“Feel the fear and do it anyway” – one of the most pointless phrases to say to someone dealing with anxiety, right? Well, I’m not so sure.
I’ve been told this many times before and have always pushed back against it. After all, feeling the fear is what causes us intense anxiety in the first place; fear of rejection or ridicule, fear something bad will happen, fear of a particular illness. We all deal with fears on a regular basis and it’s those very fears that cripple us, so whats the point in spouting “feel the fear and do it anyway” because obviously we can’t, it’s just too hard!
Well I thought so too to be honest, until recently. I’d decided 2018 was going to be my year, and not in a cheesy “New year new me!” way either before you say anything. Instead, it’s my opportunity to make life choices that suit me, and will allow me to become stronger, happier and an all round better person in general, which if I’m honest is tough because I’m already pretty spot on… 🙂
Since I made that decision, my approach has tied in to the therapy I had and the tools in which I’ve recently been taught – accepting anxiety for what it is and focusing on what you value to give you a better quality of life. So in theory, anxiety will be there, but instead of fighting it, we take it with us, and carry out challenges/tasks that we enjoy in order to ensure we’re happy and living life in a positive way.
Or in other words, feeling the fear and doing it anyway! Weird eh?
This all sounds rosey, but it certainly isn’t easy. There are days when going out for breakfast is a right faff, and I’m spending before, during and after trying not to think about whether I might throw up if I eat a sausage sandwich, or legging it out of a hospital recovery room because my legs turn to jelly and I’m convinced I’m going to hit the deck. And yes, this happened. What a laugh that was.
That said though, I believe in 3 things to manage anxiety and live a relatively ‘normal’ life: Exposure, consistency and self care. If you expose yourself to the things you find hard, while remaining consistent in doing so but give yourself the chance to rest and develop, anxiety can’t win. It might fight back, and fight back hard, but keep going, keep pushing and stay consistent.
Last week I quit my very secure and comfortable job to enter a world of self employment and I was terrified, but I knew that it was something I needed to do in order to benefit my mental health, so that’s exactly what I did. 7 days on, I feel good, I’m feeling strong and I have goals I can stick to.
So, if you’re struggling at the moment with whatever issues anxiety is throwing at you, make a plan of exposure, be consistent, give yourself the time to develop, and of course:
Feel the fear, and do it anyway.