In my late teens I had lots of fears, one of them being shopping alone. I hated being in a shop on my own. Always feeling really intimidated by people. I lacked confidence and hated being on my own. Still, I don’t know what it was about shopping that made me so nervous. I felt uncomfortable around people so I hated having to pay and talk to people. I’d feel awkward, stutter, drop my purse, trip over the bag and all sorts of awkward experiences because I felt so uncomfortable.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear’
I remember once I was shopping with my sister. She wandered off to look at something she’d seen and I was stood there in the middle of the shop. I was trying to hold back my tears, my heart was racing and I felt so scared. That time on my own felt like forever and I hated every second of it. I couldn’t stand being on my own for that short period of time and since then even the thought of being on my own in a shop sent me into a feeling of panic.
I have now overcome this fear, manage my anxiety and I’m a lot more confident. Today I walked into a shop and spent an hour shopping on my own. I didn’t feel any fear. It wasn’t until after when I had come home that I realised what I had done and that it used to be really difficult for me.
Another huge fear I have overcome is driving. I would only ever drive with my mum or my sister in the car, not with anyone else and not on my own. I was afraid of driving to places I didn’t know. Scared of getting lost. I worried about how other people drive and causing danger to me and I stressed over situations that very rarely happen.
I slowly overcame this fear by using a worksheet and tracking my anxiety before, during and after the experience. After doing this a few times I realised that after driving alone I felt calm, so there was no need for me to feel any fear before driving, I knew I would be fine. Now I drive regularly on my own, with others, long distance and to places I don’t know without a second thought.
Spend some time reflecting on the times you currently feel fear. Look back on the times you have felt panicked and what you were doing at the time. Make a list of all these and add to the list if you think of any more.
Spend the next few days or weeks watching out for when you feel that fear. Write down the date and time, what triggered the fear and how it made you feel. You can also write anything you tried to overcome it and whether it helped or not. From this you will start to build up a picture of what your fears are and what does and doesn’t work to stop the feeling of fear.
Now that you know what fears you are facing and want to work on overcoming its time to face them. Pick one to get started with and schedule a time to face the fear, I recommend the same day and time every week so it becomes a habit. Create a table where you can record your level of fear before, during and after the event. Leave a space for any additional comments too. Every time you face the fear record your levels of fear and any other comments. Over time you will find that it reduces the more times you face it as you will get less and less nervous about it before from all the times you have previously done it.
In my own personal experience with facing my fear of driving using this technique I started as a 10/10 before and after a few weeks of driving the same route the same time every week I got used to it and realised that nothing bad happened to me. As a result the fear I felt before started to reduce before finishing at 0/10 before, during and after which still remains today.
Once you have got the fear down to 0/10 review the process. Be proud of yourself and celebrate it. Think about anything that you have gained from overcoming this fear and how it has improved your life. You can also think about anything you can improve in the process for any future fears that you want to face. Then start planning to face your next fear.
You can repeat these 4 steps for any new fears that may come up and use the process whenever you need it. Let me know how you get over in the Facebook Community.
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Feel free to share any fears you have either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us in the Facebook community and I can work with you to overcome those fears like I have mine.
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