Can I Make Anxiety Behave? With Sissy Goff [Episode 290]

Make Anxiety Behave Sissy Goff

Anxiety has an amazing ability to spread. Sometimes, it can be downright contagious!

Just ask our guest on today’s podcast, author and veteran counselor Sissy Goff. Because time and time again, whenever Sissy had an anxious child or teen in her office, she found they had at least one very well-intentioned but anxious parent.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Well, if you deal with anxiety, you know how consuming it is. It distracts you in the present and makes you feel like it will define your whole future. But it’s possible you didn’t realize how it affects your people.

So today, we’re talking to Sissy about how to stop the spread of anxiety!

First, she’ll help you sort out what you’re really experiencing, like if it’s truly anxiety, a state of worry, or just a deep concern for the things you care about. You’ll learn three questions to ask yourself to help you know if your worry has morphed into anxiety.

Then she’ll give you practical, well-researched tools to make your anxiety behave! What she shares will make such a big difference in your life and the lives of the people you love, so I can’t wait for you to hear it.

It’s time to stop spreading anxiety and make peace contagious instead.

Meet Sissy

Sissy Goff has been the director of child and adolescent counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministries since 1993. She speaks to parents and children’s ministers across the country and is a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC Nightly News, CNN, Good Morning America, and Family Life Today, to name just a few. She’s written 13 books including her latest, The Worry-Free Parent, and co-hosts the Raising Boys and Girls Podcast.

[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below. Then check out the links below for more helpful resources.]

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Episode Transcript

4:13 Podcast: Can I Make Anxiety Behave? With Sissy Goff [Episode 290]

Sissy Goff: Statistically, it's now impacting one in three adults, with women twice as likely as men. It's also impacting one in three kids, with girls twice as likely. And I think the confusing thing about anxiety is often we use it to function. We believe it makes us better human beings. For parents, it makes us better parents. And we're not aware of the impact that anxiety has around the people that we love in terms of the ability it has to spread and the things that it changes about who we are in the moment.

Jennifer Rothschild: Anxiety has an amazing ability to spread. It is downright contagious. And if you're dealing with it, it's likely affecting your people, distracting you in the present, and making you feel like it will define your whole future. But how do you know if it's anxiety, or maybe it's just worrying? Well, today on The 4:13, author and counselor Sissy Goff is going to give you three questions to ask yourself, and your answers will help you know if your worry has morphed to anxiety. You are about to get practical, well-researched tools that are going to make a huge difference in your life and in the lives of the people you love. You can make anxiety behave. So it's time to stop spreading anxiety and make peace contagious instead.

Here we go, K.C.

K.C. Wright: Welcome, welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and Biblical wisdom set you and I up to live the "I Can" life, because -- here's truth -- you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Now, welcome your host, Jennifer Rothschild.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hi, our friends. Welcome back. We're so glad you're with us. We really do know that you are on the other side of these microphones, and we think of you and we pray for you. My name is Jennifer. And if we're new friends, my goal is to help you be and do more than you feel capable of as you're living the "I Can" life of Philippians 4:13.

And you heard my Seeing Eye Guy. That's K.C. Wright. And we always say it's two friends here in the podcast closet --

K.C. Wright: That's right.

Jennifer Rothschild: -- dealing with one topic and zero stress.

But listen, we specifically prayed this morning for one of you named Carol.

K.C. Wright: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: Now, if there's lots of you named Carol, well, you just got in on the prayer. But there's one particular Carol from Jacksonville who sent something to us. Well, really to K.C. It's the funnest thing ever. So, K.C., you need to read a little bit of Carol's note, if you can. I know your eyes are older this year than they were last year.

K.C. Wright: Ooh.

Jennifer Rothschild: Give it your best shot.

K.C. Wright: It says, "Dear Jennifer and K.C." Well, first of all, this is a lovely card with Jeremiah 29:11 on it.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, nice.

