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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

‘Why do we get anxious?’ [Wise Wednesdays]

We live in interesting times – the VUCA world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Some thrive on uncertainty, others require stability and predictability. Most of us are in between: we like stability but we also get bored if things are too stable. We like a challenge… Legend in the making: Paul hired me to help him uncover his zone of genius and share it with the world. We discovered he has an ability to see the map of “how” to accomplish a goal in a level of detail most people can’t access. His vision is like X-ray glasses that show you all the steps you need to take to go from A to B. At any one point in time, he can draw an algorithm of all your options and the pros and cons for each and what the next steps are. Busy leaders like having him around because they don’t have time to strategise to that level of detail as they're often firefighting. Paul is like their second brain. But all gifts require care so as not to consume us. Paul gets anxious about changes in external factors. Because of the level of detail in which he can see the future unfolding, the minutest variation in conditions have a drastic impact on the plan. Of course, this isn’t specific to him. We all get anxious when our plans are affected. Anxiety isn’t the same as fear. With anxiety, there may be no immediate threat. Only an imagined one in the future. So there is no clear action to take or way to discharge pent up energy. We lie awake at night plagued by something that may never happen… We don’t get anxious because of the future. The future doesn’t exist. We get anxious because of our ability to imagine possible futures.

[Video: Why we get anxious?] Anxiety is the price we pay for our cognitive ability to imagine and be aware of what we have imagined. It’s a tax on consciousness. But Paul knows a way out of anxiety. We’ve spent time refining his approach to self-enquiry and questioning limiting assumptions using the HAPI process. It’s an approach that works well for people like me and my clients. We’re highly rational and need facts and evidence. We need to know which assumptions are faulty to improve our models of reality and even let go of them entirely if they no longer serve us… By the end of our coaching call, Paul had found his way back home. He realised he only needed 5 minutes to adjust his plan and could then enjoy the rest of his day. We sat for a moment reaping the fruit of the deep work: a sense of liberation. Have a great week, Amina p.s. Do you like deep dives to challenge your limiting assumptions? I’m opening a half-day coaching intensive for one person. If you’d like to address the obstacles that are holding you back from being in flow and feeling energised and inspired, this may be for you. If you’d like more details, send me an email with ‘Flow’ in the heading and tell me a little bit about where you are and what you'd like to achieve.

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