How to Overcome Fear of Going Outside
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How to Overcome Fear of Going Outside
How to Overcome Fear of Going Outside
I want to help you get the fun and pleasure back into places that you fear and run from. I’m sure the places you fear now, you once quite liked visiting. For me shops, cinemas, work, driving, socializing, and sport were all areas I actively loved doing before but they became a living nightmare of anxiety.
By associating a more pleasurable experience with the environment you fear at the moment, you can slowly override the undesirable feeling attached to the place. You need to lower the tension you associate with the situation or place. When you don’t worry about going there anymore you know you’re in a better place.
If you associate say 5 pleasurable things with a place or situation, this will counteract the 3 negative thought patterns you have about that place. Eventually you will see the anxiety lower and the pleasurable feelings come flooding back. Just keep them coming when they arrive!
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
• E.E. Cummings
Here are some simple pleasure associations with potential fearful places you may suffer from –
- Whilst driving listen to your favourite music and sing along
- Whilst standing in a queue take a book to read that will get you really engrossed
- Standing on train have pictures in your wallet/purse to evoke nice memories
- In meetings think about what you will cook for dinner - what ingredients you will need and how you will cook it.
- If you’re going on a long trip it’s easy with modern phones to play games or text friends, or maybe go old school and try knitting.
- If you’re meeting someone and your anxious about it there is nothing wrong with preparing what you will talk about, and having questions you might like to ask. Just adding humour and talking about yourself can settle you down.
The ways you can make mundane everyday things much more enjoyable are endless. Of course to a panic attack sufferer mundane activities can be an excruciating activity.
The whole point is that to move away from the extreme levels of high anxiety and move towards total calmness and serenity. If you try to head in that direction then eventually you will. Just remember to move the cart you first have to dangle the carrot in front of the donkey!
"Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel."
Don’t keep staring at the problem. It may sound a little stupid to say this but there more you look at the problem internally or externally the more you will worry about your symptoms. If you have a phobia of bridges and you keep staring at a bridge, the chances are the problem will become worse. Our sight is still our no 1 resource for the brain to ascertain what is happening around us. If we see a tiger jump out in front of us or an abandoned suitcase full of money the result can have a massive impact or our mood. Looking and gazing at places, structures and people that fright us tend to lead us down a path of destructive thoughts. In the case of the bridge its ‘How will I feel when I start to cross it……..What if I get stuck………….. What if I have a massive panic attack and can’t get off…….. Can the emergency services still reach me……….Will I hurt other people if I crash……….. Oh my god I can’t do it…….’
I remember getting severe panic attacks driving over the Severn Bridge near Bristol. I overcame this by creating pleasurable associations with driving over the bridge. It also helps to just concentrate on what you need to do and not worry about what might happen. If you worry about all the things that could go wrong you would go crazy. Driving over a bridge is pretty simple. It’s just like driving over a normal road. You just drive at a steady speed, keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you and relax and enjoy the view. Sounds simple and I know it isn’t.
But if you strip it back to the basics and concentrate on what you have to do it’s not that’s hard. It’s just all the worry, and complications we add that make it difficult. As Duncan Bannatyne (from the Dragon’s Den) wrote in his autobiography. “Business is easy, its people that make it difficult.” Whilst I would substitute life for business.
Practice and more practice
If you’re going to places where you haven’t been to in a while then you may go in with the mentality to test yourself. Test days if you think back to school evoke memories of exams and unpleasant things.
Fear of Crowds
Do you remember how nervous you were and how it felt there was such a burden on your shoulders. That little inner voice tends to spring up in your mind criticising you when you don’t need it. It tells you negative things and throws in doubt that you can prove yourself.
However now you know better. You can tell that little inner voice to shut up because you have the tools to succeed. Don’t be pushed around by the voice, you’re the one in control. You’re the one who can implement changes to your diet and see the benefits of a more stable body. You can imagine you have so much inner belief and power you can succeed at anything. You can fantasize you’re like other people whom you admire.
Imagine you’re in another place where you can feel overwhelming calmness that anxiety symptoms pale into insignificance. You have breathing techniques at your disposal to calm yourself down and you know how to breathe properly. You have the skills to relax your muscles and promote inner calmness from within. Imagine you’re a conductor with each tool being part of your orchestra. As you point at each section of your orchestra you implement another tool. In different scenarios different tools work, but each time you practice their influence over you gets greater. In time the effects of these tools will help you heal yourself.
Just think of what you can do with the tools and knowledge at your disposal. I can assure they work, they have worked for human beings since we existed and been practised by humans for thousands of years.
If we just take meditation, relaxation and spiritualism it records dates back before Jesus –
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SPIRITULISM
In the west, by 20 BCE Philo of Alexandria had written on some form of "spiritual exercises" involving attention and concentrationand by the 3rd century Plotinus had developed meditative techniques.
The PÄli Canon, which dates to 1st century BCE, considers Indian Buddhist meditation as a step towards salvation. By the time Buddhism was spreading in China, the Vimalakirti Sutra which dates to 100 CE included a number of passages on meditation, clearly pointing to Zen. The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism introduced meditation to other Asian countries, and in 653 the first meditation hall was opened in Japan. Returning from China around 1227, DÅgen wrote the instructions for Zazen.
The Islamic practice of Dhikr had involved the repetition of the 99 Names of God since the 8th or 9th century. By the 12th century, the practice of Sufism included specific meditative techniques, and its followers practiced breathing controls and the repetition of holy words. Interactions with Indians or the Sufis may have influenced the Eastern Christian meditation approach to hesychasm, but this cannot be proved. Between the 10th and 14th centuries, hesychasm was developed, particularly on Mount Athos in Greece, and involves the repetition of the Jesus prayer.
When you venture to places that cause you discomfort – do not fear it. Just think it’s a chance to practice your new found tools. Think of it as a chance to experiment and hone your new skills. It’s similar to learning to ride a bike. You had to practice many times. I bet you fell off on more than one occasion but you kept getting back on. Eventually you acquired the skill, that knack of learning when the bike slowed down you had to turn the pedals to keep it in motion.
When you feel yourself in a better place mentally, use your emotion to further connect with positive feelings. It’s much better to practice when you’re feeling better then when you anxious. If you’re in a dark place and a low starting point then the best thing to do is just to try and implement the tools.
When you haven’t been in certain places for a long it’s only natural you may feel a little ‘strange’ or apprehensive when you first do it. Don’t get concerned if you have feelings of unreality or spacey feelings just stay with it, it’s only natural you should feel this way. Have ever been stuck in doors with the flu or had an operation that needed complete rest? When you first go outside after a few days stuck inside its normal to feel a little ‘weird’. Just tell yourself it’s your body adjusting and give it time to adjust.
“I wish I could've lived my life without making any wrong turns. But that's impossible. A path like that doesn't exist. We fail. We trip. We get lost. We make mistakes. And little by little, one step at a time, we push forward. It's all we can do. On our own two feet.”
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