Tag Archives: fear

How to face your fears

 

fears photo

How to face your fears

What are you afraid of? Do you avoid relationships because you fear rejection? Do you avoid job interviews as you worry you will fail? Fear is everywhere but it’s mostly in our minds. I know that seems a contradiction but it is only when you face your fears that you will realise that fear exists mainly in our minds.

We have a choice about how we want to view things in life. We can see the world as a scary place where others can’t be trusted and people are out to get us, or we can accept that parts of life are like that but we can still carry on and live life without allowing self limiting beliefs to limit our opportunities.

When you face your fears, you break down the huge threat that exists in your mind (eg. I will never be able to do that, that person is better than me, no one will ever love me, I am not good enough to do that, I will embarrass myself, no one understands me, I am the only one who is alone etc) and you build up confidence in your ability to cope with the tough times and your fears.

How to face your fears

Make a list of the things you fear. For example: talking to a stranger, opening up to your partner, going to the gym, etc

Rate each fear out of ten. Ten being the most stressful, one being the least stressful.

Example: Speaking to someone on the phone  2/10

Go shopping when there’s lots of people          4/10

Speak to a stranger                                               6/10

Ask my boss for a raise                                        7/10

Being assertive with a friend                               9/10

Telling my partner how I really feel                    10/10

Start with the lowest rated fears and begin working your way up. It’s all about baby steps. The more you face your fears the less you will fear them. Either, the worst won’t happen as you probably worry about and even if it doesn’t go well, you will be challenging the fearful thoughts and showing yourself that you can still cope.

Each step requires repetition so do each one regularly. The more you do it the less it will create fear for you. The less we fear the more opportunities we get in life.

If you think you would find it difficult to try the above steps on your own, speak to a Cognitive Behavioural therapist who can help you through the process. I have done it and it works!

Mandy X

 

The cause of anxiety

 

anxious photo

The cause of anxiety

In cognitive behavioural therapy, we refer to the anxiety equation. The anxiety equation shows the cause of anxiety.

Overestimation of the threat

____________________________________  =  Anxiety

Underestimation of ability to cope

Anxiety is always caused by our overestimation of the perceived threat and our underestimation of our ability to cope or handle the situation.

With regard to overestimating the threat – think about a time when you have anticipated an event and got yourself all worked up over it. Then  when you have actually experienced the dreaded event, you have found that it wasn’t half as bad as you expected it to be. Sound familiar?? This is part of the reason why we feel so anxious.

The other part is that we often underestimate our ability to cope. We tell ourselves we won’t be able to do it or that if the feared thing does happen, we will have a panic attack or not be able to manage it. We talk to ourselves in a fearful way that adds to our sense of dread. What we then do is try to avoid the event (which is the worst thing to do) or we find ways that we feel will help us cope by employing “safety behaviours”. Safety behaviours are things that we do that help us to cope temporarily in a feared or stressful situation. For some, it may be carrying a bottle of water or looking at our mobile phone (say for example in a situation where we feel anxious socially, in the company of others) or it could be complete avoidance. The problem is that when we avoid something we fear, the fear grows in our mind and we never test out our beliefs. When we face our fears, we often realise that we cope far better than we thought we would and this helps us to grow in confidence.

Even of the feared event doesn’t go that well, we teach ourselves that we still get through it, that we are still standing at the end of it and in this way we chip away at the fearful beliefs.

So, keep facing your fears. Keep repeating this and the more you face the feared situation, the easier it becomes and the less you will fear it. Start with baby steps if need be. For example, if you truly fear walking in to a room full of strangers ( a 10 out of 10 rating for anxiety, 0 = no anxiety, 10 = most anxiety), start with a 1 or 2 out of 10 anxiety rating. For example, perhaps start out by entering a room with one friend in it, then a few friends in it (slightly higher rating of 3 out of 10), then progress to a room full of friends (rating 5 out of 10 and then finally a room full of strangers)…this is just a very general example of “graded exposure” – get used to each level until the anxiety dissipates and then progress up to higher rating of anxiety of your feared-situation list.

In this way, you will learn to see the threat for what it really is, which is often less scary that you thought it would be and you also learn that you can cope with difficult situations. You will only know this by testing your beliefs out to see what happens!

You don’t need to live with anxiety – learn to challenge your fears. You may need to be out of your comfort zone more often but in the end you will expand your area of comfort and feel anxiety much less often and that is something we would all welcome!

