That back page feeling
It's weird how I can sometimes feel suddenly and inexplicably anxious at work. At a cognitive level, I know I have experience and insights that can add value. At emotional and physiological levels, however, I can nevertheless feel that nagging, nervous grip. I want to explore this because I don’t want to fall into avoidance patterns or allow the anxiety to adversely affect my performance.
So I speak with a coach who invites me to think back to a time when I first felt that feeling. My mind drifts back immediately to when I was a child. I took a test known as the 11+. The results of the test would determine whether I would go to a school that I really dreamed of, or to a school that I absolutely dreaded. To fail would have disastrous consequences, or so it felt at the time.
I found the test easy and left the room feeling confident and relieved. When I received the results, however, unbelievably I had failed. The head teacher was so surprised by this result that he challenged the local authority to explain. Apparently, I had inadvertently missed the back page and left it blank. I missed the one thing that turned out to be vital, and I hadn’t even realised it.
And so a question and a conclusion emerged and embedded themselves in my subconscious mind and live with me today. What if I approach a situation confidently now, only to discover that I have missed something critical? What if I inadvertently miss the back page again? The thought is accompanied by the childhood belief that to fail = catastrophe, and the resulting feeling, anxiety.
The coach offers a solution. To vividly imagine myself back in that experience as a child, but this time knowing what I know now as an adult, how things actually turned out. 1 year later, I took the 12+ and passed and finally realised my dream. Failure resulted in disappointment, but it wasn’t the end of the story. The back page was written, and I have the sense it's still being written now.
4/3/2011 05:11:50 am
interesting topic, love how you close it. Wonder though, how does writting the page feels like, and what helps you accomplish writing the page. Remember there were couple of episods in my life with similar experience, but learned nice lessons through feedback people gave me (teachers, friends, peers)over the years, which helped me to overcome the anxiety that I have experienced before doing specific tasks. Thanks for sharing this reflection and enjoy writing your last page :)
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