Mental Health has been a subject well promoted in recent years to create awareness, and for good reason.
After all we all have Mental Health, which impacts every aspect of who we are, the decisions we make and how we cope day to day with the people in our life and circumstances around us and includes our Self- Esteem levels; how we feel and think about ourselves and how Confident we are in our abilities and skills.
Maintaining a healthy Mental Health is essential and priceless, it is different for each one of us. It could be things like; being in nature, doing regular exercise, appreciating music, getting immersed in the arts, and spending time with treasured family, friends and pets – I call it ‘Soul Food’
There are times, for many reasons, when Mental Health could be compromised. No one person is beyond a Mental Health concern, issue, disorder or illness. 1 in 4 people at any one time – from all walks of life. It will always be unique to the sufferer, how it affects them and the people around them. Examples are; Stress, Anxiety, Depression, or Phobias, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Neurosis, Addiction, and various other psychological / psychiatric disorders. So, understanding Mental Health is only a good thing, of course, to understand ourselves better, to help people help themselves and to support each other if we can – should our Mental Health falter.
Talking about how we feel if experiencing a Mental Health concern or having someone around who is, like a loved one or work colleague, is important, to start the process of getting valuable help and support, and getting on the road to recovery or learning how to manage the issue and realising we are not on our own.
Making that first step towards seeking help when you are struggling with your own Mental Health or that of someone around you, can take a lot of confidence and courage, but you will be glad you did – there is real strength in it, in no way is it a weakness.
There are many incredible people out there doing their best to cope with and help others, and there is also much support from great organisations, health professionals and therapists, helping us to understand ourselves and others, and what we, or they could be going through. It can sometimes be difficult finding the right support and help initially to suit you – don’t give up though, it is out there, and you can build a good support network for yourself, your family and in the workplace.
Sadly, I’ve seen a few posts recently dissing people around not supporting or understanding Mental Health concerns in others. To my mind we need to all be a bit more supportive of each other and I feel there are a few factors to consider before judging others, which prompted this article.
For most people it isn’t that they don’t care about people who may be having a tough time with their Mental Health, it’s more than likely that they don’t understand, as understanding Mental Health issues is not always easy, and people don’t always know what the right thing is to do and can fear saying or doing the wrong thing.
Some Mental Health issues are actually very complex, don’t make sense and don’t seem ‘logical’ and are difficult to understand. They are also completely unique to the person with the issue / concern or disorder, though there can be certain commonalities.
Sometimes the person affected can cease to ‘see’ the people around them and the impact their current state has on others, which can be hard to deal with and difficult for the people around them to make sense of. It can be upsetting to be around distressing behaviour that you don’t understand and not knowing what to do to help. Many people will try in the best way they know how – without always getting positive results from the person they want to help (for many reasons) and can be left feeling frustrated, hurt, upset, bewildered, and stressed themselves.
There can also be occasions when a person experiencing an issue will hide it, or deny there is a problem, especially from those closest to them, which of course means it is difficult to support them. This could be to protect others, or maybe through fear of losing their job, the possible risk of stigma, being misunderstood or bullied (thankfully things are starting to change for the better on that score).
Some people do fear and are wary Mental Health issues; maybe they have ‘been there’ themselves or had experience of a family member or close friend in their past and it’s too painful to revisit, and they just can’t cope with someone else’s challenging upsetting behaviour at that time.
We can have the most wonderful events, things to strive for and work towards which needs our energy and attention, or our own genuine concerns and stresses to deal with, like having a physical illness, our own Mental Health issues or times when we’re facing something challenging, getting used to a change and dealing with something new, or are feeling hurt, dealing with a tragedy or loss, that is the focus at that time, or just being incredible busy with work and family life.
Life happens and can take over for all of us!
Sometimes people want or need to get on with their own lives, for their own reasons, we can all identify with that. It’s not selfish to and it’s not because they don’t care, but everyone needs times when they put themselves first, to be at their best, to be ok for their own well-being and also to be ok enough to cope with issues and challenges facing them or a person close to them, or to just get on with their jobs and family life. Maybe they are deciding to take the time to enjoy life, the people around them, celebrate achievements and how far they have come -challenges they may have overcome themselves – which is important.
Most people are kind and supportive and doing their very best, however no one is ‘perfect’ and everyone is capable of getting things wrong, making judgments, and hurting people – without the intention to, or maybe just don’t know what to do, so do nothing.