K.C. Wright: We've got to add the details. Okay? "Jennifer and K.C., thank you for your ministry. I found the 4:13 Podcast recently. It has been such a blessing to me to listen to from work and on my walks -- to and fro from work and on my walks. For many years I would call my sweet mama and tell her how my days were, and she moved" -- her mom moved to be with the Lord in January. And she says, "I miss our talks, but I know she loves that I have replaced our talks with something so positive," which is our podcast.

Jennifer Rothschild: Can you believe that? I love that.

K.C. Wright: "Thank you for allowing the Lord to be seen through you. In Him, Carol from Jacksonville, Florida. K.C., when I heard you had a Jeep, I had to send a duck. My son-in-law is a Jeep owner, so I ducked him as well."

Now, if you don't know -- if you have a Jeep, you know this. But people put little ducks on your Jeep when you're out and about.

Jennifer Rothschild: I think that is such a cool thing.

K.C. Wright: And so it's like you come out of Walmart and you have three or four Jeeps on your door handle and you've been ducked.

Jennifer Rothschild: No. You have three or four Jeeps on your door handle?

K.C. Wright: Ducks.

Jennifer Rothschild: You have three or four ducks on your door handle, yes.

K.C. Wright: Well, actually -- no. You can actually I'm going to get Jeeped now too, because they've replaced the duck with the Jeep. But that's another story.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, okay. All right.

K.C. Wright: But, no, it's the traditional duck.

Anyway, she mailed me a little yellow duck, and it says, "Jesus Loves You," which I didn't even know they made these.

Jennifer Rothschild: No.

K.C. Wright: So that's my favorite duck, and it'll go inside my Jeep this very day. Thank you, Carol. So sweet.

Jennifer Rothschild: It's an evangelistic duck.

K.C. Wright: That's right.

Jennifer Rothschild: That just quacks me up. Oh, my gosh. Sorry. Sorry. Okay. That's enough out of us.

Anyway, the point is this. Carol, that was so thoughtful that you ducked K.C.

K.C. Wright: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: I love that. I do, I love that. I don't take ducks, but you can send me dark chocolate.

All right. Now, let's move on. Y'all, I say this all the time, because truly we only have guests with us who, you know, I just think are solid as a rock and I'm crazy about. But this one today, I just got to say, like, she doesn't know this, but we are BFF. Like, I have a crush on her. I am her new best friend. And as soon as she tunes in and realizes it, like, you will see us everywhere together. I love her.

And by the way, her name is Sissy Goff. Most people think she's related to Bob Goff, but she's not. Okay, so I asked her about this before this conversation you're about to hear. I said, "Oh, so are you married to" -- and she goes, "No. I get that all the time." She said, "But I actually am related to Bob Goff."

K.C. Wright: Oh.

Jennifer Rothschild: Her dad was named Robert Goff.

K.C. Wright: Oh.

Jennifer Rothschild: So no relation to the Bob Goff that we're all thinking of, but, yeah. So isn't that cool?

Anyway, let's introduce her so y'all will fall in love also. She's about to be your BFF too. But just so you know, I'm her favorite BFF. I'm just kidding.

K.C. Wright: Sissy Goff has been the Director of Child and Adolescent Counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministry since 1993. Sissy speaks to parents and children's ministers across the country and is a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC Nightly News, CNN, Good Morning America, and Family Life Today, just to name a few. She's written 13 books, including her latest called "The Worry-Free Parent," and she co-hosts The Raising Boys & Girls Podcast. What a gifted gal. I'm so excited you're going to hear this great and rich conversation. So if you don't know Sissy yet, you're about to know her and meet your new BFF. All right? Here's Jennifer and Sissy.

Jennifer Rothschild: All right, Sissy. In your book, you write that anxiety is contagious. And, like, I intuitively know that's true. So let's start with this. First of all, would you please define what anxiety actually is and then tell us why it spreads so easily. Why is it so contagious?

