Mental Health Moments: Conquering Your Fears
⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten ⌛
Anxiety makes fear a prevalent occurrence in my life. My mind plays tricks on me and allows fears to pervade my thought processes — even when I know fully well that my thoughts are more on the illogical side.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if I allowed fear to shape my destiny.
How do I combat fear in my life? I do not claim to have all of the answers, and I still deal with fears on a daily basis; however, here are four consistent ways to keep fear at bay:
Just do it.
I am a former acrophobiac, and I would stay away from situations with overbearing heights. I could stand on a back deck or a window a couple of stories up from the ground, but anything with footage in the three digits and above? No, thanks. When I went to Paris for the first time in 2012, I couldn’t let the height of The Eiffel Tower prevent me from achieving a lifelong goal. As a child, I would DREAM of traveling to Paris and looking over The City of Light at the tip top of one of the most famous structures in the world. So, after a series of leg shaking episodes, some vertigo and anxiety, I rode on the elevators to the top, took beautiful photos and conquered a fear. This sounds strange, but since then, I haven’t been nearly as frightened to be up high. I’ve been in a hot air balloon, been on the third-tallest rollercoaster in the world and been to the top of multiple skyscrapers. My adrenaline pumps each time, but I love the feeling. Without that initial motivation, I wouldn’t have experienced so many beautiful views since 2012. My advice? Just do it, even if it scares you. You will feel accomplished, even if you decide to never do it again.
Fear With A View
Sometimes, you have to push through your fears to reach the summit for a beautiful view. Paris, 2012.
Don’t care as much what others think.
As a people pleaser by nature, my inner dialogue has always consisted of fear-induced conversations about what people will think if I do or say certain things. I have always cared what people think about me, and that has derailed my self-esteem and what I have actually what I have wanted to do. So much wasted time goes toward the fear of what others will think. It is something to consider, yes, especially when you’re in the public relations industry like I am. There is a time and place for considering others, but when it overtakes too much of your personal life, that is an issue. You cannot have inner peace when you think too much about what others think and do not focus on your wants and needs. You cannot compete with anyone but who you were yesterday. You cannot grow if you’re in a constant state of inner turmoil.
Celebrate little victories and practice positive self-talk.
No matter the scale, celebrate all victories. It can be something small, like getting out of bed when you’re feeling anxious and not wanting to go anywhere. It can be something on your bucket list, like climbing Mount Everest or finally submitting your first novel manuscript to a publisher. Give yourself a pat on the back for each one. You don’t have to break out the champagne or confetti each time, but it’s vital to practice positive self-talk. The more you engage in positive words and actions, the more confidence you will convey and retain. There is a reason I post my favorite mantras on my desk in my office. When I have a stressful day, I look at them. Even when I’m feeling on top of the world, I still look at them. They keep me grounded and remind me of who I am and what I want to accomplish. We cannot get anywhere when we’re constantly berating ourselves, focusing on our fears and living in a world of shoulds, coulds and maybe-somedays. Do or do not. There is no try.
Confide in someone.
I am fortunate to have a strong support system. When you’re second-guessing a decision or need a voice of reason, talk with someone close to you. This could be a significant other, sibling, best friend, therapist, mentor, support group, whenever. It’s advantageous to get someone else’s perspective that’s outside of your own thought processes. This person can give you a morale boost when you need it the most and be by your side when life’s storms overwhelm you. I am a classic example of bottling my emotions, and eventually, they implode into my everyday life. They usually manifest themselves into the feeling of being overwhelmed, so I bring fear into the equation. I fear that I will feel overwhelmed at the wrong time with the wrong person in the wrong location. The easiest way to prevent this sense of mass overwhelm is to talk it out with someone, no matter your level of stubborn pride. (Hint: I have a high level.)
Please note: These blog posts are not clinical, although we will provide symptoms and other information. These posts are based on my experiences with anxiety and mental health in general.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit a website like Mental Health America to learn more.
Mental Health Moments blog posts are every other Tuesday of the month. Our CEO and contributors highlight what it's like to live with a mental health disorder and continue to fight the stigma through storytelling.
Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.