We all have times where we have felt we can’t cope ourselves, let alone with another person too and don’t want to – it isn’t wrong, just human.
A good thing to remember is; regardless of what is going on for you or others ‘You are doing the best you can in every moment, with what you know at the time, and so is everybody else – until you find a better way’
Most Mental Health issues can be overcome or learnt to be managed in a better way. There is definitely hope.
Life’s wonderful experiences and challenges teach us every step of the way – if we choose to and are ready to learn from them and being or feeling ready to face some challenges is key.
Every one of us walks our own path, at our own pace, with its highs and the lows.
Try your best to be kind to yourself and everyone around you
If you’ve read this far – thank You and I’d love to have your thoughts
How many of us have not ever had Confidence or anxiety issues?
You would be surprised!
Most people at some time in their lives – why?
Because – we are all human:
We are people, with a heart, with feelings and emotions, people with many positive and negative experiences that have moulded how we feel about ourselves and how we deal with the world around us, and the people in it.
We all have those times when we feel on top of the world and times when we really are at rock bottom, but mostly we’re in-between.
We can all have a low opinion of ourselves sometimes and beat up on ourselves! Be our own worst critic – putting ourselves down. Spending time worrying about what others think.
We can also have times where we feel out of control, or very much out of our comfort zone, lacking in confidence in our abilities, which can stop us moving forward. Or we spend time taking on board another’s opinion of us, that does nothing to inspire or encourage.
Have you ever felt fearful about taking on something new, or meeting new people, so that you end up avoiding it? Not gone for a new job, a promotion, on a date, or a holiday, because you don’t feel confident enough and worry it may all go wrong? Ever felt like you have dissolved when circumstances are challenging? Taken on too much for other people – forgetting yourself? Felt guilty for putting yourself first, so then haven’t gone for what you really want? Felt like you can’t say NO! or stayed in toxic relationships – trying so hard to gain the love and approval you feel you need, that will never happen, not feeling good enough or worthy of better? Then you could have a low Self-esteem – how you feel about yourself.
If you lack a positive Self-esteem, have a low Self-worth; so do not value, like or love yourself very much, then mostly you can trudge on, not feeling unhappy all of the time, but not feeling truly fulfilled or like you are being your best self and living the life you want or waiting for and expecting everything to come crashing down. Maybe feeling lost, like you don’t fit in anywhere and not really knowing who you are. Not sticking up for yourself or your values, then constantly dealing with the result of poor decisions or negative thinking.
There is a myriad of reasons as to why you can feel this way, but you can untangle it all and learn to Love, Like and Respect yourself and regain control over who you are and who you want to be. Finding the confidence and courage to take off all masks, rather than wearing the many masks you think you need to wear to suit others, revealing your true self and being authentic to who you are, which brings so much joy and enrichment into your life.
Some people completely disregard any sort of self-development and help with working on how you feel about yourself, however once you do take that step, the results are incredible.
When you feel empowered to Love, Believe, Respect and Trust in yourself and let go of negative thoughts and feelings; you start to build resilience (*bounce back) and look forward to challenges that help you to expand your comfort zone. You learn to see circumstances and people differently and shrug off what others think, because an opinion is only an opinion, formed from wherever that other person is at, and the only opinion you decide counts about You, is the one You have.
You start to take purposeful steps forward and enjoy life more, and look to what is positive, and take any ‘negatives’ ‘failures’ ‘mistakes’ and challenges, as amazing learning opportunities for understanding and growth, which means any fears you may have had – vanish – and you learn to literally *bounce back from anything.
You learn to celebrate yourself and all of your achievements. Believe in You and give yourself the approval you deserve and turn to see life through a different bigger brighter more positive window, regardless of any negative circumstances or people around you.
Importantly – you feel – really feel – Happy.
It all sounds cliched to say ‘learn to Love and Like yourself’ but when you do – something magical happens…
Really truly it does, because no-one can or will hurt you, or put you down, because your Love and Respect for yourself is an impenetrable glorious armour, and you shine so bright from the inside out that those negative people around you start to fear your light and don’t even come near, and your life fills up with those people who celebrate and champion you, as you do them.
Self-development involves many little steps and courage in taking responsibility for yourself; it can sometimes be pretty challenging to hold up the mirror!
