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Monday Moment: Let’s face it, we’ll never get this right

Emma Grey

My daughter lives with Anxiety and exam week was particularly rough.

She had the worst panic attack she’d experienced during one of her exams. While shaking and having nausea, feeling hot and prickly and distressed, she put her hand up and let the teacher know.

The teacher gave her permission to go to sick bay, but she chose to stay and get it done. She remembered advice from her psychologist: “You can be having a panic attack and also doing something else, like an exam.” She continued on and completed the test, all while experiencing a sub-optimal mindset, and I couldn’t have been more proud.

Even those of us who don’t experience Anxiety have a raft of mindset gremlins running riot through our thought-processes — urging us to procrastinate, or feel overwhelmed, or attempt perfection, or hold back entirely through fear of failure, or even fear of success. We can fall into a trap of thinking we must learn how to rid ourselves of these thoughts or this self-talk.

It doesn’t go away, so we make decisions to let it win.

We delay action until we ‘sort out our thinking’ or ‘get our act together’, instead of just getting on with it while the gremlins scurry around, doing their best to bring us down.

When Audrey and I started planning our forthcoming book, we met in Melbourne to plan how it would look. While we were there, we visited Dymocks and perused competing titles.

Big. Mistake.


Our embryonic little book comprised a jumbled set of ideas on Post It notes stuck on the wall in our hotel. Everyone else’s books were so finessed and best-seller worthy. The ‘comparison’ gremlin was having a field day!

So we decided we could feel inferior AND we could get on and write the book. We could feel like procrastinating AND do the work. We could be overwhelmed AND draft a few paragraphs.

As soon as we gave ourselves permission to continue experiencing our natural self-doubt, but not to let it stop us, we made huge progress. Now it’s in the publisher’s hands, we think our book will measure up just fine alongside the others on that shelf in the bookstore next year.

Achieving things is never about being ready. It’s never about having the right mindset. It’s never about banishing the negativity entirely. It’s about learning to co-exist with those permanent mindset gremlins. It’s about giving yourself permission to feel these ways, but to get on with your activity regardless — like my daughter with her exam.

We’ll be going into a whole lot of interesting detail about how we can manage our response to self-doubt at our upcoming public workshop, The 7 Mindset Gremlins That Mess With You Most (and how to get your stuff done anyway).

Tickets are selling fast, and if you’re looking for fresh ways to get a lot more done, you’ll love it!


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

  • Suzi

    Hi Emma – I can totally empathise with your daughter. I suffered from anxiety in years 11 and 12 and first year uni. Then with age and experience came perspective and the end of anxiety. Suzi

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