Mandy X

 

 

Stop running away

 

stop running away

Stop running away

When life gets overwhelming, it is tempting to want to avoid problems, pretend they aren’t there and numb ourselves with some from of escapism such as alcohol, drugs, excessive spending, illicit affairs and so on.

The problem with this strategy is that avoidance often prolongs the issue that we are running away from, effectively extending our misery. Often we avoid something because we feel it will be unpleasurable – for example – confronting a partner about an unhappy relationship or leaving a job that you are no longer happy in. Running away doesn’t always consist of actively running away – it can also encompass denial and a refusal to tackle life issues.

Examine your attitude to the things you run away from. Instead of fear and avoidance, start telling yourself that embracing and confronting issues head on is where it’s at. Regularly repeat statements to yourself such as, “I am in control and will no longer tolerate unsuitable situations in my life”. “I will not be afraid to change my life circumstances as my goal is to improve my quality of life”. Initial change is scary for anyone but after the initial shock, you will feel the pleasure of knowing you are living a life of integrity and that you are ‘designing’ a life for yourself that is right…don’t settle and definitely don;t avoid out of fear. Be brave, see yourself as a Trojan – someone who isn’t afraid to tackle life and feel alive, even if feeling alive hurts sometimes.

The more you confront issues, the more empowered and confident you will ultimately feel. Don’t fear change, fear staying the same – fear accepting and ‘settling’…that is much more frightening.

Mandy X

How to challenge worry

 

worrying

How to challenge worry

Worrying is a waste of time- it expends mental energy but doesn’t solve anything. Solution focused worry is the best type of worry but most worry is made up of random ‘nonsense’ thoughts that destroy the current moment by sucking the happiness out. So we spend our lives worrying about things that might never happen and at the same lose, we lose opportunities to enjoy peace of mind and contentment.

Here are positive beliefs about worry that are irrational:

 

  1. Worry aids with problem solving

Example: If I worry about problems, I am better able to find solutions for them.

Ask yourself: Do you actually solve your problems by worrying or do you end up going over the problem again and again in your head?

Does worry get you to actually solve your problems or do you become so anxious that you delay solving your problems or avoid them altogether?

Are you confusing a thought (worry) with an action (problem solving)?

2. Worry as a motivating force

Example: If I worry about my performance, then I will be motivated to succeed.

Ask yourself: Do you know anyone who is successful and who isn’t a worrier?

Are you confusing worrying with caring? That is, is it possible to want to succeed and not worry about it all the time?

Does your worry really improve your performance? Are there negative repercussions as a result of your excessive worry?

3. Worry protects against negative emotions

Example: If I worry about my child potentially getting a serious disease, I will be better prepared emotionally if it happens.

Ask yourself: Has anything bad ever happened that you had worried about before? How did you feel? Were you buffered from the pain or sadness that it caused?

Does worrying about things that might never happen actually increase your negative emotions in the here and now?

4. Worry, in and of itself, can prevent negative outcomes

Example: When I worry about an upcoming exam at school, I do well; when I don’t worry, I don’t do well.

Ask yourself: Have you ever done poorly on an exam even though you worried?

Is your rule about worry (that is, worry = good outcome; don’t worry = bad outcome) based on real evidence or is it an assumption? For example: is it possible that you only remember the exams you did well on when you worried, and that you forget those you didn’t do well on when you worried?

Were you really not worrying when things didn’t go well on some exams, or are you just remembering it that way to support your assumption?

Could you test this theory? For example: could you track your worry prior to all exams and then look at your performance on each exam?

5. Worry, as a positive trait

Example: The fact that I worry about my children proves that I am a good and caring parent.

Ask yourself: Is there anything else you do that shows you are a good and caring parent? Is it only worrying about your children that shows caring and love?

Do you know any other parents that you would consider “good” and “caring” but who do not worry excessively?

Have you suffered any negative consequences from friends/family because of your excessive worry? Has anyone ever considered your worrying a negative personality trait?

6. The cost of worry: Potential challenges for all worry beliefs

Has excessive worry impacted on your work performance? Do you find that it takes you longer to complete tasks than other people who worry less?

Has your excessive worry led to high levels of stress and fatigue?

How much time and effort do you spend each day worrying about this topic?

Worry isn’t always a good thing and more often than not, it causes more harm than good. Learn to distinguish between REAL worry and HYPOTHETICAL (What if..) worry. A real worry needs attention in the here and now – for example: a broken washing machine…a hypothetical worry is something that may happen but might not.

Worry saps the joy from life and lowers quality of life. Learn to keep it in perspective.

Mandy X