This post is part of a digital book club of summer camp directors and recreation professionals reading Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. To see all the posts in the series go to our linchpin start page. You are welcome to join in at any time.
Week 6: April 5th – 11th
The Resistance – part 2
In discussing the resistance, Seth Godin connects how an individual’s anxiety contributes to the resistance. One of the ideas I agreed with was his advice on how to stop the spiral of anxiety.
“ The best time to stop the spiral is the very first moment. Taking action at the start, calling it out, recognizing the cycle — this is your first and best chance. Embrace the itch from the start, but don’t scratch it. To do otherwise is to lose all perspective. You can’t make a useful map when you’re busy exaggerating the downside of every option.” Page 139
One of my jobs during the school year is teaching middle school students how to stop the spiral of anxiety. It has proven to become useful at camp working with both staff and campers. For many people, recognizing that what they are experiencing is anxiety is the first task. Learning self-assessment and self-reflection is step one. If you stop reading right now and take a minute to reflect think, “How are you really feeling? What is contributing to that feeling? Do you want to choose a different way?” Once people learn to their internal temperature then they can learn to apply some skills to stop the anxiety spiral.
In the groups I run, we talk a lot about how thoughts affect your feelings, which affect your actions or behavior. Step one is understanding the feeling of being anxious and what physical feelings and emotional feelings are like. As the students learn to understand their thoughts, they can start to reduce their anxiety by challenging those thoughts and gathering evidence as to whether they have a basis in reality. It’s not simply enough just to identify anxious thoughts. You have to also to identify an alternative positive or coping thought. Positive thoughts help a person feel less anxious and contribute to an internal dialogue reduces anxiety. It is a life skill that can be learned but, without practice, is difficult to put into action when it is most needed.
Of course there are some children and adults with anxiety at levels that are beyond what can be managed without medication and/or more intensive care. Seth Godin is of course not talking about anxiety as a mental disorder, but anxiety as part of the resistance preventing you from doing your best work.