For as long as I can remember, I have dealt with anxiety.
Growing up, every decision or new experience would give me anxiety. My brain would go in circles trying to think through every possible scenario of what could go wrong. Even the small, day-to-day decisions would send me in a spiral of pros and cons lists and rethinking constantly.
It was exhausting! But honestly, I didn’t think there was any other way to live. I thought it was normal to overthink and be physically exhausted at the end of every day just from the energy my brain was exerting from the worry.
Anxiety is what made me an overthinking perfectionist. I wanted to follow rules to the exact order. I would hesitate to say things or share my writing because I just assumed it wasn’t perfect. Anxiety dimmed my light for far too long.
Along with daily anxiety, I would also experience fear regularly. I was always overly aware of what was going on around me and looking for danger. I would be worried and afraid if a loved one didn’t answer my call right away, fearing something bad happened. Anxiety and fear had such a strong hold over me for years of my life.
It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to be trapped by these emotions anymore. I didn’t want that part of me dictating my every move and holding me back from new experiences. I decided I was going to finally get to the root of what was causing me to feel this way, no matter how hard it was.
I started to read every self-help book that I could get my hands on. I started a daily journaling practice where I could really start to pay attention to why and when I was feeling certain emotions. I could start to see patterns for when my anxiety was heightened. There’s something freeing in journaling because once you start to name the emotions, they don’t seem so scary or unmanageable anymore.
Along with my own reading and creating routines, I sought the help of a therapist. I worked with her for eight months during a particularly challenging point in my life, and words can’t really express how life-changing it was. I believe everyone should work with a therapist.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to use distractions to hide from these emotions. I wasn’t scared of them anymore. I had full confidence in myself that I could handle whatever I was feeling and experiencing. I promise it’s possible for you too.
Once I got to the root of these tough emotions that I experienced all my life, they started to lessen. Those voices in my head telling me to stay in my comfort zone weren’t so loud anymore. They were losing the power over me that they once had.
When I started feeling freedom for the first time in my life, I knew that my life purpose was to help other people who struggled the way I did. I just knew that I am here to help other women feel confident in themselves, go after their dreams, and enjoy their life to the fullest.
My own journey is what inspired me to share my writing publicly and create coaching programs. I want to share all the amazing lessons I have learned through life’s tough moments and inspire other people to live more freely.
While I still experience anxiety and fear from time to time, it no longer consumes me. I know how to move through those emotions now and learn whatever it is they are teaching me. Instead of ruling my brain and life, these emotions shine light to where I need to show more love to myself and others.
And now I want to share my process for moving through these emotions with you. I know that so many of us experience these frequently, and it can feel isolating when they appear. Just know that you are never alone in what you are feeling.
So next time those emotions pop up or you can’t seem to shake them, implement this four-step process and get back to feeling like yourself. I have full faith that you can do it!
My process for moving through fear and anxiety:
1. Remove distractions and name the feeling.
Typically, when a feeling like fear shows up, we immediately grab our favorite distraction like binging reality TV (I’m guilty!). Anything is better than feeling a negative emotion, right? Well, no. The longer we avoid feeling the fear, the louder it gets. That’s because fear is there to teach us something, so when we ignore it, it will become more apparent until we fully face it.
So next time you feel it coming on, take a moment and sit with yourself. Name the feeling; is it anxiety, doubt, nervousness? This is why I love to have a journaling practice because I can write out whatever I am feeling and get those thoughts onto paper. When we name the feeling, we will realize that it is stemming from something deeper.
When I was early on in my dating journey to find love, I would get anxious if I didn’t hear back from a date or when someone ghosted me. Instead of distracting myself, I took the time to write out what I was feeling. I realized that my anxiety stemmed from a deep-held belief that I would never find love, and someone ghosting me was proof that it was true. Identifying the fear was empowering because I realized I could choose a new belief, one that supported me.
Once we can name the fear, we are that much closer to moving past it.
2. Understand where fear is coming from.
Once we are able to name the fear, we can now start to identify where it’s coming from (like the example from my dating journey). This is exactly what I do with clients when they are feeling stuck or unsure of a big decision. Naming and understanding the fear is so freeing!
Maybe we are anxious about an upcoming presentation at work. Or maybe we are nervous to put ourselves out there and be judged by others. This was a huge one for me when I first started sharing my writing and talking about my coaching services. I was deathly afraid of what people would think of me. I have a great reframe for this belief that I work through with clients!
More often than not, feelings like these stem from a limiting belief. Keep questioning the feeling to get to the root of it. Most limiting beliefs that stop us are fear of failure, fear of judgement, and fear of the unknown. Grab your journal and write out what is stopping you and the feelings that are coming up.
Keep questioning and asking why am I feeling this way? You’ll soon realize that most fears and anxieties lead to similar deep-held beliefs.
3. Reframe the fear.
Once we identified the fear and found the root cause, we can now start to reframe the situation. Reframe simply means to find a different meaning or belief around an event. At the core, life is just the meaning we give it, so why not think in a way that supports us?
Instead of thinking a new situation is bad or scary, what lessons can we learn from it? What was the fear trying to protect us from? If you are anxious about failing at something, start to tell yourself that there is no failure—only feedback. You can start to uncover why your beliefs are holding you back and if that’s benefiting you in anyway (hint: it’s not).
When it comes to dating and finding love, I love to use this line of thinking with clients because it puts the power back in their hands. How can we apply it to our love life? Maybe that guy didn’t call us back because he wasn’t ready for commitment. Maybe we haven’t met our soul mate yet because it’s not the right time. This way of reframing changes our perception of life from scarcity and pessimism to that of optimism.
4. Move the energy out of the body.
Now onto the fun step! You’ve done the un-glamorous work of naming the feeling and finding the deeper meaning. I also want to mention an important caveat: sometimes there is no deeper meaning. We may be anxious because we didn’t sleep well last night or we haven’t eaten in a while. Please pay attention to your body and give it what it needs!
So now that you have faced the fear, it is no longer needed. This step is crucial because if you don’t have a way to move through the energy, it will keep showing up in different ways. Trapped emotions might lead to illness and ailments; please don’t keep it in you.
The best way to move the energy out of the body is totally up to you. It’s whatever way feels good to you, and most importantly, one that you will enjoy doing. Maybe it’s cranking up your favorite song and dancing in your living room. Maybe it’s playing an instrument or coloring.
My absolute favorite way to move energy that is highly underrated is walking. I love to walk. Walking is not only good for you physically, it also gets your creative juices flowing with new ideas. And best part of all, it’s completely free!
Moving energy does not have to be complicated or expensive. Move your body in anyway that feels best and you’ll be feeling better in no time.
So there, you have it! My process for moving through fear and anxiety. I promise that you don’t have to let those heavier emotions isolate or trap you. Take your power back and feel more confident than ever.