Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Anxiety can be thought of as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune,” and experiencing it makes us human. Though we cannot minimize these feelings, we can lessen how we transfer them to others. Rabbi, psychotherapist and author Edwin Friedman says that a well-differentiated person has “clarity about his or her own life goals, and therefore is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about.” This person “can be separate while still remaining connected, and therefore can maintain a modifying, non-anxious and sometimes challenging presence.”
As a regular user of public transit, I was not surprised to hear that city bus drivers have stressful jobs. But I have realized that they are a non-anxious presence on our streets. Though their minds may be racing, they must be calm on the outside, able to transfer people from one place to another, be willing to chat, answer questions patiently, and solve problems with a smile. Therefore, though prohibiting their surrounding situations from impacting their emotions and actions is exceedingly difficult, it is a requirement.
Are you a “non anxious presence” who experiences the highs and lows of life without adding stress to the situation? If so, you are rare and the world desperately needs you.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Whatever our age, gender, philosophy or creed, we desire to do something great with our lives. Edwin H. Friedman says that it may require persistence and patience, but if we are self-differentiated and focused, we will not care what others think.
Before Columbus finally set out to discover the new world, he spent thousands of hours working towards what Friedman called ‘self-differentiation.’ He was training himself to be "head strong" and "ruthless, . . not allow[ing] relationships to get in the way of [his] vision.”
Where are you on the self-differentiation continuum? Are you a quick thinker who decides with the masses and lives with the consequences? Or, are you willing to slow down and make a correct decision, knowing that it will be proven right in due time? If so, have patience with yourself as you practice. It takes time to become defined.