We hear many “words” tossed around when we talk about downsizing, moving, or relocating with our customers but we hear one much more frequently than others.
Almost everyone who is going through a move or a relocation has some level of anxiety. Some people have anxiety that completely takes over and leaves them feeling paralyzed. Others feel anxious and don’t even know how their anxiety is impacting them.
We reassure our clients that having anxiety during their move process is completely normal. We also share that if anxiety is not put into check, it causes indecision. Anxiety is a feeling we can manage. Indecision can cause inaction. In these cases, it’s important to understand the WHY behind this occurrence..
According to a study on anxiety at the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh, “anxiety disengages brain cells in a highly specialized manner.” When making decisions, anxiety selectively shuts down certain connections, which makes it more difficult for the brain to screen out irrelevant information and make better decisions. Our pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that deals with consequences, planning and logic) disengages. The pre-frontal cortex usually removes our emotional response by calming the amygdala (the part of our brain that runs on instinct, impulse and fear). Anxiety interrupts that process altogether.
We wonder why it is so difficult to make decisions at the most critical times? We wonder why fear sets in when logic is most needed (and when we just happen to have the most amount of anxiety)?
We are working against a physiological function! It’s a vicious cycle. Anxiety leads to indecision. Indecision leaves you feeling more anxious. Rinse and repeat.
We help our clients manage their anxiety so they can make decisions more easily through the downsizing process. There are many decisions that need to be made during a move so indecision works against the process. We work with our clients to managing anxiety, thus removing the tendencies for indecision.
Following are some key points from Karen Young at HeySigmund.com on how to stop anxiety from taking over your decision making process:
- Understand where the anxiety is coming from. Anxiety can come from past incidents. The emotion that was tied to that incident may have been justified then, but now, it might be just getting in the way. Unwarranted anxiety can promote overly safe decision making. Look for where the anxiety has come from, and by addressing it, its influence on your behavior can be reduced.
- Act as if. It’s completely normal to feel panicked or anxious when you have a big decision or lots of small decisions to make. Anxiety is there to protect you from danger but just because it’s raising the alarm, it doesn’t mean there is any real danger. Try challenging your anxiety by ‘acting as if’ there is nothing to be worried about. This may feel difficult, but the more you do it, the easier it will come. Right now, you’re okay and you will keep being okay. Just “act as if.”
- Just because there are choices, doesn’t mean there is a wrong one. What decision would you make if you knew there wasn’t a wrong one? Often, the way anxiety makes decision-making harder is by tricking us into believing that there will be a right or wrong choice. If you’re feeling stuck between two decisions, it’s very likely that neither decision will be the wrong one. One you make that decision, you’ll start organizing the environment around you to make sure things work out.
- Be guided by what you want, rather than by what you want to avoid. Try shifting your focus. Anxiety tends to rule decision by presenting us with all of the possibles outcomes, particularly the bad ones. Decisions are then made around avoiding what we don’t want, rather than chasing what we do want. What would your decision look like if they were driven by what you want to happen, rather than by what you don’t want to happen?
Try incorporating one or all of these techniques when you feel anxiety could be holding you back from making decisions that could help to move you forward. Remember, anxiety is an emotion that can be managed.