In a world full of noise and negativity, Lynn Lyons, psychotherapist, and author of several books including Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents, is a light in the darkness. With her expertise, quick wit and unending stories, Lynn educated a packed house at the kick-off event of the Dr. Charles P. Conroy Speakers Series with stategies for how to recognize and ultimately, overcome, anxiety.
Psychotherapist Lynn Lyons telling a story.
“How can we not be anxious in a world that values safety overall,” Lynn asked. “We track our kids on their phones (stop that), and we can know anything at the click of a button. We need to stop telling our kids to be safe all of the time. The world is not a safe place, the key is to learn to deal with it,” Lynn said. The example she used was an elementary school sign that read “Be safe” as kids were heading off for the summer. “I don’t think I have ever heard someone say, I had a great summer, it was so safe,” she quipped.
Lynn addressed an audience of approximately 200 people on Thursday night November 30. She began her talk by addressing what anxiety really is, and where it comes from. She noted that in 2014 the World Health Organization declared that depression was the leading cause of illness and disability in adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19. The adults were not far behind. With all of this bad news, Lynn decided to make it her life’s work to help people identify and treat anxiety so that they could live full and productive lives.
“Anxiety comes from two places,” she said. “It’s genetic or you experience trauma. Our mission is to diminish the pattern that supports anxiety and depression, and find a better way to handle the feelings that arise.”
She offered several alternatives to dealing with anxiety by sharing several anecdotes of real-life cases she has handled. Her first suggestion is to allow a person to feel worried and then demote it in the brain. “Don’t offer alternatives that suggest nothing bad will ever happen as that isn’t reality, she noted. “If someone is afraid of dying, the odds of that happening are 100%, so how are you going to handle that without allowing alternatives? Instead, when you have a thought, feeling or sensation that leads you to feel anxious you need to learn to respond and react differently.”
(L to R) Perkins CEO Michael Ames, Lynn Lyons, Dr. Charles P. Conroy
Some of her other suggestions included naming your anxiety, “Oh, Pete, I knew you were going to turn up, so nice to see you.” Another is to purposely immerse yourself in the anxiety-producing situation. She then went on to tell a story about how she, personally, is medically triggered. “Any kind of description of a medical event, and I am going down,” she said. Her solution has been to purposely immerse herself in events that may lead to someone talking about medicine.
Lynn’s engaging style had many in the audience nodding in recognition or enjoyng her sense of humor. At the conclusion of the event – as guests were mingling over coffee and cookies – many were heard saying,”That was excellent.” Or “I wish I had brought my daughter/son, this would have made such a difference to him/her.” At the conclusion of the event, Lynn sold and signed copies of her many books and chatted at length with many participants.
The ultimate goal of Lynn’s talk was to teach that people – particularly children – can change. They can learn a better way to handle their worries and live a fuller life by asking “how” and not “why” questions.For more information about Lynn and her practice click here.
The Dr. Charles P. Conroy Speakers Series, named in honor Conroys 28 years of service as executive director, is focused on bringing members of our community together for lectures and discussion of a wide range of topics related to the various programs and services provided by Perkins. Speakers will focus on topics such as child development, mental health, education, intellectual and developmental disabilities and organizational planning and leadership.