It requires a lot of letting go of negative habitual thought processes and letting go of past negatives – once you’ve taken the lesson from the experience! It may involve others not appreciating the new positive self-loving You, but there will be those people who applaud it, and before you know it – you’re taking Leaps.
There are many ways to do this on your own, but it is an even more amazing experience with the support and encouragement of others.
SELF-LOVE, BELIEF, RESPECT and TRUST is priceless and immeasurable in how much your whole life, and the people you hold close to your heart, is positively and beautifully enhanced.
You matter – we all do.
we have covered such a lot today, including Self-Limiting beliefs and how to re-frame them.
why we fear change – and even though we start a change, why we may not continue and then strategies to help you move forward with the changes you want to make, and how to sustain the change
Also – about how to look after YOU, being your own best friend, giving yourself a break, and ME time, and scheduling it in to your diary as essential!
and how to have the confidence to say NO and the positive impact that can have for you
You can learn to be more confident in yourself and your abilities, to help you in all areas of your life.
have a look at my YouTube video clip – Andrea
There are many areas of our Health and Well-being that we can focus on; exercising to gain strength; working on a good posture; eating a well balanced diet, for health generally and to maintain a healthy weight.
If we have a physical problem causing pain, or embarrassment, we will seek help. At Holcombe Health Clinic, where I hire a room, there is such a wonderful variety of expertise available.
All of the above also have an affect on your Mental Well-being- we know how amazing exercise is for making you feel better in yourself, or how much better you feel when irradiating physical pain, or seeing and feeling the benefits eating more healthily.
I work on the area of Mental Well-being, your Mental Health, in many different ways, helping you to understand how your mind works, how to manage Stress and Anxiety and develop and grow your Confidence and Self-esteem.
Our Mental Well-being is so important to how we function on a day to day basis, how productive we are, and it affects whether we try new things, reach our potential, go for a new job / promotion, how we perform in exams and it affects our relationships – whether with family, friends, work colleagues, and our personal relationships, and most importantly the relationship we have with ourselves.
Stress and Anxiety
Many of us will have had times we have felt stressed, and will understand how it affects our ability to make decisions, increasing the risk of making mistakes, it affects our sleep and causes muscle tension and headaches etc… generally stress is temporary, and when the cause of the stress is resolved- we take a sigh of relief. If stress is prolonged it can cause many other health concerns, so learning to manage stress is important.
Anxiety is something different, but stress can cause anxiety and vice-versa.
Anxiety is generally fear of what may happen in the future – anxiety and fear causes our body to release adrenaline so we are ready to Fight Fright (freeze) Flight (run – or avoid altogether) This is a natural process and is especially useful to us when we are under genuine threat, by keeping us safe or to help us survive. When someone is a ‘sufferer of Anxiety’- then you are in an almost permanent state of Fight Fright Flight to a threat that is mostly not real, our imagination is a powerful thing, however, this usually happens for very good reason. This prolonged state can understandably cause exhaustion and like stress, affect sleep too.
The good news is, that once you understand Stress and Anxiety you can manage it and feel human and normal, for you, again.
Mindfulness is a great way to start- as bringing yourself into the present moment and being present with yourself has a calming effect- just focusing on your breath or taking 3 slow meaningful breaths can help. Just taking time out in nature – even 10 minutes is very beneficial, there are studies around how amazing being outside is for us and our mental well-being, especially being around trees or in lovely open expanses. Another great tool is music, as it has a powerful affect on our mood, and can change our mood in an instant, so having calming or uplifting upbeat music can really help you feel better. Animals also can have a very calming effect, get you out, or make you laugh. Laughter is also incredibly at shifting mood.
Confidence and Self-Esteem
Stress and Anxiety can also have an impact on your Confidence levels. Many things can dent your confidence, and we are all the same in that respect, and may feel more confident in one situation and not another. Confidence therefore can fluctuate depending on circumstances and experiences. Confidence is an ‘intangible’ thing – a feeling, and different for us all, and is also linked to our skills and knowledge and how confident we feel in our ability to deliver what is needed, or to speak out and / or help ourselves or help others.
Where there are deeper confidence issues and low self-esteem (how you feel about yourself) can greatly impact many life decisions, maybe not going for what you want and ‘putting up’ with situations and people. Essentially, it is about your self-worth and feeling confident enough to stick up for You, or to go to an exercise class, or address weight issues, or to go on a date and crucially to say No to what you don’t want.
