Go ahead… jump!

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll back up a bit.

I am a copywriter, but I can’t help but post this for all my friends out there handicapped by fear. I was once plagued by social anxiety. My first panic attack left me terrified. What was happening to me? Was I dying?

My typical way of dealing with problems (mainly because I’m a nerd) is to study the heck out of it. I read and watched everything I could get my hands on to find out what was wrong with me. I heard advice from so many people as to what I should do to cure myself. Want to hear a few?

  • Eat less gluten
  • Lose weight
  • Workout
  • Meditate
  • Belly Breath
  • And my favorite — tap these certain pressure points on your body until it subsides.

Now I’m not saying that all of these are useless, but none of them cured me. I was frantically filling my fridge with all these new foods and walking a lot and honestly feeling more and more panic as to whether these things were going to work or not.

“I have got work to do and deadlines to meet. I don’t have time to deal with this and if this keeps up, I’m going to lose my job”. 

So what helped me?

I’ll tell you and I won’t even charge you $19.95 plus shipping and handling to do it. Here is the secret. It’s called the “Rule of Opposites”. Whatever your fears are telling you not to do — do it anyway. Jump. Face your fear and learn how utterly ridiculous they were to begin with.

You see anxiety is like a kid in a toy store. At first he is quiet and then he sees something he wants and starts tugging on the pants of Mom or Dad for attention. He begs. If he is not appeased, he throws a fit. Well no one wants to cause a scene, so what do you do? You give him what he wants of course. Here is the problem. Sure, he is quiet now, but when he sees something else that he wants, what do you think he is going to do? He is going to do what he knows will work. He is going to scream his head off.

Your fears are like that. Obey them and they get louder and more confident. They want total control of you — to shame you. Don’t obey them and they (not you) are put to shame.

We all know that most fears related to anxiety are nonsense. We know they are irrational. We just can’t help but listen because they have somehow hijacked our nervous system and are playing hop-scotch on it. We sweat, lose our appetite and our hearts beat ninety miles a minute. Since it is now physiological, we assume we better not fight it. So we obey and it gets worse.

Most people struggle (as I did) with something called “Anticipation Anxiety”. It’s the anxiety you get when you know something is coming up (a plane ride, a speech or oral report, a social gathering). We see our anxiety spike usually the night before the event, if not minutes before. That’s the bad news. The good news is that 90% of that anxiety goes down the instant you are actually in the situation. All of it goes away minutes after.

Anxiety thrives on ignorance. The vacuum of uncertainty is where it grows and flourishes. Once you are in the situation, reality sets in and it goes away. They say that those who do public speaking notice that literally, within the first minute, the anxiety they felt before has almost entirely dissipated.

Trust me on this. If you are ever going to see your anxiety go away, you won’t do it by chanting or by spending 30 minutes on an exercise bike. Those things might help, but the only way you will ever see it go away completely, is by doing what you are afraid to do. Once you have experienced that there is nothing to be afraid of, your brain will record it and you can remind yourself the next time. I remember writing on a piece of paper these words after leaving an event I was ridden with anxiety over…

It is now 2:30 pm

I have just finished.

It was amazing and I felt total peace the whole time.

Little by little it gets easier. Run away and it will get harder. Stick in there and don’t quit. That little brat called “Fear” needs to be shown a thing or two and only you can do it.

There is no feeling on earth like watching this giant hit the dirt.

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