Written by Julie Taylor
…if you let them.
A very common issue is suffering from anxiety and panic and generally feeling scared stiff. This means that the thoughts of living your life to its fullest are out-shadowed by the thoughts of terrible things that could happen to you if you did try those things.
For instance, if you have always wanted to sky-dive but your fear of skydiving outweighs your desire, you will never take that first step and skydive. Which is fine. More commonly it happens with mundane events such as meeting new friends or going out to see a movie etc. Even simply getting showered, dressed and going out for a walk. This is a huge quality of life issue. It can be extremely lonely and isolating to be too scared to socialize with family and friends. And to bring it full circle, isolation and loneliness can exacerbate anxiety, panic and depression . It can be a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.
It is easy for those that suffer with panic and anxiety to get stuck in these faulty patterns of thinking. I call this the theory of opposites as the way to solve the problem appears as a way to exacerbate it. It’s natural when feeling scared to feel like retreating and hiding from the fear. It appears as though that creates safety. But the opposite is true. By avoiding your fears you actually perpetuate the anxiety and that is usually more dangerous than the thing you are avoiding
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The first step to move away from avoidance and back into your authentic life is to identify your irrational thoughts and patterns. One way to identify them is to check for the “what if’s.” If you catch yourself contemplating the “what if’s” before doing something that you want to do you may have some irrational thoughts gone wild. For instance, let’s say that you have been thinking about changing careers. You hate the field you’re in and desperately love the idea of starting something new. As you begin to think through all tasks to make the change and it starts to feel more realistic you begin to second guess yourself. “What if I am no good at it?” ” What if I am giving up a perfectly good job on a whim?” What if everyone laughs at me for making a foolish choice?” You get the idea.
Next, try really answering that question from a rational perspective. What if everyone did laugh at you? Well, a rational thought might be that anyone who laughs at you is probably not a good person to have in your life. You might be better off focusing on those around you who are supportive as they will give you strength and validation. And what would it actually mean to you, in real terms?
So as you begin to approach each paralyzing irrational thought with rational answers you can begin to move more freely and start to lead a more fulfilling and authentic life.
Take one step at a time. Move slowly but surely.
You can do it!
with a hug, Julie