The Art of Being: May 2022

The Art of Being
Deborah Chandler, Ph.D.
May 2022


Change is challenging. It seems the harder we try, the less we succeed. What does it take to change? My mentor told me that humans change in two ways–slowly and more slowly. So to make change we need patience and an evolving plan.

Let’s say we want to change how we eat. We might want to eat less and more carefully, less junk and more quality. We need to acknowledge that feeling full is soothing. Being even slightly hungry leaves us on edge. Further, eating junk food is soothing. Putting these together, changing how we eat makes us anxious. So to change our eating habits, we need an anxiety management plan.

Anxiety is wired into all of us. It’s part of the flight or fight response. Anxiety is unique from straight up fear; anxiety is the anticipation of something bad. Anxiety is always about the future. Tools for managing anxiety help us stay focused on the here and now. We can focus on our breath. Try keeping the amount of time inhaling and exhaling the same duration. Awareness of our breathing is both soothing and distracting.

We can use our minds to remind ourselves that at this moment, all is okay. I might be slightly hungry, but I am okay right now. Another tool for managing anxiety is staying busy, even active. This tool relies upon distraction. Then for high gear management, we can get our heartbeat elevated by exerting ourselves; this effort has the potential to release pleasure hormones called endorphins.

Utilizing these tools to manage anxiety takes a lot of focus and energy. Of course, our focus will not be 100%. This is where patience and flexibility come in. When we fall off our plan, we need to be kind and reasonable with ourselves. If change were so easy there would not be hundreds of books, TV Shows, programs, podcasts dedicated to achieving our goals. When we veer off our path, we need to stop, be kind, and decide when and how will we resume the effort.

Success at changing habits requires smart management, a sense of humor about ourselves, and appreciation for how wonderful we are.