Sissy Goff: Yes. Yeah, so anxiety -- here's my definition. And because I work so much with kids, I've kind of boiled it down to being really simple. But I think all of us in this day and time worry, and probably most of us deal with anxiety from time to time. But the way I think of it is that we all have hundreds of what are considered intrusive thoughts every single day. If I'm not anxious, that thought's going to come into my mind, worst-case scenario, I really botched that kind of thought, and it's going to go right back out. If I have anxiety, the thought comes in and it gets stuck. With kids, I talk about it being like the one-loop roller coaster at the fair, and it just circles back around and around and around, which especially for parents, it is so easy to get stuck in those worried, anxious, worst-case scenario thoughts about your kids. So that's kind of the layperson's definition that I use regularly in my office.

Now -- I already forgot the second part of your question. What was it?

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, that's okay. But I like that you defined it with the simplicity of a child, because that's how Jesus taught. And let's just be honest, that works for all of us. We all need the simplicity.

Sissy Goff: That's so true.

Jennifer Rothschild: But what I was also asking is -- and that's on me to ask a compound question, because I get it. I'm married. Like, I don't tell my husband two things at once because I only expect one to get done.

Okay. But the second part of that question was, because you say that anxiety is contagious, tell me why that's true. Like, why can one person have anxiety and then suddenly the room becomes anxious?

Sissy Goff: You know, I think we've all sensed that with other people when we sit with anxious people. And it's something I experience in my counseling office all the time. And it's almost as if one person -- well, it's a little bit like if you have ever lived in a dorm or a sorority house and one person starts their period and all of a sudden everybody's on their period.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. Yes.

Sissy Goff: I don't totally understand it from a scientific standpoint other than the part of our brain that takes over when we're anxious is the amygdala that's the fight or flight region of our brain. And I think there is something about the amygdala that speaks to another person. Which is why parents will say, you know, "I don't know what was going on, but all of a sudden my child started spinning out and they were acting like a crazy person," which is because the reasoning, rational part of their brain is not even getting blood when the amygdala's taken over. So they'll say, "They were acting like a crazy person and then I jumped on board right with them." And that's exactly what happens.

And so our brains speak to each other, from heredity standpoint it's passed on. We have mirror neurons that are literally mirroring each other. There's so many ways that it's passed on, sadly.

Jennifer Rothschild: Ooh. Okay. So we're just, like, all thermometers and thermostats all at once when it comes to anxiety. And I think that's --

Sissy Goff: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: -- kind of an interesting way to recognize it. Because sometimes it's so pervasive that we don't notice it, you know?

Sissy Goff: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: So I have recognized the older I get, too -- it's not like anxiety is something you grow out of. Like, it knows no age, it knows no gender. So I'm curious, in your opinion, is there a common denominator among, like, all people who battle anxiety?

Sissy Goff: I love that you said that, because yes. And I experienced it -- it was fascinating -- first with kids. And every child that I had come in to see me of any age, I would sit with them. And I could tell they were really bright, and then I would meet with the parents and they would say, Oh, my child is off the charts in terms of brilliance. And not just from a parent perspective, but really off the charts. And they said, They're really conscientious, they're trying hard, they care so much. And that, Jennifer, is exactly what I've experienced with every kid over the years.

And when I started thinking about parents, the same is true for parents. The same is true for you. Any of us who deal with anxiety, it's because we're really bright, we care so much, we're trying so hard, things matter to us so deeply, and it's just hard to turn the volume knob down on all that caring. So it's a really beautiful part of who God made us to be, it just gets flipped upside down sometimes.

Jennifer Rothschild: I've never heard that, Sissy. Like, my mind was flitting through my experience, those that I know, and you nailed it. I mean, that is so true.

Sissy Goff: Isn't that interesting?

Jennifer Rothschild: It's very interesting.

Sissy Goff: I know. I don't think we talk about it enough. Because I think we end up being angry with ourselves about it rather than seeing these beautiful parts.

Jennifer Rothschild: And that's why I appreciate it so much. Because I do think you're right, we scold ourselves, we shame ourselves, we think something's wrong with us, but really it's just the darker side or potential of that beautiful thing. Yeah, because you're right -- I was also thinking, Sissy, there's people I know who don't give a flying flip about anything, and they have no anxiety ever. Ever.

