Recently at work I encountered a problem that I could not a solve. A client was making untrue claims, and while I personally could not refute them we had evidence that they were not true. The client would contact me regularly saying how unfair it was and ask me to resolve the issue for them. The issue stressed me out for weeks as I a.) did not know what to do and b.) couldn’t solve it.
After working with my team we finally decided to contact our lawyer.
One of the best days of my year so far was answering the client’s questions with: “please direct all of your questions/concerns to our lawyer.”
Now, this is my favorite sentence to say.
Whenever someone is just burdening me with things they want me to solve that I cannot solve: “please contact my lawyer.”
But mostly I use this line on my anxiety.
There are so many tricks and coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety (I feel like I know most of them) but the underlying message of all of them is: do not engage with it. If you can just see your anxiety for what it is and let it float on by, you will be well on your way to changing your relationship with it. Which is so easy to write, and so incredibly difficult to do. When the anxiety is “bad” I have full fledged conversations with it. I become very entangled, until I can no longer separate myself from it.
The thing is, my anxiety is very smart. It knows me. Knows what will get a reaction from me. Knows what will move me. I picture it as a ferocious detective so hellbent on finding evidence that everything is wrong — that it finds that evidence when it doesn’t even exist.
What was so stressful about the client’s issue that I could not resolve and my anxiety that I could not resolve is– I kept engaging with. I thought, “maybe they’re right. maybe they’re telling the truth.” And– maybe they are. But it is above my pay-grade. So instead of taking in everything the anxiety has to say, I simply notice when it rises up, maybe listen to the first sentence of their statement, and then say, “please direct all concerns to my lawyer.”