How to Make a Decision When You’re Freaked Out


Francie came in on overload. She was anxious and paralyzed. Outwardly she was performing her job and going through the motions in her personal life, but? inwardly she was close to the edge. Those darn emotions, the pain, the loss of control. They were so strong, so intense that she had started to cut herself, something she hadn’t done in months and months. The cutting was an indisputable sign that things had gone too far and Francie sent out a SOS.

Francie had given notice at her stressful accounting job and looked forward to crewing with her boyfriend for the winter around the Caribbean. But now things were developing. She wasn’t so sure she wanted to be so isolated and on a boat far away with her rollercoaster guy.  And the boss (who hadn’t found a replacement half as competent as she was) now was asking her to reconsider, having finally made some of the changes she’d been suggesting for months.

RX – Solution

Francie needed to honor her emotions before she could think clearly and decide what she wanted to do. She had been crying tons so she was expressing her sadness. At this moment she was feeling angry because things seemed like they’d been settled and had felt so right. But now the tides had turned with the boss and with her boyfriend. Francie was also feeling a lot of fear. She was afraid she would make the wrong decision. Afraid she couldn’t decide. Afraid of her emotions.

During our therapy session, Francie stood up and shivered for a good minute, all through her body, like a dog at the vet’s office. Then she pounded on a pile of old telephone books with a flexible plastic hose for about three or four minutes. When she was exhausted, Francie sat back down on the couch and talked for a couple of minutes. Then she got up and shivered again, followed by more pounding, using both arms and few words. Francie repeated this routine two more times, and then ended her emoting phase with a last dose of shivering.

As her body was recuperating from all the energy she had expended, Francie spontaneously said the following, which I wrote down:  I’ll figure this out in its time. It will all be okay. It’s not the end of the world.

Pretty cool shift.

She was then ready to make a specific action plan. In this case, her plan was to wait until Monday and see what developed over the weekend. She was confident that she could and would make a solid decision. We made another appointment.


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