By Felecia O’Neal

When anxiety hits, pay attention to how your body is responding and listen. Hear yourself in the moment for 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or 15 minutes—take the time and pay attention.

Now say to yourself, “I am okay.” Even if you have no idea how, start with these words and give yourself the space to think, “How can I be okay right now?” This space is the start of your Self-Coaching.

My Aha Moment

Driving, I was paying more attention to the clock than the road. Anxiety: my body was warm, my head hurt, and I could hear pounding on the inside of my ears. I was not okay.

In this moment, I was tied to the clock as it turned from 1:45 to 1:46 pm. I was going to be late. I am always late! Where I had to be and where I was at the moment was a distance that would take more than 30 minutes and I was scheduled to be there at 2:00 pm. I only had 15 minutes but I needed a little more time.

My mind went into overdrive as my imagination dictated how disappointed everyone waiting would be. I went the extra mile in my head and began to remember all the times I had let people down. I am always letting people down. I even thought of the situations that had nothing to do with me being late and how this situation confirmed how I am always coming up short.

Then I had an aha! moment, “I am not late right now.” For 14 minutes, I am not late. I am okay. This thought untangled me from the ticking clock, past mistakes, and future worries. I am okay. I used the 14 minutes to think on how I can be okay in this moment and beyond 2pm.

I can’t change past situations but I had 30 minutes to accept that I was going to be late. I also had 15 minutes before anyone would know that I would be late. Right now, I was okay. I used the time to plan out my best scenario and make the best out of my situation.

I was late and yet, I handled the situation perfectly. Were people upset that I was late? Yes, but I worked it out perfectly because I took the time to do so.

The Lesson

Hearing these words I am okay allows the mind to calm and the body to relax. This thought will not solve all your problems but it will help shift you into a space to begin positive self-talk. From this position, self-coaching gives you the power to think more clearly about your situation and your next best scenario.

A Small Self-Coaching Meditation

You have the time to breathe: 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or 15 minutes—take it and breathe.

Say, “I am okay. In this moment, I am okay.” Now, think on something positive about where you are now. The thought might be little or insignificant to your current situation but acknowledge it anyhow as positive. Hold on to that positive thought and repeat, “I am okay.”

Use the positive thought to shine light within your imagination onto what is happening now and ask, “What is my best way forward?” The answer may not come right away and that’s okay because you are okay. Breathe and trust there is a way forward.