Sissy Goff: Isn't that the truth? Maybe it'd be nice to have a little bit of that every once in a while.

Jennifer Rothschild: A little bit of -- yeah. Okay. I really appreciate that. That's really a good word.

So here's another question then, because you mentioned parents. So how does anxiety actually show up in parents, and then how does their anxiety impact their kids? Like, they may have an easy-going kid, but they're an anxious parent. How's that going to affect their kids?

Sissy Goff: Well, you know, one of the primary ways I'm seeing it show up right now -- and I want to say, you know, I've been doing this work for 30 years and I have never heard as many parents who feel defeated, as discouraged, as much like failures, and to be really honest, as angry with themselves. And I think I would want any parent -- any person -- I don't think it's just true about parents. I think any of us who are struggling with anger from time to time, I think it's the same idea we were just talking about. I mean, if you picture a parent trying to get out the door to school, screaming at their child on the way out, it is often because that parent realizes the child's already had three tardies, a fourth means they have to go to Saturday school, they're going to miss the birthday party they wanted to go to so badly, and so all of that is tucked away deeply inside of that parent. And really, they're angry because they want good things for their kids.

And I think that's one of the ways that anxiety shows up, is -- and often it's starting with an anger at ourselves. But the reality is the way we talk to ourselves is inevitably going to spill over into the lives of the kids we love.

Jennifer Rothschild: Ooh, that's such a good hard word.

Sissy Goff: Well, I sure experience it myself too. And I think that's really what my hope is that parents hear anytime we're talking about anxiety, is there's a lot of grace in this. And I think when we can even back up and say the reason this is coming out right now is because I want really good things for my child, it's because I care about them so much.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Sissy Goff: I think we could respond very differently just from that perspective.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Yeah, just to be able to get to the root and look at the root first instead of always trying to just deal with all that fruit. Which is what we tend to do, react to the fruit.

Sissy Goff: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: So here's one thing I was curious as you're describing that. Is there a relationship between fear, worry, and anxiety?

Sissy Goff: Yes. And I think that's where it gets tricky, because -- I mean, all of us have fear. I'm afraid of spiders. But I'm only afraid if I think a spider is near me. If I'm just thinking about a spider, it doesn't register in my body. Worry is more pervasive. Again, I think any of us who are functional human beings in this day and time, worrisome. And I think anxiety is -- well, statistically, it's now impacting one in three adults, with women twice as likely as men. It's also impacting one in three kids, with girls twice as likely.

And I think the confusing thing about anxiety is often we use it to function. We believe it makes us better human beings, for parents, it makes better parents, and we're not aware of the impact that anxiety has around the people that we love in terms of the ability it has to spread and the things that it changes about who we are in the moment.

Jennifer Rothschild: Then there may not be -- this may be anecdotal, but do you have an opinion or have you read the reason that it's more pervasive with women, moms, girls, than it is for men, dads, boys?

Sissy Goff: Yes. Well, I mean, for kids -- I don't want to call any grownups out. But I think for kids, what my experience in my office is, that I believe girls have never felt as much pressure to perform in every single aspect of life. You know, I sit with girls that I'm meeting with who -- 98 is not okay, 100's not even okay on a test. They've got to make 104. They've got to get their personal record every time they run in any kind of track meet. In everything they feel the pressure to be excellent.

And what research would tell us is that today, girls have never cared more, boys have never cared less in a lot of different areas of life. Now, that's not true, obviously, about every boy. But I do think the pressure to perform and please has just skyrocketed among girls. And I would venture to say women too. And, you know, the hard thing, Jennifer, is if we were going to look at the research, it would say not only are girls more prone to dealing with anxiety, but girls are taken in for treatment less than boys to get help. Isn't that fascinating?

Jennifer Rothschild: Really? Now, that is fascinating. Maybe it's because that mom is the one dragging the boy in, and the mom is telling the girl to buck up because she's so used to having it.

