It has been a high anxiety week. For most of us in the United States a winter storm and blizzard of historic proportions took place. At the same time the whole world was watching – as it still is – the unfolding drama in Egypt.
Many news organizations vacillated between the drama that was unfolding internationally as well as the one that was sweeping across the nation domestically.
My wife and I had an intense interest in both of these developments. Since we both grew up in the Midwest, we have many friends and family who were in the path of the monster storm (while we were experiencing mild days in the Pacific Northwest). Considering ourselves world citizens, we were keenly aware that the events unfolding in Egypt may very well shape history.
Early one morning we both admitted that we were experiencing what we called free-floating anxiety. While we were quite aware of the cause of the anxiety (the clinical definition of free-floating anxiety involves the experience of the anxiety without knowing the cause), what to do with it and how to respond became our inquiry.
There was nothing that we could do to either control or even influence the conditions that generated the anxiety.
Understanding the orientations contained in The Power of TED* became essential for choosing how to respond to the situation at hand. In the Problem/Victim Orientation, our focus is firmly on the problems we face. The problems then engage our fear or anxiety. This inner state then leads to reactive behavior, which is typically some form of fight, flight, or freeze.
The reality was there was no form of reacting that we could take that would have any impact on the problems we focused upon.
So, instead, we remembered and chose to shift into the Outcome/Creator Orientation. From this perspective, I silently invoked Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer:”
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
In adopting a Creator Orientation we shifted our focus to the outcomes we wanted to create and remembered that we have the capacity to choose our response to the situation at hand. As for the situation in Egypt, there was nothing we could do but watch and pray.
In regards to the storm, my wife called her widowed mother and talked to her about making preparations and setting up a support system she could call upon if needed. She then called at least twice a day to check in and see how her mom was doing. Gratefully she has weathered the storm just fine.
The human experience is filled with Challengers – those problems we neither caused nor can control – that we still must respond to. As a Creator, the healthiest thing we can do is to put into practice the Serenity Prayer by focusing on what we can change or influence and then to consciously choose our response to that which is beyond our control.