This One Phrase Changed Everything About How I Deal with Fear
You Can Use This In Any Area of Your Life
I used to live my life in a constantly fearful state, to be honest.
Call it anxiety, call it a pessimistic nature, call it a negative mindset...whatever it was, I lived with an almost 24/7 sense of doom and gloom, just waiting for something bad to happen. And when something bad did happen, I'd totally wig out and feel like I just couldn't handle it.
Sound at all familiar? It's an exhausting way to live, but live it I did, for a couple decades.
I think many of us operate this way and don't talk about it. I know I didn't realize there was any other way, or that not everyone lived their lives in this constant-anxious state. It was totally exhausting and draining for my mood and entire sense of happiness to be at the mercy of circumstances and external, out-of-my-control situations, but I actually thought it was a good thing -- I claimed I was a "realist," and felt that by being constantly pretty dang paranoid, I was just being smart by keeping my guard up.
This all started to change a few years ago though, spurred from one key event.
I bought, after just a few months of thinking about it, an old RV, a 27-foot long class C, named Francine, to be exact, and left by myself to travel cross-country, with everything I owned and my cat, and nothing more than a rough plan of where I'd go.
F*ck Your Comfort Zone
All of a sudden, my life looked like something out a novel and had no rhyme or reason.
No more type A, OCD life plans, no bullet point schedule, no daily routines. Everything was thrown up in the air, as I quite literally figured out my life day by day, campsite by campsite, often waking up and not knowing where I'd go to sleep that night.
Talk about a fear-laden situation for someone with an overly anxious brain, right?
Surprisingly, The More I Threw Myself at Fear, the Less Scared I Felt
The funny thing was, though I was living my life flying by the seat of my pants in the most extreme way I could imagine, and though I was often scared, anxious, white-knuckling it, literally, my constant-fear-state started to simmer down.
I started to learn, the more you get outside of your comfort zone, the more you know you actually are tougher than you thought.
You Can Apply This to Any Area of Your Life
Overthinking a tattoo? Get a walk-in tattoo... I worked myself up for years about how bad it would hurt, and then, it really didn't. Fear of tattoos? Gone.
Self-conscious and scared about people judging your body? I've chosen to become a bikini competitor, which is the most literal way to put myself out there and have my body ogled that I could think of (at least, that's legal and something I'd want to do, hah), and it's literally making my body fears evaporate.
Self-conscious about your looks and hiding behind your hair? This was me. So I cut it off...like, shaved on the sides off.
The Phrase That Changed it All
One snowy day in Colorado, where I used to live, I called my mom while on a walk, in tears about a tough life decision I was trying to make; a fork in the road situation where I felt on the edge of a choice that could potentially change everything.
(Spoiler alert...I ended up going for the scarier option of the two, and so thankful I did!)
She told me to pick up the book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, which I did, as soon as I got off on the phone and pulled up Amazon.
She told me the phrase that's the key focus of the book, "whatever happens, you can handle it," and though I didn't totally get it until reading it, I now use that phrase countless times a week if not daily.
I HIGHLY recommend you read the book cover to cover, but the basic thing to remember is, no matter what happens, you can handle it. If you remember that, it changes everything.
It's not about beating fear down or convincing yourself you're not afraid...that doesn't work. It's about realizing, no matter what comes your way, you're capable. If you remember that, fear has literally no power over you. The book explains, it's not that successful people are fearless...it's just that they know they got this.
I'd add to that, remember other times in your life when you were afraid. That first date that made you feel like puking, that oh-so-scary job interview, that time you wrecked your car, or got laid off, or got sick, or got dumped. You survived 100% of those things or you wouldn't be reading this. It probably wasn't super fun, but you handled that shit.
Whatever you're going through, or will go through, I hope you remember this. I keep this phrase tucked away for scary times, which are still frequent -- if you're not ever afraid, you're not living a full life, but I now know, no matter what my brain is telling me or how afraid or nervous I feel, I can handle it.
If you liked this post, check out my piece I wrote on in-the-moment fear, while I was traveling in my RV, here.
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