Sissy Goff: Yes, I think that's certainly a part of it. And I think -- just as we were talking about before, I think boys tend to get more explosive. Often with their anxiety, it comes out as anger. And for girls, I think girls just knuckle down. And they're the ones at parent-teacher conferences that the teacher is saying, I wish every child in my class acted just like your daughter, and we're unaware that anxiety is driving it. And I think all of that we could honestly overlay into us as women, too, that we're doing a lot of the same things.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, I can see that. I remember, Sissy, when our youngest son was in elementary school, he was more driven than our oldest son, and he wanted to have perfect attendance. He just thought that was the be all, end all. I cannot tell you how happy I was when he got sick the second week of school. I was like, wooh, we don't have to try for that one anymore because of the pressure. And that's a small thing.

Sissy Goff: It's too much.

Jennifer Rothschild: But I think we -- it is. It is. And as grownups, too, we all do it. We can focus on the wrong thing with -- and it's the dark side of the best parts of us.

So you also write in your book that we all worry to some degree. You just mentioned that. And so how do we know if our worries are okay, like, acceptable, or if they are veering towards something that is more chronic, like anxiety?

Sissy Goff: You know, I think that one-loop roller coaster is definitely going to be a picture for us. But I would say -- I would ask parents three questions, ask any of us three questions. And one is, do you feel like your emotion is bigger than the situation warrants regularly? Because I think often anxiety is at the root of that.

Number two, do you have thoughts that feel more circular or linear? So are you stuck in that loop? Do you find yourself just ruminating on different things, even to the degree that pulls you out of the moment? Because anxiety resides in the past and the future, not in the present moment. So it feels like you're distracted with your thoughts a lot rather than moving toward action.

And three, do your thoughts cause you to be more possessive or progressive? And I would say that one is particularly true for parents. Does it cause you to hold more tightly and pull them back? Because the two most common parenting strategies in light of anxiety are escape and avoidance. So are you rescuing your kids? Are you pulling them out? Are you pulling back yourself and not doing the hard things? Or are you being progressive? Are you letting the people you love develop more independence, more resilience? Are you putting yourself in harder situations? Because everything that any person who works with folks who are anxious would say is to get over our anxiety, we have to do the scary thing. And the same It's true for kids.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. So you just kind of touched on something that I was planning to ask you, and I think you just answered it. I was going to ask you about the two biggest coping mechanisms that especially parents fall into, and that is evidently that escapism or avoidism. Is that about correct?

Sissy Goff: Yes. Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay.

Sissy Goff: Exactly.

Jennifer Rothschild: So tell me why they don't work and why they exacerbate the situation.

Sissy Goff: Well, so at this -- I don't even know how many books I've read about anxiety at this point, because I've written several books about it. And the definition I came up with, that again is kind of a layperson's definition, but it's -- anxiety is an overestimation of the problem and an underestimation of ourselves. So if a child is facing something hard, we step in and pull them out, we're basically furthering that definition. Yeah, you're right, it was too big, it was too hard, and you were too small. Now, that is never the message we would intend to give to a child or to someone we love, but that's, in fact, what they hear. Well, my mom didn't think I could do it because she stepped in and did it for me, or she rescued me in that moment.

And the hard thing is -- I mean, I think especially for anxious kids, anxious kids can be some of the most manipulative kids I ever encounter. And it's because they're like a drowning victim. You know, they feel like survival depends on not having to do the hard thing, when, in fact, it's really what they need. And so it's going to feel confusing and tough because it feels like good parenting is to rescue them because they seem to be in such distress. But good parenting, in fact, is giving them the tools to work towards doing the hard things. It's having the tools ourselves to work towards doing the hard things, and doing those in front of them.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. I am a real fan of your work and your message, Sissy --

Sissy Goff: You're so good, Jennifer.

Jennifer Rothschild: -- and I'm recommending not just this book, but all the others. Because I know there's some parents listening right now and some, you know, just human adults who are like, oh, I just realized something I didn't know before. You can trust Sissy's work to guide you through this.

