The Cambridge Dictionary has two definitions of fear. First, the British: “an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen”. Secondly, the American: “a strong emotion caused by great worry about something dangerous, painful or unknown that is happening or might happen”
Emotion, worry, painful, bad, unknown.
(I also think the Urban Dictionary definition is pretty interesting. Check it out here.)
The most intriguing thing about these definitions is that the root in both cases is worry or emotion. Both of which we are responsible for. We can control our emotions, for example: worry. Yes, there is a time and place for true fear, when the “fight or flight” instinct (sympathetic nervous system) is activated in order to ensure our survival. However, many of us get wrapped up in fear, or worry, or anxiety on a daily basis. These tend to arise from the vague “might happen” scenario…
The Cambridge Dictionary defines anxiety as “an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or worry about something that is happening or might happen”
Please compare that to the definition of fear, above.
I dealt with a plenty of anxiety between 2015 and 2016. There were days when I was in Nicaragua – supposed to be having the time of my life – that I simply could not leave bed. The day we planned on climbing a volcano, I stayed “home” and cried all day.
It was so easy to sit in bed and blame others or “The World” for my perceived hardships. It was easy to put the responsibility on an external source.
But OH MY GOODNESS! When I flipped the coin and saw that I was creating this negativity within myself; that I am responsible for me – the way I act, the way I re-act, the way I feel… THAT is when the honest work began.
I had to face my fears. The fear that I wasn’t enough, that I wasn’t perfect, that my wedding hadn’t been what others expected, that I could have saved my cat, that I wasn’t the typical bride, that I had let people down, that this ’round the world trip was irresponsible… etc. etc.
I had to own these fears. I am enough. I am not perfect. Our wedding was just the way it should have been. I was the best bride I could be. The walls I put up (some flimsy and breakable, others impenetrable), created opportunities to be let down. I chose to act that way and feel that way. Bugsy knows I love him. The trip, as extraordinary as it may have been, was very right for us.
The point I am trying to make here:
You MUST face your anxiety and your fear. NOW.
It is hard work based on self-exploration. You have to confront the depths of your soul and honestly face the parts of you that you’re unfamiliar with. Get to know who you really are, why you do/feel the things you do/feel and where your anxieties or fears truly come from.
There is no time like the present. So get started. NOW. Go grab your journal. NOW.
Write out all of the things that scare you and/or cause you anxiety (today, yesterday, this week, this month). Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be real. Cry. Punch your pillow. Scream. And most importantly, throughout the whole process, look at each fear or anxiety from an internal place. Take full responsibility for every single emotion or thought. Own it. Admit if you’re mad at yourself for holding on to it. Admit if you made a mistake. Admit when you can be better.
Then breathe. Put your journal down, for now. Move forward with a little more sensitivity and awareness. Repeat.
When you feel that monster creeping up within yourself (the one you feel like you can’t control). Go back to your journal. Dig deep, examine, express, admit, accept, open up. This is a process that will be repeated hundreds if not thousands of times during our lives.
(I recommend this to be initially self-study with your journal because it is about ownership and only you can be responsible for you.)
A year ago, this was my process. Over and over again. It was months before I began to feel like “me” again. It was a new and improved version of myself with a little more edge and grit, but a whole lot more honesty, sensitivity and authenticity.
The path of self-exploration is never-ending. So why not get started today? Ditch the baby steps because you’re an adult; Run, dive, jump, whatever. Do it now. That way tomorrow (and every day thereafter) you know you are bettering your truest yourself.
I trust you have someone in your life that can support you in your journey. However, if you need someone to listen or someone to open up to, I am here. This is a safe and judgement-free zone. Feel free to email me if you want to connect, any time.
I have lots to say on the topics of anxiety, fear, our responsibility when it comes to our emotions and actions etc. so this will be an ongoing discussion. This is just the beginning, which is often the hardest part. If you have any questions or topics you would like to discuss further please let me know!