I recently had the incredible experience of being on national television- I appeared on CTV’s Canada AM for a full three plus minutes talking about Orthorexia- a type of eating disorder which is defined as the “obsession with healthy eating”. Here’s the link: www.itsnotaboutthefood.net
The reason I want to share this experience with you is because I know a lot of you struggle with anxiety in it’s many different guises-social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and phobias of various descriptions. Every day in my practise, I work with at least one person who is recovering from some anxiety issue and I am so grateful to be able to give her the tools she needs in order to lessen the often, debilitating symptoms of this particular affliction.
I too, suffer from anxiety in many forms. It is my hope that sharing my experience of conquering one fear in particular will both inspire and encourage you to conquer some of yours. My worst fear happens to be public speaking. So you can imagine the absolute dread and horror I felt upon being asked to appear LIVE on national television! However, as a psychotherapist who helps other women work through their fears and come out the other side, I felt it was my duty to walk the talk and be an example of someone who meets her fears head-on, blows a ‘raspberry’ in their face and forges on into the unknown.
So even though I was absolutely terrified of going on television – I spent at least two nights writhing in bed unable to sleep because of all the horrible things I imagined would go wrong – I decided I would do it NO MATTER HOW SCARED I WAS. I had approximately one month to prepare for my television debut, and it meant flying to Toronto from my cosy, safe little home on the West Coast. Oh, I should also mention here that FLYING is my other worst fear… so needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to that part either.
Now, I’d like to share with you the tools I used to lessen my fear and force myself to do something that terrified me in hopes that these same tools will help you accomplish things you now feel are impossible.
Esther’s five top tools for overcoming anxiety
- Always think about the bigger picture.
In other words, remind yourself why you would put yourself through hell in the first place. In my case, I reminded myself constantly that the purpose for going on television was to help people who struggle with disordered eating and to reach a much wider audience than I can seeing one client at a time in a small town.
- Remind yourself of what you can look forward to after the scary event is over.
Here, I imagined how proud I’d be of myself for going through my fear and coming out the other side, as well as the fact that once I had been on TV, I could do it again without as much fear and this would bring wonderful career opportunities.
- Give yourself a pat on the back for achieving your goal.
I did this literally in the cab right after I finished the interview and silently said to myself, “Way to go, girl!” This made me grin from ear to ear as I allowed myself to soak in what I had accomplished. It was such a sweet feeling and I am so glad I made it through my fear in order to have that lovely experience of ‘revelling’ in the feeling of accomplishment.
- Write down all of the things you are worried will go wrong and then challenge each one.
This is an incredibly powerful tool for exorcising those ‘worry monsters’ once and for all. For example, one of my fears was that I would be so anxious while being interviewed that I would forget everything I had prepared to talk about and that I would either sit there looking dumbfounded at the interviewer or else blab on about things that weren’t directly related to what she was asking me. So I wrote this fear down and then next to it, wrote out all the reasons why this most likely would not occur. To give you an idea, one of my comebacks to this fear was, “This is a topic I know about from years of personal and professional experience and even if I forget what I had planned to say, I still know enough about it to come across as an expert in this area.”
- HAVE FUN! I like to remind myself, as well my clients, that life is not an endurance test.
We’re supposed to enjoy the ride and have fun in many of the things we do. We don’t have to take life so seriously- anxious people, I find, take life much too seriously and this creates tension in the body. When we start to loosen up and play more, we automatically relax. So before I went on TV, I looked in the bathroom mirror and smiled and yelled out, “I’m so excited! This is going to be a hoot!” And while I was faking it at the time, it eventually did turn into excitement and I had a lot of fun.
When you take a risk that you find scary but is incredibly rewarding, send me an email with the story and I may just put it in an up-coming e-zine to empower and inspire other women! (It can be anonymous if you wish). Send your story to: firstname.lastname@example.org