I find that for many people I see, it has taken enormous courage to take the first step. Once you do, it is important to go at the pace that suits you. Most people fear change, because it is a ‘threat’ to us, an unknown! So small sustainable steps are best.
One thing that can help- is to write down your achievements – start with little things like when you learnt to read and write, maybe you learnt to ride a bike, swim 100 meters… and then keep going! You’ll be amazed.
Also Gratitude is so powerful and positive, think of all the things you are grateful for, small things and big things; like having running water, a lovely close friend, a park nearby, for pets, or things and people who make you smile – this is a great exercise to do daily – get a note book and write down 3 things that made you smile – and do it at the end of every day, this switches your mind to think of the positives – even if the day wasn’t the best day.
I really hope that this helps
Please do contact me if you would like to know more about what I do.
Could 80 / 20 work for you? and help you take the pressure off yourself, in order to perform better and be more productive, and ultimately feel happier.
Around this time of year, some people can feel they have let themselves or others down, by not achieving the goal of a New Year’s resolution.
This isn’t Pareto’s 80 / 20 rule – which is 80% of effects come from 20% of the cause – used in many ways like; ‘80% of sales come from 20% of customers’
The 80 / 20 rule in this instance, that I personally use, is a different way of looking at things, to help you achieve what you want in a kinder way for You, and that’s personal to you too.
There is so much information out there about what we should be doing, need to do, how and when, how to set goals to achieve and be successful – succeed.
My 80 / 20 rule is simple:
80% of the time, do what you know you should, for You (we are all different) and 20% of the time – give yourself a break, and do what you enjoy, like and Love.
There are a few reasons this could work for you.
By being kinder to yourself in this way, you relive pressure and stress and are more likely to achieve goals you may have set, empowering you to succeed and achieve – feeling much more motivated and happier, and not beating yourself up along the way, and feeling like a failure.
Setting goals can be positive and great way of helping you to focus and plan. To reach deadlines, and get things done.
If the goals just seem like a never ending ‘to do’ list then the pressure can really ramp up, leading to overwhelm, and feeling like you can’t prioritise, because you have lost sight in the mountain of things to be achieved, and the expectations set by yourself and others, which can lead to making mistakes, and also stifling your ability to be solution focused, and like you are not moving forward at all.
In order for goal setting to work, the goal needs to be realistic and achievable – for you. That you have planned how you are going to get there and have the correct resources and support crucial to your success. It is also important that the goal set is for YOU, and is what You want, that there is something in it for You, because if you haven’t really bought into it, and WHY you are doing it, then with the best will in the world, you will find it a hard thing to do.
Other considerations for goal setting is not to set HIGH achieving goals that feels too out of reach, and unobtainable, without first breaking them down into smaller achievable chunks. If you don’t it can lead to either feeling like you’ve ‘failed’ before barely starting, or leads to Procrastination and complete avoidance, to avoid the inevitable ‘fail’. It’s not saying don’t have big dreams of what you want to achieve but do think around the planning – climbing Everest is not done in one go, there is a lot of preparation, and the peak is reached step by step by step, as is the descent.
Having a plan beyond the ‘goal’ is also something that can be crucial too, to either help you maintain what you have achieved, or some reward to allow yourself to revel in and enjoy your achievement, before possibly moving on to the next thing, and the next thing.
Where the 80 / 20 rule really comes into its own is about alleviating the stress around eliminating and denying yourself things, which can create resistance to the very thing you are trying to achieve. ‘Thou shalt not have’ ‘you will not’ ‘NO’ and the ‘loss of’ creates an interesting state in most humans! It causes craving of the very thing you’re trying to cut out, stress and pressure, and also a state of panic sometimes. We can then move into defiance and / or ‘survival mode’ because we don’t like to feel we are losing something – even if it is good for us! and it can make us feel unhappy too.
Why? because of the ‘fear of change’ the unknown, the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘who will I be if I’m not this?’ ‘what will I do if I don’t do this’ and also not having really bought into the ‘WHY am I doing this?’ – at a deep level, that really means something to you.
So, using 80 / 20 can really help, because if you are ‘doing what you know you should’ for 80% of the time, and 20% of the time you can have ‘time-out’ this instantly helps you reduce the pressure and stress on yourself, and so long as you have planned HOW you are going to achieve your goal, then you’re on to a winner, because there is no denying anything, no need to panic and a much more enjoyable experience, and then as you achieve the results you want – guess what?! Motivation and momentum build, and you no longer feel like you’re fighting an up-hill battle to achieve your goals.
