The Framework

I’m glad to see so much emphasis on emotional health now days, but I’m concerned at how un-actionable most resources are. We can talk about it, but how do we actually experience change?

We’re self aware, but still the same.

Theory and talking can help us become self aware, but self awareness doesn’t lead to transformation on its own. And I think we intuitively know that, right? We all know self aware jerks. ‘That’s just the way I am,’ they say, but none of us want to work with them.

We’re often all too aware of our triggers and reactivity, but how can we actually change and experience deeper peace, and a profound sense of freedom and love.

I had been studying and practicing Systems Theory, the theory that helped me notice anxiety spreading, for 18 years when I became a lead pastor. All of a sudden the theory wasn’t helping enough. I was overwhelmed most of the time, spun up and reactive. It is as if the role of lead pastor opened up a fire hydrant of pressure and expectation that I could no longer manage.

That is when I realized that I had so go way beyond self awareness and way beyond knowing a theory. I needed to build a path of actionable tools that I could use every day.

That path is what I call Capable Life. I started offering it ten years ago to my staff and the early results were incredible. As I expanded it, I kept refining the tools and steps to make sure it would apply to anyone wanting to go from being managed by reactivity to managing it. Now people from 15+ countries have discovered the freedom that comes with Capable Life.

The framework is actually quite simple:

  1. Identify When You Feel Anxious. You’d think this would be easy but after working with thousands of leaders and parents, I have learned that most of us don’t actually know when we’re anxious until we’re really, really anxious. That is because anxiety spreads until it fully floods us, but learning to notice it early before you’re flooded is key.
  2. Locate the source of anxiety. Anxiety is generated inside us and it also comes at us from others. Some of us even catch it from people even when their anxiety isn’t aimed at us. They’re not ok, so we get anxious! Is the anxiety coming from inside you, at you, is it just in another, but you’re wellbeing is merging into them?
  3. Name it to tame it. Anxiety feels like a giant tangled mess, but by step 3, you are ready to diagnose the source. Anxiety is generated by: assumption and expectation, false belief and false need. Whether it is anxiety from inside you or coming at you, it doesn’t matter. Is it your expectation or the expectation someone is putting on you? Is it something you think you need that you don’t really need?
  4. Sift the sources through the truth. It turns out anxiety sends you a message, a ‘gospel’ but the message is never true. So once you’ve untangled and identified your false need or assumption, you can pause to sift it through the truth and be free from its grip.
  5. Displace Your Anxiety with a life giving habit. Some anxiety can be managed, some needs to be displaced. Anxiety cannot abide the company of love and laughter, so intentionally developing a long list of life giving habits is essential.

I have learned a lot about how to lead myself and others in the midst of anxiety. I think I listen better and sit with people longer and sometimes I even apply those lessons to myself. : ) I commit to continuing with brave practice in implementing what I have learned – especially taking the problem at least as seriously as the other person – I think that’s maybe my favorite and most influential lesson.

Sarah H

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