What are you scared of?

We all have fears, whether it’s spiders, snakes, birds or enclosed spaces, or it might be something completely bizarre like marshmallows or beans. I have a fear of tunnels and caves – they really do make me feel anxious – something about having that enormous mass on top of you, that could come crashing down at any moment, terrifies me. Another is crawling through small spaces, I think this comes from being a larger child and getting stuck in obstacles during PE lessons at school.

But we all know the only way to conquer our fears is to face them.  I was forced to face my fear of crawling through small spaces during a Tough Mudder event in 2018, where I had to crawl through a partially submerged drain pipe, down into muddy water, under barbed wire and then back up another drain pipe out of the other side. I had a complete meltdown and almost skipped the obstacle, if it hadn’t been for a kind marshal who spotted my panicked state and reminded me that I would really regret skipping it if  I didn’t at least try it. He talked to me all the way through the first pipe until I popped my head up in the middle, elated that I was actually doing it, and then able to carry on up the second pipe without his help – because it really wasn’t that bad after all. I wasn’t getting stuck and I was going to be able to get through it.

We also know that sometimes it can be quite scary to face up to our current situation; scary to accept and acknowledge our failings, and the fact that we might have to make some serious changes to our lifestyle to allow us to improve our health situation, lose some weight or get a bit fitter.  It might also be more than a little bit scary to commit to a seriously challenging goal, that stretches you.  It even might be scary to start changing our habits, when those habits are so ingrained and part of our comfort zone, the thought of not doing them makes us feel really uncomfortable.

We know that so many people are resistant to changing their habits. But why? Is it fear of the unknown? Is it a worry that you might feel mildly uncomfortable? Are you scared that you might feel hungry? Or you might not be able to eat the foods you really love eating? Are you scared that you might have to drink a bit less alcohol? Are you scared that you will perhaps feel a little uncomfortable?  If your goal is a physical one, are you scared of getting a bit out of breath? Of sweating? Of being laughed at because you are trying hard? Are you scared that you will fail?

We have two choices when we are confronted by things that make us feel anxious or scared – we can avoid it or we can tackle it head on.  All avoidance does is empower the thing that you feel anxious about.  But by exposing ourselves gradually and repeatedly to our feared situations we build resilience, until we are no longer anxious about it.


Be Strong!

Facing your fears is the only way to combat them.  Exposing yourself to your fear won’t make the fear worse, instead it will gradually get you to the point where it is no longer a fear, if you do it often enough.

When we face our fears we cause three things to happen in our minds and bodies, that prevents us from feeling fear for the same or other fearful situations in the future.

  1. Facing your fear empowers you! Seems pretty obvious really I suppose, but every time you face your fear, you gain power and take away power from what ever it is that you are scared of.  It also gives you a sense of accomplishment, that further breeds confidence and self-belief.  It gives you the power and strength to believe that whilst whatever it is you are doing is uncomfortable, you can put up with it, it isn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be.
  2. Facing your fear helps you master it! From a behaviour perspective, when you repeatedly confront your fear you are learning a new skill. You are teaching your body and mind a new way to be, which, over time as the neural pathways are reinforced with each repetition, it gets easier and easier. When you start to master something, your chances of failure are dramatically reduced.
  3. Facing your fear de-sensitises you to fear overall! Exposure to your fears, means you get used to that feeling of fear and you learn how to deal with it.  Over time, you become more able to deal with any fearful situations, because you have been there before, and successfully navigated through it. You essentially become braver, every time you face a fear!

So, if doing something that might be a little bit scary or uncomfortable actually means you get to a place where you have wanted to be for a long time, then I hope you can now see that there is no reason not to at least give it a damn good try.

Do one thing every day that scares you!Mary Scmich

What is stopping you from making the changes you need to make?

Whatever it is that is holding you back, it is time to smash through that barrier.  It is time to start facing those fears and anxieties!

I can assure you that the feelings of hunger are manageable.  I promise that you will find foods that you love eating long term – you might even find that you start to prefer these after a while.  I promise you that exercise and physical activity will get easier and will hurt less.  I know that you will become capable of things, that you never thought possible.   I can also assure you that drinking a bit less alcohol won’t do you any harm whatsoever.  I can tell you that you are capable of enjoying yourself and drinking a bit less, and your bank balance will thank you as well as your waistline.

I can 100% guarantee that you will gain the respect and admiration of others for putting the effort in and chasing your dreams. And you will most certainly make yourself feel proud.

This week!

If you have been putting off doing something, that you know is the right thing to do, but it just feels like it might be a bit too hard, give it a go, and then another go, and then another go.  Do it until it no longer feels uncomfortable or scary, and then carry on. That is when the magic happens!

Leave a Reply