Make sure you are scheduling in your 20% R n R or time out and be truly present when you do, otherwise what are you working for! Real rest has enormous benefits and allowing yourself the time to come up with solutions, and even do a bit of daydreaming – Einstein knew the benefits of this.
You can do a rough 80 / 20 split and for example, when it comes to cutting out certain foods, that a lot of people can struggle with, ‘not on a school night’ could work for you.
For instance; no crisps and chocolate on a ‘school day’ Sunday through to Thursday (this does rely on having healthier, more sustaining choices available in your planning, which also improve your cognitive ability) and then Friday & Saturday you can have what you want.
Interestingly, stress levels and the associated pressure drops quite significantly. There is only so much you can binge on and feel good about, both in a physical and mental sense, and then as you start to achieve your goals, and relax into ‘I can have crisps on Friday, if I want’ you don’t crave them, because you’re not denying yourself, and as you start to see the results you want – it becomes a better feeling than a packet of crisps could ever give you! and your goal becomes even more achievable, you can see it, feel it, touch it. It puts you in the driving seat, you are now in control, the change then becomes about a sustainable lifestyle choice, a new positive habit, a way to be, rather than a Goal to reach…and ‘then what, where now?’
Do remember you are human though, and there are days where you just don’t feel the full ticket, so do be kind to yourself on those days, and then adjust, so maybe Friday is now out, because you defaulted on Tuesday, and it’s OK.
As Humans, how we FEEL, drives everything that we do, or don’t do, so if the 80 / 20 rule helps you feel better about yourself, you are much more likely to go forward with what you want, and enjoy the experience. Feeling more able to take on other challenges, and set your sights towards your dreams and aspirations for the You want to be and the life you want to live, by expanding your comfort zone, building resilience, developing confidence and self-esteem, trying new things and saying ‘I CAN’
Have you ever felt incredibly nervous, with a racing heart and butterflies in your stomach?
Have you ever felt ridged and sick with fear?
How about terrified and excited all at the same time?
Ever wondered why?
Our mission in life is to Survive and to Thrive.
Survival for us means many things, not just surviving threat to life, but surviving well, so we can also thrive, grow and develop, and procreate (keep our species alive). Some ways we survive are by staying hydrated, having food and shelter. To literally stay alive from threat, we need to know what a threat is to our safety, and to know Fear. So, Fear crucially keeps us safe, by alerting us to Danger.
In situations where our safety or life is under real threat, and those closest to us, then Fear is definitely our friend, because if we did not have any fear or the ability to detect a threat or know what a threat is…then we could count on the odds of our demise being pretty high!
The reason why Fear can make us FEEL ‘sick’ or have butterflies, have a racing heart, and breathlessness, is because a hormone called adrenaline, is released into the blood stream from the Adrenal Medulla, at the sign of danger or threat to our safety or those we love, and sometimes also towards others, or animals, in danger and under threat.
This hormone is responsible for getting us ready to take action quickly, in order to survive the imminent threat. It is called the Fight Fright Flight response. There is then a sugar surge to produce energy, increase blood flow to the larger muscles, diverting attention away from the stomach and any digestion needs not essential right now, to get you ready to run or fight, dilation of your pupils – to see better, and an increased heart rate and breathing to increase the oxygen flow to help you flee, or fight. This is called a ‘physiological’ response in the body, where there are physical changes in or to the body. It is all part of the Sympathetic Nervous System, that is finely tuned to help us survive threat, and relies on all of our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing and our intuition – our intuition being a combination of many senses and experiences) for the information to be sent, to alert us to a threat or potential threat to our safety.
When the threat is a real one, we will respond very quickly by; running to safety and avoiding the potential threat, which is Flight, hiding or climbing out of the way, maybe it is a case of Fighting your way out of a situation, like a burning house, or having superhuman strength, you hear of people lifting cars, or maybe it’s Fright or Freeze, where your survival depends on staying very still, or stopping dead just before disaster – like the edge of a cliff, and you need every muscle in your body to respond. In this type of situation, our adrenaline and the physiological responses are utilised, and once the threat is over, the Parasympathetic Nervous System takes over, lowering the now not needed adrenaline and returning the body back to ‘normal’. We can sometimes go into shock and shake and feel very sick and light headed when it has been a heightened situation, but generally, it does not last – however the memory of the event does, and we bank every detail, to ensure our survival in the future.
