful because they will bring you into the present which will neutralize your worry and it will help you realize that you are safe in your body right now in this moment. Now that moment might only last for one minute or it might be 24 hours or it might be the complete next week. But being aware of yourself in the moment and actually feeling safe in your body and recognizing that you are safe, it will create peace in the moment for you which is what you want most.
And here’s the biggest lie that anxiety tries to tells you. Anxiety wants you to think that if all of these worried did come true, then it truly will be the worse because you won’t be able to handle any of it. And that right there is the lie. If all of the things that I talked about in the example came true and you moved into an apartment that was small and you had to get a second job and all of the things, you would figure it out. Your worry and anxiety have you believing that you are not capable of rising to the occasion when hard things occur, but I want to know something. Hear me when I tell you this. You are way stronger than you believe yourself to be. This is something that I reiterate to my clients over and over again is their strength and ability to problem solve and handle challenges is incredible. They’ve just forgotten or maybe never realized how capable they truly are at handling challenges that they are faced with. And you are too. I promise you that. You are so much more capable than you give yourself credit for. It is time to start to recognize that. Don’t let anxiety and worry lie to you about this anymore.
And I want to add for anyone listening who has struggled with anxiety and worry their entire life, or if you are clinically diagnosed with anxiety. You are especially infinitely stronger than you give yourself credit for. Because you are someone who often has anxious, intrusive thoughts and still shows up in your life. It’s like you’re carrying around a 50 pound backpack full of worry and anxiety while you’re doing the scary, hard thing that you are afraid of. That you are worried about. That you are having anxiety about. And you are still doing it. So if this is you – I want you to see how strong you truly are and how capable you truly are and how in this moment right now everything is okay and you are safe.
As you go through your divorce and you start to notice the worrisome, anxious thoughts showing up, because they will, right? We know they’re going to show up. I want you to do these two things. Remember, number one is label the thoughts as intrusive worries, and remind yourself that they are not invited to the party in your head. That is going to diffuse the situation. Okay? And the second step is you’re going to step into the present moment. Ask yourself, “Where am I right now?” and “Am I safe in this moment?” These techniques are going to help you create some much needed peace in moments during your divorce.
There are definitely other things that can be helpful if you really struggle with the emotional and physical pain that anxiety and worry bring as you go through your divorce. And this is something that I go deep with when I’m working with my clients and I can help you too. So if this sounds like something you want to know more about then I want you to click the link in the show notes and schedule your free 30 minute consult with me and we’ll talk more about it.
That’s it for today. Have a great rest of your week. I love you all so much. I will talk to you soon.
If you like what you heard on today’s podcast and you want to know more about working 1:1 with me, you can go to www.karinnelsoncoaching.com and schedule your free consult to find out more. That’s www dot Karin nelson coaching dot com.
Thanks for listening. If this podcast episode agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow, rate and leave a comment. And for more details make sure to check out the show notes by clicking the link in the description.