Fear is a pain. I have to hold my hands up and admit that fear has held me back many times, it’s thrown me into a mindset of indecision and it’s triggered anxiety.
It’s a tough one to overcome, in fact it’s just as hard to actually admit you’ve fallen in to the fear trap. I’m only at the start of the journey of breaking free so I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers. But I’d like to think I do have some real experience that might just make it a teeny bit easier for someone else in the same sinking ship though! I am making progress so I thought why not share the steps I’ve taken so far to start to beat the demon of fear.
So how has it held me back? Well the very process of fearing something is in itself is a distraction from actually doing anything. So much time is spent stressing about what might happen, why it’s so scary, why it’s justified to be something you can’t do, that you run out of time to even take the tiny steps needed to overcome it. It’s all very well analysing a situation, but if you don’t come up with an action plan to move on, then you just end up staying in exactly the same place with an even stronger fear than you started with.
It can spiral in to a worse place though. Have you ever found yourself with a sudden inability to make decisions? 🙋♀️ Yep, that’ll be me again! I really hate that feeling… I like a plan, I like to follow steps and tick them off, I like to know what I’m doing. Perhaps I’m a control freak? Either way, when I genuinely can’t make a decision it makes my mind almost manic and feeds the fear even more. Which leads me to the darkest place that fear can take me…
Anxiety. The irony here is that the anxiety is triggered by fear of feeling the fear. Bonkers right? The darkest place is only there because I open the door to it. You’d think that would be enough to shut it down wouldn’t you? Apparently not. The mind is a powerful thing after all. Anxiety can vary from being on edge and just not functioning to full capacity to full blind panic where basic functionality just disappears. I think you’ll agree, it’s a place to be avoided wherever possible!
Now let’s be clear here, I haven’t avoided the dark place just yet. I did say I don’t have all the answers. But where have I got to? I get there less often. And if I do end up there it’s not quite as dark – it’s like there’s a little window with some light coming in that gives me some inner strength to drag myself out again, or at least ask for help to pull me out. Ok it’s still not nice, but at least I get in and get out ASAP.
To try to articulate some of the things I do now, I want to use this blog as an example. The fear of pressing that publish button is very real and is exactly why it’s been a while. I love writing and have too many draft blogs to count. But actually putting them out there for other people to read… well that’s a different kettle of fish! Writing for me is only enjoyable when it’s from the heart – fiction isn’t my skill set and I can only find my voice when it’s something I feel. So the fear really comes from knowing that I’m putting real life me out there when I press that publish button. Im not sure I’ll ever be fearless! So instead I’ve used that fear to come up with a checklist. If all boxes are ticked… I feel the fear and publish anyway. If they’re not, I park it as a draft to revisit another day. It takes away that inability to make decisions as I’ve already pre set the criteria. And of course I like a list, so the checklist itself ticks the box and keeps the anxiety at bay 👍🏻
Here’s the list:
1. Is it real? I have a tendency to brain dump so that can mean if I’m particularly emotional about something that’s happened, over exaggeration can happen. That’s not to say that’s wrong from a personal perspective. It’s often helpful to read back how I felt at a particular moment in time. But an engineered perception in my head, driven by strong emotions to a situation isn’t helpful or useful in the real world.
2. Would anyone be hurt by it? I write about real situations and experiences so inevitably sometimes other people will be part of it. While I never name anyone, I think we all know if we were reading a friends blog and we were in it, name or not we’d recognise ourselves. So if it could be hurtful, embarrassing or uncomfortable for anyone, it stays a draft.
3. Would I tell my family? Somethings are meant to be personal and kept to yourself! So I find it helpful to imagine my mum or dad reading it. Don’t think I need to say anymore about that!
4. What’s the impact of people knowing this about me? This is my hardest one to assess as it does link directly to the fear. So I have to be brutal with myself here. In this very blog for example I’m assessing as I write… I’ve put it out there that I suffer from anxiety. (Skipping the brain dump assessment bit and going straight to my conclusion!) But I know lots of us do, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and we should be more open about mental health.
I’ve used this blog to try and explain my steps but I’m applying the checklist rule to lots of areas, not just writing. Sure the criteria will be different depending on the scenario. But it’s a good way to identify what you’re actually scared of in any given situation. I’m going to leave it there but wanted to end on another short experience that actually inspired me to think about this whole subject.
My little girl recently broke her arm in the park. 100 times she’d been on the zip wire and adored the excitement every time. Then on the 101st time it didn’t go to plan. We went to the park the next day, plaster and all and she went straight to the zip wire! Now obviously I had to step in, she was still in plaster! But whether it was consciously or not, when she walked back into that park she made a choice. She could either choose to be scared of the zip wire and play differently. Play cautiously. Or she could make the choice she did. Carry on exactly as she was. Not let fear get the better of her. As soon as the plaster was off, she ran straight to the zip wire 💪🏼 I will absolutely be encouraging her spirit, determination, tenacity and ability to face the fear regardless.
This is a little girl.
She faces her fears so she can keep living her life and having fun.
Be like that little girl.
Laters lovelies ❤️❤️