Mostly though, our survival is less dramatic.
We are wonderfully complex and amazing, and when you think how little we generally actively consciously think about how we get through the day, cruising through it uneventfully from morning to evening, and all that actually goes on within our subconscious mind and body’s to allow this to happen, without us giving it a second though, like; Breathing, digesting food, regulating our sugar levels and body temperature, pumping blood and nutrients around our bodies – to every single cell, constant renewal of cells and use of energy where it is needed and processing safely what we don’t need, even when we are sleeping, and calculating and avoiding risks as we go about our daily tasks.
We don’t question things, until maybe the smooth operations falters in some way. Even then, we are miraculous in our ability to recover situations, and recover physically, learning what works and what doesn’t and then applying it in the future, to lessen further risk.
As human beings, from the moment we are born – we are wired to Survive, to survive from threats to our life and well-being, in the best way we can. Some of this survival is instinctual, like a baby being able to cry at a staggering 130 decibels, to ensure they are not ignored, that they are fed, watered and nurtured and kept safe. Other survival strategies we learn as we grow, through different experiences and being taught techniques, and what to do to help us survive well, and reduce risk of threat, by learning to risk assess situations, so we can for the most part live life without incident. For example: crossing the road safely, assessing the road whilst driving, not exiting a moving vehicle, not walking into a Lion’s den, or walking off a cliff, putting your finger in a live electric socket, and relying on your assessment of many situations from past experience and those that just don’t feel right.
Beyond our survival is then the need to Thrive, to feel safe and comfortable, and as humans we also all seek pleasure. Feeling good about ourselves and situations is important, and doing the things we like, eating what we like, wearing what we like, watching what we like, being with people we like vs what we don’t like. Most of the time though we have a calm equilibrium to life, which we appreciate more when it has been disrupted or absent.
All humans have smiling and laughter in common and being / feeling happy is generally our preferred state. Being happy is very much dependent on how we are surviving and thriving and not a means for survival, (though arguably could be deployed as a tactic) because if our basic need to survive well is not being met, then we are in a different mind ‘state’ to happy, like feeling unhappy, sad, stressed, anxious or fearful, angry or frustrated, or maybe just tired, hungry and thirsty. (What constitutes ‘happiness’ is individual to each of us.)
We are mostly able to deal with and resolve most situations in a practical way, without the drama of Fight Fright Flight; like drink some water and eat food and we can consciously use ‘mind over matter’ to move on swiftly in our minds, by way of our thoughts, from one mind ‘state’ and situation to another and get back to feeling happy and comfortable, or getting on with tasks. Our thoughts, and what we think about all situations, affects how we feel.
Building resilience, the ability to ‘bounce back’ or not let one situation affect another, is an important part of surviving and thriving well in a less stressful way, and it is something we can learn to do. We can also learn to switch to happy thoughts quickly or see a situation as just a situation to learn from, in a positive light and not as a threat, maybe even as an opportunity to learn something new. This of course relies on many factors, and experiences, how confident we feel and how skilled we are at not only managing our own survival, by managing and lowering risk, but how we ‘thrive’ and what that actually means to us personally? Whereas we all tend to know what it means to Survive, to stay alive and intact.
So, we know about Fear being our friend, and helping us to survive.
Can Fear also be Foe?
Technically, no it can’t, because it helps us to Survive. However, at the beginning of the fifth full paragraph I wrote ‘When the threat is a real one…’
Fear can be Foe, when the threat is not real to our survival, but in many ways hinders our ability to thrive effectively and happily, because of the response to it, and the anxiety experienced associated with having the Fear.
As humans, our thoughts relate closely to how we feel. If we feel fear, it feels very real to us, and due to the power of our thoughts, the threat does not have to actually be real, we just need to believe it is real in our mind, to create a response in our body, and our body will respond to the perceived threat. So, what happens?
Yes, adrenaline is released to get the body ready to Fight Fright Flight, even if our logical mind knows the threat is not a real one to our survival, how we feel, our emotion, takes over, and we experience real changes in our body, like a racing heart and quickened breathing.
