Thursday, 26 April 2018

Facing Fears | Life Stories



One major thing I have learnt throughout my entire experience with anxiety is that nothing gets better until you start facing the things that you are fearful of. 

A few years ago my fears, which were at the centre of my anxiety issues and panic attacks, were quite normal every day things. The panic attacks I suffered led me to feel fearful of everything - walking the streets, being around people, driving my car, going shopping - you name it I was scared of it. It took me a very long time, along with the help of medication and therapy, to unlearn some really damaging thought processes which led me to suffer with panic disorder. I can only liken it to breaking your leg and learning to walk again. It felt impossible but gradually over time, and with consistent facing of said fears, was I able to start to lead a semi 'normal' life again. 

And basically it comes down to this. The more you do something the easier it feels. The more you do something and it goes well, the less you fear doing it again in future. It might take weeks, months or  even years, but eventually you will get there. 

'What you are afraid to do is a clear 

indication of the next thing you need to do'


It's actually something I have been practicing myself over the past few years with flying. I haven't been on a very long haul flight since 2015 and when I suffered my last relapse. Since then I have been gradually building up my flight times to get me used to being in the air again. I started small with very short one hour flights, I then worked my way up to Europe and being in the air for a couple of hours at a time, and I think Santorini last year was the longest yet at four hours. The situation now is that I wouldn't consider flying to be an issue for me. I have completed multiple flights panic free which has been a huge achievement and I'm now feeling ready for my next long haul adventure. 

I know without doubt that if I'd never got back onto a plane following my last panic attack on one then the problem would have multiplied ten fold and I wouldn't be travelling anywhere today. 

I would say overall that I am a generally anxious person. I'm an over thinker, I over prepare for everything, I'm always early to everything and I tend to play out situations in my mind before they happen. I'm definitely winning the war with anxiety but I do think if you are that way inclined then it's something that is always within you, just perhaps at different levels of intensity. In fact it's something that's inside of everyone because everyone does experience anxiety on some level. There is however a huge difference between feelings of nervousness and an anxiety disorder. These days I am more on the nervous level than anything else which I'm extremely grateful for because I have experienced the other end of the spectrum.

'A comfort zone is a beautiful place, 

but nothing ever grows there...'


A few weeks ago the co-work space where I work from once a week asked if I would like to be the next guest speaker at their social club event. I've been to one of these events before as an attendee and  I really enjoyed it so I jumped at the chance to have the opportunity to lead one myself. And almost as soon as I had said yes the nerves kicked in. 

This was quite a few weeks ago now since I was initially asked and ever since then it has dawned on me that I've never really done any official public speaking before. Thankfully the group for the social club was only small at around fifteen people, and I don't think I would have ever agreed to it if it had been any large number. But I soon realised that by agreeing to do it I was voluntarily pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I felt really flattered that they asked me, and I love talking about what I do as a blogger and social influencer, so I felt excited to be able to share some of my own experiences with others and meet new people along the way. However, I would be lying if I didn't say that I felt really nervous in the lead up to this event and I experienced that feeling of something hanging over me that I really just wanted to get out of the way. 

So this week I faced a fear. I gave a two hour talk to fifteen people about myself and what I do in my work as a blogger, YouTuber and social influencer. I encouraged conversation with my audience and the more they asked questions and shared some of their own experiences, the more I felt at ease. I actually found it to be a really positive experience and some of the feedback I received from attendees made it even more worthwhile. I felt really proud of myself afterwards for pushing myself to do something completely outside of my comfort zone and I know that if I was asked to do it again I wouldn't be as nervous as I was prior to this one.   

This whole experience has made me really reflect and I think it's so easy to just plod along in our comfort zones and avoid challenging ourselves in life. I genuinely believe that as soon as you do step outside of your comfort zone, and do something out of the ordinary, you not only feel fantastic for it but you also really grow as a person. I think it's also about saying yes more often too, even to the things that might scare you. Take it from me, you'll feel amazing for it. 

When was the last time you faced your fears? 




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2 comments

  1. Congratulations on giving the talk! That's such an amazing achievement and you hav every right to be proud of yourself. I'm a huge overthinker too, so trying new things can be daunting - even seemingly small things like seeing a new hairdresser, for instance - but over the last month or so I've been getting my life admin stuff sorted and I feel so much better for it xx

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  2. I'm currently doing this thing where I'm trying to face my fears basically every day! It's pretty stressful but you're right, the more times you can do things and they go well the more you can keep doing those things.

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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