Fear, and Stress. It paralyzes. It’s debilitating. Weak. Unnecessary. Annoying. Cancerous. But, it’s everywhere… why? How and where does it manifest itself? Why do we let it take over our lives so deeply? When did we start allowing ourselves to think it’s OK? Why do we let it to ruin our lives?
These questions, I’ve asked myself hundreds of millions of times… until the day I started believing there’s no room for fear in my life.
Instead of asking why, it all turned into, “what are YOU going to do about it?”
Understanding where my fears came from
Growing up, if you knew me, I’ve always been more of an introvert. That’s what I thought at least. Because hey, we’re always thrown into those two extra generic categories of being extroverted or introverted… I don’t believe this is a fair way to distinguish one from another anymore.
But truth be told, I always kept to myself, never talked much, only had a handful of friends and barely even hung out with them outside of school (hahah). And yea, there’s that. Socializing outside of school? That’s a thing?!?!
Many tell-tell signs of being an introvert, right?
It was my room, video games, movies, and running track. Even during the majority of my time in college. Classes, frequent dining hall visits, practice, back to my room. You would rarely see me out and about.
I needed to stop fooling myself
I chocked it all up to being an introvert, “just keep to yourself”, “it’s a thing”, “go with it, you’re different, it’s ‘cool’ don’t worry”, “life will be fine.” I taught myself to own it and roll with the punches.
Ended up acting like nothing bothered me. “Never got nervous”, walked around with this, no care attitude, not actually knowing why, or if it was healthy.
I was ok with all of that, up until I realized I was a fool. A FOOL I SAY!!!
It wasn’t confidence. It was not being self aware. I was most definitely NOT “owning it.” The exact opposite actually! I was afraid, running away from it all. Pretending it didn’t exist, casting this huge blanket over everything.
So what changed? What woke me up from this life long delusion?
I decided to do something about it!
Two years ago (Nov 2014), almost to the day, I overcame my fear of public speaking, during an extremely tough and stressful period of my life.
But, I pulled it off without so much as a hiccup.
While preparing for my high school hall of fame induction speak for track and field, there was a very brief moment in time where the fear just disappeared. I said enough with worrying, it is what it is. Everyone gets nervous so just quit it! Everything just clicked after simply telling myself… “We’re all human, going through the same troubles and concerns in our lives.”
I began learning how to allow this statement to control my fears, anxiety attacks, and those bubble gut feelings I used to pretend I never had.
Eventually, I was able to slowing start picking up the pieces.
I began by reevaluating my life. Started asking myself questions like, where did things go wrong? Who am I really? What are the things I want, that are not based on the things other people want? What do I enjoy in life? etc. etc.
It was a ME problem this time, because I’ve been living a “worry about EVERYONE else” lifestyle for far too long.
As these questions kept coming up, and I started answering them, I realized, for most of my life, I’ve allowed others to dictate my wants, needs, likes, dislikes (blah blah blah, you name it), without even knowing it.
My surrounds had so much more power over me than I had over myself. I figured out that this was all due to the fear of worrying about how someone will react, what consequences would I run into, is it right, is it wrong, who will judge me? All these thoughts we should never have to deal with in our lives.
It needed to change. I needed a swift kick where the son don’t shine! And I’m the only one who can do that for myself, because, well, it’s my life. I can’t continue to put that on friends, family, and loved ones. It became clear that outsourcing burdens to others will leave us all unaccountable for the things we need to fix in ourselves.
As Gary Vaynerchuk would say, I started auditing the S#&! out my life. Working towards my strengths, saying f%$& it to my weaknesses, all the while being well aware of them, through-and-through.
BECOMING SELF AWARE!
So, that’s what I’ve set out to do. Becoming self aware. It’s hard work and will take some time to fully grow into it all, but so worth the pain of the process.
After many hours, randomly talking to myself. Arguing, yelling, scolding, debating, laughing, cracking jokes, doubting my decision, trying to predict the future, my brain did not want to settle itself down! It was very funny at times. Just walking around the house having FULL ON conversations, by myself!
Once these thoughts running 1,000,000 miles a minute in my head slowed down, I was able make some honest assessments. I was able to pin point a laundry list of things I needed to work on in order to come out on top of all this, and in control of my life.
As I was able to concentrate a bit more and focus on what mattered, which turns out to be my mental health, happiness, positivity, and just plain enjoying life again. I began reading about some meditation techniques.
A friend pointed me in the direction of Vipassana Meditation. A mind and body connection, allowing you to begin a journey of self exploration, and discipline your mind to reject all impurities. It’s focused on balancing your mind, body, and soul.
This helped me empty all thoughts. Good, bad, ugly, I needed my thoughts to disappear. For just a few moments I was looking for this peaceful emptiness.
Breath. Plain and Simple. BREATH!
Through meditation, breathing became my peace. It became that emptiness I was looking for. Each night and every morning, I would lay for some period of time, solely to empty the thoughts rolling around in my head.
ANY thought. Happy, sad, ugly, positive, cruel, a great memory, a horrible one, a song, conversation, ANYTHING! If something popped up in this brain of mine, I would say… “It doesn’t matter,” “Let it go,” “Breath.” I would eventually begin to dose off. In peace. Just breathing. No thoughts affecting my state of mind.
By continuing to do this every day, I’ve been able to combat any type of stressful or negative situation in my life. And it’s only the beginning.
I still have a long way to go, we all do! We just have to be willing to acknowledge it ourselves, then decide to do something about it, instead of pointing the finger expecting someone else to come save the day.
For me, I know I’m definitely on my way through an amazing journey. It doesn’t even matter which path I take. It all leads to exactly where I’m suppose to be.
In the comment below let me know what helps you overcome your fears, and the stressful situations in your life.