When we have negative experiences associated with certain events we tend to avoid those experiences moving forward. I think that’s a totally normal reaction because of course you don’t want to keep having bad experiences.
However, what can end up happening is that you limit yourself in the future. You avoid things that will help you grow and develop as a person.
Let’s say growing up you had a bad experience with public speaking. You didn’t feel confident, stumbled over your words, forgot what you wanted you say and ended up feeling really embarrassed. Based on that experience you decided that you’d never do public speaking again. You now associate it with feeling uncomfortable and you don’t think it’s something you could ever be good at so you actively avoid it.
It’s gotten to the point that now just the thought of speaking in public is enough to fill you with anxiety.
A whole decade could have passed by yet you’re still deeply impacted by the feelings associated with a past memory.
In this situation, I think the only way to overcome it is to do the thing that scares you. Of course it might not go swimmingly but being embarrassed or forgetting your words isn’t the worst possible thing that could happen you . It’s not good but it could be so much worse. I think changing the way you think about a situation not turning out perfectly is so important.
Focus on just being able to do it and get through it without all the extra pressure of being perfect. Try, try and try again even if it means feeling a bit uncomfortable and being a little awkward.
In time, you go from associating public speaking with being fear and embarrassment to it being a way to express yourself.
Doing this allows you to eventually rewrite the memory associated with that experience.
You convince yourself that you have to work hard, overcome struggle and become something else in order to ‘make it’. Then once you make it you’ll be happy.
Perhaps it would be considered childish or silly but what if you could just enjoy life, right now.
Is it possible that you can be joyful without overcoming great hurdles or becoming successful in the eyes of the world.
It’s not that you should have no dreams or aspirations in life because those things are great. The issue is that we place our happiness in those things, in money, a big house and luxury items. We put conditions on our happiness.
We aspire to be happy instead of just being happy.
Many people feel a lot of anxiety when it comes to making decisions.
I’ve written quite a few posts about the anxiety that can be felt around making decisions, choosing pathways and picking between different options.
One of my beliefs when it comes to making decisions that I created a few years ago is that, either way things will turn out fine. It’s not a case of there being a good and bad option but instead choosing a path or experience.
That’s something I would say to anyone picking between two options but I also like to remind myself of that when I have to make choices.
There are some situations where it might seem like there is a clear good option, let’s say for example it is the choice to spend the day at home or have a day out in in a new city.
Your initial thought may be that staying home is boring and going out is the obvious choice. However, maybe when you stay home you end up doing a bunch of things that you’ve been putting off for weeks or months. You end up decluttering your space, tidying up and just refreshing your space so that feels a little more vibrant and a little more you.
Perhaps if you choose to go out, you’ll end up seeing some cool places, spend time with friends and eat some good food. So, either way you still have a good day.
The idea of things turning out fine no matter which option you choose came from the fact that making choices can often be difficult and I wanted to find a way to make it easier. My fear was always making the wrong decision and so I’ve worked to find a way to eliminate that and suddenly making around decisions isn’t as difficult as it used to be.
We can be so quick to find ourselves and figure ourselves out that we end up taking on traits, roles and habits to help us feel less lost.
We then close ourselves off to experimentation and new ideas, it’s too risky.
In turn this leads to you becoming a person that isn’t really you, it’s just the person you’re pretending to be. You either commit to being that person for the rest of your life or you reach a point where you choose to change.
When you truly realise that the person you’ve been showing up as is not only not the ‘real’ you but also not the person you want to be, it allows all that is not you to fall away.
This then opens you up to you, stripped back with nothing to prove.
After a difficult or challenging life experience whether mental or physical, you end up in a recovery period.
For example, imagine you fall off your bike and break your leg. Your recovery period would be the cast and crutches but eventually you’re walking again. Another example is a breakup, it could take a few weeks or even months to emotionally recover from a relationship ending.
The recovery net is where you end up when you’re not willing to let go of the comfort/safety of being in recovery.
If we go back to the bike story. Imagine, you’re at the point where your leg has healed and you no longer need the crutches but you can’t seem to let them go.
You’re physically ready to ride again but you keep making excuses because you need them when the truth is you’re scared without them. You’re scared of falling.
And with a relationship ending your recovery net might be never committing to one person so that when one situation ends you’ll always have someone else.
The recovery net is the method that we use to protect ourselves from things that brought us some form of harm/pain. Not because we’re in any danger but because the idea of the potential danger scares us so much that we aren’t really ready to make the true leap and risk being hurt again.
If only it was as easy as 1, 2, 3!
Something for you to refer back to when you need it.
Write down how you feel. Write until you have nothing left to write. Write without trying to be perfect, let it be messy and make no sense. The important part is getting it all out and down on paper. Sometimes our feelings of being overwhelmed are caused by a build up of feelings or words unspoken. Even though writing them out won’t directly change the situation often all you really need is to let it out.
Exercise and get your body moving. It could be skipping, a HIIT workout, dancing or whatever works for you. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good but the movement also allows you to dispel the heavy energy of a low mood. If you don’t feel like doing a proper workout, have a solo dance party instead.
Listen to music that will boost your mood. I’ve previously written about having a pick me up playlist, it’s so easy to create and it actually works. Once you get into associating certain songs with boosting your mood you’ll get to a point where just a few seconds of the intro will be enough to make you start to feel better.
Sometimes we have to do things that we don’t want to do. But it’s important to remember, there are levels to this sort of thing.
You might not want to go to work but you have to. Work could be 9-5 or it could be a 12 hour shift, that’s a lot of time spent doing something that you don’t want to do.
You might not want to leave your house to collect a prescription. That’s not likely to take more than 30 minutes so even though you don’t want to do it, it’ll be over soon.
It’s really important to ensure that you’re not spending spending too much of your life doing things that you don’t want to do. Doing so may lead to a life of misery. And so if you find yourself spending large amounts of your day doing things you don’t want to do, maybe you could do something to change that?
Sometimes when it comes to doing what’s best for you, you don’t consider yourself to be important.
And so, instead of making a decision based on what’s best for you and your wellbeing you put other people first.
You make choices based on people pleasing and fear of letting people down or having them be disappointed.
When you do that continuously, you’re the one that ends up feeling disappointed. Meanwhile, everyone else is totally oblivious to the fact that you’re over extending and on the brink of being worn out.
You have to learn to set clear boundaries such as not over working yourself to please people and being okay with saying no when you know you don’t have the time or energy.
For many people, how they value themselves comes from other people.
This can be great when people are treating you well but when not so much when you’re treated poorly. You go from feeling good about yourself to not feeling good enough and because you’ve become reliant on other people to determine your value.
It may even get to the point where you almost feel lost and are unable to truly establish how you feel about yourself without it coming from other people. And so, you feel down and worthless whilst also blaming other people for how you feel.
I think that stage of blaming others continues until you’re able to realise that nobody else should be in control of how you feel about yourself. That’s not a solid foundation.
One of the triggers for anxiety is uncertainty.
It’s fair to say that uncertainty is a part of life. However, there are plenty of times in life where you can seek clarity to help fill in the gaps.
This can be done by asking more questions.
When would you like me to complete this?
What time do you want to meet?
How do you feel about this situation?
You don’t have to play the guessing game, you don’t have to wait for someone else to initiate the conversation and you don’t have to live life on someone else’s terms.
Asking questions might also make you feel anxious but maybe that bit of discomfort is worth it now if it means you won’t feel anxious later.