I have worked hard to overcome my fears. I had a lot of fears, as I have anxiety issues, and sometimes things that can seem like an everyday task or part of life seems so overwhelming to someone with anxiety. I have been lucky in that I have found a way to manage it, while also challenging it. I don’t have the more extreme kinds of anxiety, I don’t experience panic attacks (Though I came close once or twice). I do however always have anxiety, it is constant and never fully goes away. I originally was going to title this “overcoming” your fears, but as I was making my list of fears I realized that I am still afraid of all of these things, but I do them anyways.
I was/am afraid of many things. And I am ok with this. I refuse to let it hold me back in life. I chip away at my fears day by day, and I never give up even if it takes me years. My fear of driving kept me from getting my license till I was 25 years old. It held me back. Now I drive all the time, but sometimes I am still scared. But not as scared as I was when I drove the car off the lot at the dealership. Every day gets better.
This is how I manage my fears, hopefully it helps you as well, but don’t feel defeated if it doesn’t work, people have varying levels of anxiety and fear to deal with, and yours may be a bit harder to manage, seek help from a counsellor or a doctor if you can’t manage it on your own!
First a rule, tackle ONE FEAR AT A TIME! This is a lifelong process, not a quick fix.
1. Make sure you want to change
Because it isn’t going to be easy. It will be painful, possibly embarrassing, and at first you will want to run back into your home and pull a blanket over your head. You have to be ready, and this means that you can acknowledge that it is holding you back. There may be some fears that you aren’t ready to challenge, and that’s ok, choose one that you think has the biggest impact in your life, and that makes you feel the least uncomfortable with changing. They will all make you feel uncomfortable, just choose the least uncomfortable.
2. Make a plan
Make it a small one, decide what the first step will be and where you want to end up when you have accomplished a few steps in the right direction.
3. Forgive yourself when you back out at the last second
So many times this happened, but I was making progress. In my book you are awesome for even thinking about making the attempt to manage the fear. It takes a lot of strength and it’s ok to say you know…thinking about it was enough for me today.
4. Be prepared that not everyone is going to understand
They won’t know why their driving terrifies you, or why you can’t go to their party because there’s going to be too many people you don’t know, and they won’t like it. Sometimes they won’t like you because of it. It’s your choice whether you want to hold onto those friendships. Sometimes their insistence that you attend or try can be a motivating factor, but then it could also be emotionally damaging if your attempt fails. When you find someone who tries to understand, encourages you, and is still there when you fail, grab hold tight to those people and never let go! Ever!
6. Make that baby step
Everything can be broken down into smaller steps. Nothing is impossible. If you are afraid of a mountain, climb a hill. If you are afraid of driving take your written test.
7. Evaluate, and Increase or decrease accordingly
Could you handle it? If yes, increase, so climb a bigger hill. If you can’t handle it, if you failed, and you are more scared than ever…take some time to recover. Decrease it even more, so don’t climb a hill, make a pile of sand and step over that. Or wait for another year and re-try because maybe you were not yet ready.
You did it, you have become just a little more free. Or if you didn’t celebrate anyways. Take joy in your attempt, and learn from the fail. You can try again after you eat some ice cream and binge watch The Walking Dead.
If at any point in this process you have panic attacks, or are generally prone to panic attacks, I would suggest getting the supervision of a doctor or psychiatrist before even attempting to manage your fears.