Overcoming Anxiety One Step at a Time

I love this book and the work that Bessel Van Der Kolk does. I was reading this today and thinking through the different ways I had to learn to ignore how I felt and ask myself how I can take my next step to reconnection and moving forward from fear.

Honesty with myself is always the best policy. And looking at where I'm afraid to step forward and speak about how terrifying something in my life can be, especially as I'm well and truly an adult now, I even ask myself why am I afraid?

Overcoming any fear takes action. Changing thoughts and emotions can be doable, but it's in taking action that I've found, using my brain, body and breath all together so they experience and create memories that I am safe, I don't have to be afraid. Doing this has dramatically reduced my anxiety and for that I'm grateful.

I found sitting in the anxiety at home does not work. The brain is constantly looping on replaying the anxiety trigger. Getting out continues to help. Today, shopping, a guy offered me his Woolworths points if I waited for his shopping to go through. I politely said no thank you. 

Once upon a time I wouldn't have even made eye contact with him, let alone smiled and said hello. Now I can do this. However, the challenge came when he literally wouldn't take no for an answer, and kept insisting, even though I repeatedly said no thank you. I thought I was managing it okay, but no. I broke out in the perspiration of anxiety, grabbed my trolley and said to Chloe "let's go." 

And this is the challenge in reconnecting. People can mean well, absolutely. But if they won't accept my no then it's going to trigger the automatic fear response, which then I end up upset and embarrassed by, because it's not who I am. I don't want to explain it to him because I don't want a stranger feeling bad when they meant no harm. 

I then have to ask myself what do I do next? I know the answer as I've been doing it for some years now. Keep going out, keep smiling, keep saying hello, and keep saying no. Today my body and brain experienced I was safe despite having the fear response. And I will use it if this happens again. I'll remind myself that I can manage the situation, and the more I do that, the more things like this will no longer be a trigger for me.

I share this in the hope that you also can be brave and take the one next step to retraining your body and brain that life is safe and it is manageable today.

"In our society the most common traumas in women and children occur at the hands of their parents or intimate partners. Child abuse, molestation, and domestic violence all are inflicted by people who are supposed to love you. That knocks out the most important protection against being traumatized: being sheltered by the people you love.

If the people whom you naturally turn to for care and protection terrify or reject you, you learn to shut down and to ignore what you feel. When your caregivers turn on you, you have to find alternative ways to deal with feeling scared, angry, or frustrated. Managing your terror all by yourself gives rise to another set of problems: dissociation, despair, addictions, a chronic sense of panic, and relationships that are marked by alienation, disconnection, and explosions." Bessel Van Der Kolk THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE | Chapter 13 - Healing from Trauma: Owning Yourself

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