And in this book, you say that past hurts mixed with present pressures -- okay, I'm going to repeat that. You say that past hurts mixed with present pressure will impact the future. So unpack that for us.

Sissy Goff: You know, I read something when I was doing this research that made me laugh, that I think is so true, that said if it's hysterical, it's historical. So if we -- not hysterical funny. Maybe that too. But if we get hysterical and have that big of emotion, it's pulling something back from our past. And I think -- you know, we could talk about all the origins of anxiety, but, I mean, there certainly is a genetic component. I mean, that is -- I can't say that enough. But the reality is none of us were raised -- and I think I'm probably older than you. But we were not raised with parents who were having these rich emotional conversations, most of us.

Jennifer Rothschild: No. Right.

Sissy Goff: We weren't passing feelings charts around the dinner table, which is something I recommend all the time. And so I think we are flying blind. And a lot of ways too, what is at the root? That was a great word you said before, what's at the root of all the things that are happening? And I think to really be able to understand and shift our perspective, shift the way we engage, not with the people we love only, but with the world, we've got to uncover some of how we got here.

And I think for anybody that's listening that's older, I would say it's never too late to start that. And I think the end of digging down and trying to figure out, okay, what's coming back from my past? What pressure am I living under now? Because like we talked about, we are living in a world that is too much for all of us in terms of pressure. As I look at both of those things, I'm going to experience so much more freedom in the present, and that's what we want for everybody.

Jennifer Rothschild: That's so good. You reminded me with what you said about the world being too much, John Eldredge talks about the importance of benevolent detachment just from our current world that's going on.

Sissy Goff: I love that, Jennifer.

Jennifer Rothschild: Isn't that a good phrase?

Sissy Goff: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: It's loving yourself enough to pull back. You don't have to know everything about everybody all the time and have the whole world's anxiety served up to you through CNN every minute of the day. And so even that little bit, that is not dealing with our own history, but, you know, that's just the world around us doesn't make it easy to deal with anxiety.

Sissy Goff: Yes. Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: All right, so let's go back to parents. Because you tell parents to let go of the bottom 20%. And I love this idea, so I want you to tell us what you mean by this.

Sissy Goff: Well, you asked about the ways anxiety impacts parents earlier, and I don't know that I answered that. But one of the ways is that anxiety makes us micromanage. You know, when we can't control the big things, we tend to really lock down on the little ones. And so that feels like the definition of parenting in so many ways, you can't control the big things, and so it's so easy to hone in and really lock down on the little things.

And so I will say to parents -- and actually it came from an experience I had in my counseling office where -- you know, I think, too, when we're anxious, we talk so much, we just go on and on and on around that loop. And so I had this mom who, bless her heart, she was so anxious about her daughter's anxiety. And, I mean, I think I got two words in in the 50-minute session. And so all I could think to say at the end, because she was so locked in on everything, was, "Let the bottom 20% go." As we were walking out my door, "Let the bottom 20% go, let the bottom" -- just kept saying it over and over, thinking I hope she hears one thing.

But to think about if you're struggling with that idea of micromanaging, which I think most of us who are anxious are, to think about what are the ten things either that you're struggling with with your children the most or you're just focused on in life, and how do you pick the two that matter the least and let those go. If you're a parent, not only let them go in your mind, but stop talking about them. Because I think we end up inadvertently sabotaging conversations with kids, making it harder for them to listen to us because we're talking about every single thing. So literally I'm saying to parents, write down the top ten and let the bottom two go.

Jennifer Rothschild: Just mark them off the list, yeah. That's really good, Sissy. And for anyone dealing with anxiety, that is so practical.

Okay, Sissy, I am loving this and could tell we could talk forever, but I know we need to get to the last question. And so one of the things I liked about your book, that I would recommend, is how accessible it is. Because each chapter you kind of just deal with five core things. Okay? And you make them very memorable, very accessible. So we're not going to deal with five, but I would love for you just to speak to the listener right now who -- maybe she or he has recognized, I didn't realize I was dealing with anxiety, or, man, I think I am an anxious parent, or my child is anxious, or whatever. It's a big family deal. Okay, we're all anxious. Can you just give us some good counsel. What are, you know, one, two, three things, whatever, that we can do when this podcast ends to start dealing with our own anxiety?

