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What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

Tackling fear head on in Mexico.

 

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by Bexx Henderson in Life, Mental Health

Today, we’re talking about fear: What are you afraid of?  How often do you let fear hold you back? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Fear and anxiety are two emotions I’ve become way too familiar with over the years. I have no idea when I became so scared, but last year I felt like I’d reached breaking point with it. It got to the stage where anxiety was taking over my life, and I was just letting it. Something had to change, and I decided to figure out what.

Fast forward ten months, and I’m in a much better place. The anxiety hasn’t completely disappeared, of course. It never will. Negative emotions are a perfectly normal – and necessary – part of life. But I’m dealing with it now, better than ever before. The “bad days” happen far less frequently and, in some cases, I’m even starting to use them to my advantage.

It’s not healthy to avoid negative emotions, like fear. We can’t make them disappear.

But we can change how we respond to them. 

This is what I’ve been working on since I decided to stop letting anxiety run the show. It’s felt like a slow process at times, but everything seems to have clicked in the past couple of months.

When you’re working on your own self-development, change can happen so slowly that you barely notice it. This doesn’t mean you’re not succeeding. The worst thing you can do is tell yourself that.

If you believe change isn’t happening, it won’t.

Instead, persevere through the difficulties, trust the process and, most importantly, surrender to it. Change doesn’t always show up how we expect it to, so keep the faith and trust you’re moving in the right direction.

When you challenge your fears – even on what feels like a relatively small scale – awesome things happen. And that’s what I want to talk about today! 

 

Learning How to Work With Fear in Mexico

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know I’ve just got back from the most incredible couple of weeks in Mexico. It’s been on my bucket list for YEARS and it certainly lived up to expectations., and then some. I’m totally in love!

We just had the best time: a perfect blend of relaxation, food, cocktails and adventures. Adventures I wouldn’t have had without tackling some of my fears head on.

For the first time in 14 years, I went into the sea. That’s half my life spent out of water. Pretty insane when you consider how much I love being by the sea. The coast is my go-to happy place… It relaxes and grounds me like nowhere else.

I can’t remember when this particular fear came about, but it intensified when I lost one of my best friends in an accident a few years ago. Since then, going into the water has been something I’ve actively avoided at any opportunity. Nothing more than a quick paddle.

When we were researching the trip, something that kept popping up was Akumal Bay. This place is turtle party central. Seriously, it’s almost impossible to go snorkelling there without meeting one of the little dudes. How exciting! I love turtles.

“Hold up! Wait… Swimming with turtles? Won’t that involve actually going into the ocean? Shit. I can’t do that, can I?” 

Actually, turns out I can. ???

And it was one of the best experiences of my life. We swam with turtles, stingrays and a SHARK! Just incredible. There aren’t any other words for it.

I’d be lying if I told you it was easy, that I loved every second of it. I didn’t. At least, not to start with. Once we’d started swimming out into the bay, I wanted to turn around and go straight back.

Our guide was swimming off with Ant, and I started to freak out big time. This went on for a few minutes, until I realised hyperventilating under water probably wasn’t the best idea. I had to get out of that water. But I didn’t. Instead, I decided to have a little word with myself. Anyone else ever do this? The ‘conversation’ went something like:

“What the actual fuck, Bexx? Are you going to get out now, REALLY? I’ll be so pissed if you do. You haven’t even seen a fish yet, never mind a turtle. What are you doing?! No… Wait! Don’t cry. Do. Not. Cry.

Breathe. Why are you holding your breath? Seriously, that’s what the snorkel’s for.

Have you even stopped to notice how awesome the water feels? Keep breathing. Right, your heart rate is slowing down… Good.  See, it’s not so bad is it? Wow, this water really does feel amazing. Keep going, you’re catching up with them now…. *pause*

Ha! You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?!? You are in the sea, and you’re loving it. Hahahahahaha. Woooooo! Just let go and have fun, there’s really nothing to be afraid of. Unless you get eaten by a shark, ha. Just kidding. I hope. OMG! OMG! O…. M…. G!!!!! A TURTLE!!! THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!!!!”

As it turns out, turtles make everything better. We then swam out to the coral reef, which freaked me out a little bit – but was amazing at the same time.

It was the best day ever, but I didn’t stop there…

What Next?!

After the day at Akumal Bay, I spent a lot of time reflecting on fear – and how I respond to it. I felt empowered by the whole experience, and I wanted more of it. I made a decision: I was going to challenge my fears at every feasible opportunity.

Ant mentioned parasailing at the start of the holiday, which I’d very quickly dismissed at the time. But now I knew how courageous I could be, it was a different story. After a brief chat, I told him to go and book it before I changed my mind. An hour later, we were on a boat being strapped to the parachute. ?

Who knew something could be so exhilarating and so relaxing at the same time?! Awesome. Everything was just awesome. You never know, maybe I’ll even be skydiving next! ?

 

How to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Fear is a complicated beast, but I’m going to make it really simple:

To overcome fear, you need to take action.

I’ve spent years thinking about my fears, but it didn’t get me very far – because I wasn’t taking action. I’m a naturally introspective person. I ask a lot of questions. I’m a perfectionist. I try to have everything all figured out before I take action. None of these are bad qualities to have, but they aren’t necessarily helpful when dealing with fear. Too much thinking can get in the way.

Here’s my new process for embracing fear:

1. Accept it

Fear has a bad rep, but it’s here to stay. It gets us all at some point, and acceptance is the first step to overcoming it. There’s a difference between conquering fear, and becoming fearless. Elizabeth Gilbert sums this up perfectly in Big Magic:

“If your goal in life is to become fearless, then I believe you’re already on the wrong path, because the only truly fearless people I’ve ever met were straight-up sociopaths and a few exceptionally reckless three-year olds.”

Fear is normal. Stop being so hard on yourself.

2. Take Action

The next step is to take action, no matter how small. What can you do, right now, to challenge your fear? Do it at the earliest opportunity – you’ll have plenty of time to think about it later.

If you’re finding it hard to progress to this step, think about what you’ll lose out on if you let the fear win. Taking action is empowering. You might feel vulnerable for a while, but that’s okay. You can do it!

 

What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

So, over to you:

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

To get started, make a note of the first three things that comes into your head when you ask yourself that question. Can you do something to take action towards one of them this week?

You might think I’ve oversimplified this, but why make it more complicated than it needs to be? I’ve spent years trying to figure this out. Sometimes you’ve just got to let go and let the good stuff happen. Give it a try, and see what you think.

Let me know your experiences in the comments, or drop me an email. I’d love to hear from you about this!

Much love,

Bexx

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SELF-CARE FOR NEW MUMS

Sign up to my mailing list for content to help you on your health and wellness journey. The first issue comes with my "Self-Care for New Mums" guide.

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