I couldn’t talk.
My throat closed up tight, choking me. My mouth went dry. My hands didn’t move.
A drop of sweat trickled down my body as sheer panic washed all over me.
I opened my mouth to talk, to ask for help, but no words came out.
It happened every time the teacher asked me a question. Or a neighbour said “Hello!”. Or a stranger stopped me on the street.
It’s called selective mutism. It’s an anxiety disorder. You can talk to your family and friends all day long but as soon as you start to feel a little bit uncomfortable, your body shuts down and you’re unable to talk.
The worst thing is that no one believes you. Physically, there’s nothing wrong with you so you must be making it up. Being stubborn to get out of things you don’t want to do.
It’s the opposite. Selective mutism got me out of things I DID want to do but was too scared to.
Like taking part in school plays with all my friends. Or get a summer job to earn a little extra money. Or go to a party where that cute guy I had a crush on would be.
So many opportunities lost. So many regrets. So many things I wish I could do differently.
Eventually, I won my battle against selective mutism. But the war against fear and anxiety isn’t over. I doubt it ever will.
But, over the years, I’ve learned how to handle them. Because, like you, I’ve got big dreams. And I refuse to let anything stand in the way of them. I refuse to have any more regrets.
Do you feel the same? Here are my top 5 tips to feel the fear and do it anyway. They work for me and I hope they will work for you, too.
1. Accept Your Feelings
“What you resist, persists.” – Carl Jung
The more you try to avoid fear, the more it haunts you. Ironic, isn’t it?
But think about the last time you refused to do something you were scared of. Did the fear go away because the danger was over?
Nope. You’re still terrified of it.
Avoiding fear doesn’t make it go away. If anything, it makes you feel powerless and insecure. It makes you doubt yourself and feel like you’re not good enough.
So, the first step is to acknowledge you feel fear. Say to yourself, “I’m afraid but it’s ok. We all feel fear every now and then. It’s totally normal.”
Don’t you feel better already?
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2. Question Your Fear
Too often, we let fear do all the talking:
“You aren’t good enough to start your own business.”
“If you say no to your friend’s request, she will hate you and won’t talk to you anymore.”
“If you fail, you will lose your job, your money and your friends. You’ll become homeless too.”
“If you become successful, you will lose all your friends. They’ll think you’ve become too big for your boots.”
Wait if you tried to talk back?
Say something like, “why ain’t I good enough? Is it because I don’t have enough knowledge or experience in how to start a business? How can I learn them?”
See, when you talk back to your fear, not only you realise those thoughts aren’t true but you also get into problem solving mode and find new, creative ways to reach your goals.
Take that, fear!
3. Go Back To Your Why
Why do you want to start a business/write a book/become an actress/fill-in-the-gap-with-your-dream?
Is it because you want to be famous and have a lot of money? Or is it because you have an idea for a product that could improve people’s lives, an important message you want to spread to the world, a talent you want to put to good use?
Get clear on your why. If it’s strong enough, it’ll give you all the motivation you need to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Because if you don’t, it’s not just you who misses out. The whole world does, too.
4. What Are The Consequences Of Doing Nothing?
Fear makes you think that if you do nothing, if you refuse to go after your dreams, you’ll be safe.
It’s a lie.
Doing nothing is more painful than facing your fears. You’re stuck where you are, doing the same old things you always did.
But every day, the tinge of regret bites a little harder, gnaws a little deeper, grows a little bigger. And you start wondering, is that all there is?
Until you get so uncomfortable, the only option is to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Related: Why You Must Risk Delight
5. Take Care Of Yourself
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that my fear and anxiety levels go through the roof every time I stop taking good care of myself.
Exercise, a good night’s sleep, a diet full of fruits and vegetables and a few minutes of “me time” every day aren’t luxuries. They’re the foundations for good mental health.
When you didn’t sleep for a week or your stomach’s grumbling, the smallest thing stresses you out. You’re more likely to see the glass half empty. Everything seems worse than it is.
When things start getting overwhelming, have a bite to eat or go to bed an hour early. The next morning you’ll feel better and the world will look a brighter place.
If you need more help in starting a self-care routine, click the image below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the “Self-Love Menu.” It has 30+ ideas to help you sprinkle more self-love into your day:
We’re all scared. The trick is to feel the fear and do it anyway. You’ve got this, gorgeous.
Over to you, now. What tricks do you use to push yourself past the fear and do it anyway? Share them in the comments below.