Sissy Goff: Yes. Well, I -- you know, it's funny, I think I've gotten older since I've written the book. So I have kind of settled it into three things that I think about the most, and I renamed them because it helped me remember. Instead of -- do you remember learning stop, drop and roll with fire drills?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. Yes.

Sissy Goff: Okay. So I've been thinking about stop, drop and flip. Because, you know, anxiety starts in our bodies, but it moves to our thoughts really quickly. And so if I was going to say just to a parent, again, an anxious parent walking out of my office, three quick ideas, I would say, number one, I want you to notice where it starts in your body. Does your breath start to get quicker? Do you tend to clench your fist? Does your jaw get tighter? Are your shoulders up around your ears? I think a lot of us walk around that way. So stop the progression of thought when it starts. And in that, I want you to take three deep breaths.

And, you know, I love breath prayers where we learn Scripture and we can say something like -- breathing in -- I can do all things -- and out -- through Christ who strengthens me. So that's kind of accomplishing several things. But breathing is going to slow down our body, it's going to -- we talked about the amygdala before and how the amygdala hijacks the brain. It's going to shift the blood flow back to the prefrontal cortex, which helps us think rationally and manage our emotions. So stop the thought first, drop the thought. So we need to let go of that and replace it with something different, which is the flip.

You know, if I'm playing tug of war, nothing's going to happen until I drop the rope. And so literally dropping the thought sometimes means replacing it. So I'm going to take three deep breaths and then I'm going to shift my thinking to something different like -- one of my favorite things is a cognitive behavioral therapy tool that deals with a sensory approach, because anything sensory pulls us out of our anxious thoughts. So it's called the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 game. So tell me five things you see right now, tell me four things you hear, tell me three things you feel from a tactile sense, tell me two things you smell, one thing you taste. All five senses. So I'm going to do some deep breathing, I'm going to do some type of grounding game or exercise like that, and then I'm going to shift the thinking.

And we talked about this example before, but it's what I would go back to. Okay, I'm just anxious right now because I love my kids and I want something really good for them. And so I'm going to back up and remember that and go back into this conversation in a different space, because I've calmed my body down, I've stopped my anxious thoughts, and I've flipped them to something more positive.

K.C. Wright: Did you notice when she mentioned breathing, she suggested we use Philippians 4:13 as we breathe in and breathe out. Love that.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know.

K.C. Wright: And I know why you said she would become our BFF, because she just makes you feel so downright comfortable like you've really known her for years.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know.

K.C. Wright: Yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: And the cool thing is she makes you feel like she knows you. So if you loved this -- and I know you did -- you will love her book about becoming a worry-free parent. And the principles, as you clearly heard, don't just apply to parenthood. They apply to all of us humans, whether we have kids or not. So seriously, you need to check out all of Sissy's books and all things Sissy, because I think you are going to become a big fan. She can really speak into our lives.

K.C. Wright: I agree. And you can do all that at the Show Notes at There you can read the full transcript of this powerful conversation. You may need to review some of the great practical tips she gave. And you will also, of course, find links to all of her books and her podcast as well.

So all right, our people, you can be a worry three human today --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, you can.

K.C. Wright: -- because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. I can.

Jennifer Rothschild: I can.

Jennifer and K.C.: And you can.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, you can.

K.C. Wright: Now, listen, I know that Bob Goff is no relationship to Sissy Goff, but I am such a huge fan of Bob Goff as well.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, yeah. I know.

K.C. Wright: And I think they might be related. They just need to do, like, one of those --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, ancestry things --

K.C. Wright: There you go.

Jennifer Rothschild: -- 23 and Me? Well, they're both awesome. I think they both have the awesome gene in common.

K.C. Wright: They do. They do. But I just read a quote from Bob this morning. That's what I woke up to. He said, "Stand up like a mountain, have faith like a rock, and love like an avalanche."


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