Why? because feeling under threat regardless of it being ‘real’ is a threat to us, and our preferred happy state and the desire to not have an experience we don’t like, that makes us feel bad, so the potential of harm is real enough to us to cause a response. This can be due to a number of reasons, like an actual bad past experience, which experience has taught us to ‘fear’ and see as a threat, our perception of the potential threat can be skewed though, and it may take us some time, as an adult, to process the situation for what it is, and risk assess it as a low threat, or not a real threat to our survival. Or the emotion and fear or anxiety is so heightened, that our reasoning and judgement are squashed into an unheard whisper.
Perception is key here, because in situations that have caused us to feel heightened fear in the past, heightens our perception of the situation being a threat, so we may ‘see’ threat, where there is none or little. Of course, these thoughts and feelings are for good reason, and understandable.
The adrenaline has still been released in readiness and has still put the body under stress of readiness, sometimes this adrenaline is used to run, or hide or avoid the potential situation, but not in the way really intended for our survival from threat to our life.
Anxiety is fear of what may or could happen in the future; the ‘what if…it’s bad, I fail, they laugh at me, I die or get injured, I get it all wrong, they don’t like me?’ even though logically, a past event is not ‘evidence’ for what will happen, our fear of what may happen, changes our perception of how to measure the situation as a potential risk, we raise the odds of things going badly in our assessment, and unwittingly raise the odds of the situation going not happening in the best way.
The Fear or Anxiety then becomes our greatest Foe, because in our attempts to stay safe, and lessen threat, and to stay comfortable, and preserve equilibrium, we start to miss out on life, on opportunity, and opportunities to experience some risk and learn to manage all risk better by building resilience, and consequently we don’t Thrive, and may barely really be surviving and we then feel unhappy, and quite often trapped by our own fear, staying within our Comfort Zone, which is very safe and has it is place to help us heal, recuperate and reflect, but it is also a static place of no new experiences and growth.
Generally, we would all agree that there are definite threats to all humans, regardless of your perception of the situation, for example; entering a Lion’s den, or crossing a busy road without stopping and looking first.
Due to our emotions and how we Feel, and how we would prefer to feel; ‘comfortable’ ‘safe’ happy’ any experiences we have to the contrary stays in our memory bank, as a perfectly formed memory, based on our experience – or more crucially – our personal perception and memory of the experience, which may or may not be fact, and how things actually happened. The more we felt unhappy, under threat, an unease, or fearful, the more intense our memory is of the threat to our survival or equilibrium and happiness.
The good news is, we can learn to control the Anxiety and Fear we do not require so intensely, using various techniques like breathing, hypnotherapy, ‘tapping’ and having a good understanding of anxiety and what triggers it, and using various solution focused therapy, and by talking about it. Anxiety is much more common than you may think, and can all have times of suffering with anxiety, where it takes over in certain situation and we feel like we can’t control it.
We do need Fear, to keep us safe, and some level of anxiety is not altogether bad, as the adrenaline produced can kick us into action, and help move us along. Remember having no Fear has its own dangers, and no adrenaline may make us sloths, with nothing getting done and no urgency to reach deadline, or complete tasks!
A thought to leave with you relating to a question at the beginning
‘How about – terrified and excited all at the same time?’ most of us have had that type of experience
Maybe you’re about to go on a roller-coaster, do a parachute jump, run a race, see a scary film, as your choice, because it’s thrilling! Some people enjoy this type of experience more than others, because it is way outside of the Comfort Zone.
When we are excited, what happens? How do we feel? Our heart rate increases, as does our breathing, we can have butterflies in our stomach…Yes! Adrenaline has been released, it is the very same adrenaline, used in when we are under threat or in danger.
Therefore; ANXIETY / FEAR = EXCITEMENT
If the adrenaline is the same, the body’s response is the same, where is it different then? Remember the power of our thoughts?! What we believe – is real to us! And the next amazing thing is: we can choose what we think, our thoughts, and choose how we feel as a result, because thoughts and emotions are related. So next time you feel anxious or fearful – when the threat isn’t absolutely a threat to your survival, ask yourself these crucial questions;
‘Is the threat or fear Real?’ ‘Where is my evidence?’ (a psst experience is not concrete evidence for a future situation) ‘Does feeling anxious help me or the situation?’ ‘Am I Anxious or excited?’ Do I want to feel anxious or excited?!’
I really hope you found this article useful, and I must add that this is my interpretation and way of explaining things, to help people understand the fascinating subject of being Us.
This article belongs to Andrea Barker Confidence Coach.
Confidence and Well Being, being able to cope with anxiety and stress – is essential – a priority for you and for staff