I have recently been asked by a couple of amazing women to write blog posts and do interviews regarding following your dreams and pushing through your fears. This is totally flattering and at the same time slightly terrifying for someone like me.
Let me explain… and I’m about to get super real.
I have found I have two intense inner needs:
The first is to find my purpose, continually grow and learn, get myself out into the world and help others.
The second is to hide, avoid judgement, maintain control, stay safe and isolate myself. This is in order to avoid the social anxiety and panic attacks that inevitably creep up if I don’t keep my shit sorted.
Yes, these both seem to be completely conflicting and yet both have been extremely important for me up to this point.
One side I need to push out in to the world… and the other I need to keep hidden, to avoid any type of shame and embarrassment.
For me the first motivated me to create new businesses, this blog, learn new skills and explore my own personal growth.
The second ultimately lead me to avoid social situations. Feel mounting anxiety that would at times build up into a complete break down. This would include sweats, tears, fevers, shakes and the need to be in bed for hours with a huge sense of shame.
The last few years I have been torn between both of these elements of psyche and I can finally say I feel at a turning point. The next stage of my life – where it is time to step up and find my voice without fear of judgement and overthinking.
Social Anxiety and Panic Attacks are something I and many others have experienced in the past and will no doubt occur again. Yet thankfully I have made it my mission to not associate the core of who I am as a person with either of these – although it’s easy to often think ‘What’s wrong with me’.
I went to a psychologist a couple of times while I was going through a phase of rapid healing and growth around a year ago. I wanted to hear her advice and speak to someone completely separate from my life.
I said to her right from the start – I don’t want to ever say I ‘suffer from social anxiety’ or that I have been ‘diagnosed with social anxiety’. That is not WHO I am, and in my case, thinking like that would only create an attachment to me as a person.
For me to be able to get passed this I needed to look at it as something I experienced at times – not something that defines who I am, because I knew it didn’t.
There is a gift in it, there is always a gift, I just had to find what it was.
So how do I grow whilst wanting to shrink?
Intuition is our best friend. The more time we can spend with ourselves, the more we get to know our inner voice and learn to trust it.
Growing up with a spiritually aware mother and happy to spend a lot of time on my own creating, I have found my intuition has been strong my whole life and I thank my mum so much for that.
If it feels right I will do it, if it doesn’t I won’t (most of the time). And that ‘feeling’ doesn’t relate to fear or anxiety, they are just emotions on the surface relating to ‘fight or flight’, I mean your true intuition, your own sense of knowing. If that’s telling me its the right thing to do then I go for it before I can think twice.
I figured it is ridiculous to allow my own unfounded fears to hold me back.
I also make sure I have at least one day a week for ‘me time’ , this is how I refill my energy cup and stay centred. I know it is when I have pushed myself too hard and not had time to myself that I lose my sense of centre and the panic attacks creep up.
While watching a Ted Talk by Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal on ‘Making Stress Your Friend’
She speaks about your ‘belief’ around stress and how that can actually have more effect on you than the stress itself.
Stress gives us access to our hearts and its also gives us the tools to deal with a situation…. When you choose to look at stress in this way, you’re saying you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.
When you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.
She was asked at the end ‘When someone is making a lifestyle choice between a stressful job and a non stressful job , does it matter which they choose? Do they just need to believe they can handle it?
Her reply; One thing we know for certain is that chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort. Go after the thing that brings meaning to your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.
I love that.
I have never been this publicly open. There is a perception that you need to be a certain type of person to succeed and for the world to accept you. However I am beginning to experience the opposite.
The more we are accepting of ourselves – all of ourselves, the more we are following our true path and the more the world opens up for us.
The more honest I am, the more I follow my heart / gut and the more I allow others to see me as I really am, the less I care! The less anxiety fills me, the less worry occupies me. The more success and growth I encounter in all areas of my life – just by being me.
I don’t have to look perfect, sound perfect, say the right things, do the right things, I just am and that is perfect in itself.
I am truly excited for the next chapter of my life, to drop the need of safety and really embrace growth one step at a time.
If this has resonated with you I would love to hear from you 🙂