Mental Health Reflections

When ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ Backfires – My First Experience With Anxiety

Disclaimer: I’m using the term ‘anxiety’ quite loosely here as I don’t have a diagnosed condition.

Over the past year, I can credit a lot of my success to doing things outside of my comfort zone. Prior to failing my second year at university, my biggest fear was the fear of failure. Once that happened and I was able to process and move through it, it gave me the freedom to start approaching things from a different perspective. I was no longer afraid of failing. You’re bound to have come across the phrase: “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway” at some point. It’s a popular lingo used frequently by motivational speakers to encourage people to pursue their dreams regardless of their fears. When implemented, there is truth to this simple sentence. It works.

Fear in most instances acts as a form of prison. It keeps us from achieving or doing the things that we are capable of. It has to be said that fear is a natural reaction. It’s our way of protecting ourselves when we sense danger or something that threatens us. But it’s also important to be able to confront these fears and that happens primarily through action. Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway has been a principle that I have been applying successfully for over a year now until last month.

I’m not a stranger to anxiety. I do quite a few public speaking engagements and I am accustomed to the temporary but normal feeling of anxiety before I speak. However the first time I truly felt ‘anxious’ it was a completely alien feeling. I was sitting at an event and suddenly I started getting palpitations, my mind was racing, I was sweating and just felt completely overwhelmed. I knew something had triggered me but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The second time however, I knew what the trigger would be. I was anxious on the day and there were physical warnings before I placed myself in the environment. But I ignored them because I wanted to feel the fear and do it anyway. This time around everything was heightened. I felt hot and dizzy, my heart was racing, my mind running at a thousand miles per hour, I was overcome with an overwhelming feeling of panic and dread. In Nigeria, there’s a popular saying of ‘I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me’ when one wants to highlight the urgent need for escape. That’s exactly how I felt. The only thing I could do to calm myself down a little bit was to physically remove myself from the space temporarily.

Being Miss Self Aware, I spent some time thinking about why these two situations were so different from everything else that I had encountered during the year. And it dawned on me that the reason why ‘Feel the Fear and Do it anyway’ had been working so effectively was because my personal development journey had given me the tools to manage my fear effectively in a lot of familiar situations. But there are still areas of my life that I have not touched or worked on, hence it was naïve to have plunged myself into those situations unprepared.

The lesson that I’m trying to draw upon here is,

 Don’t feel the need to put yourself in situations that you don’t feel comfortable in, or ones you don’t have the tools to navigate. It’s okay to give yourself that space. Sometimes feel the fear and choose to abstain.

You can read my post on a powerful affirmation that I have found useful to stay mindful and help ease anxiety here.

I pray that you benefitted from this post and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. Subscribe via email for exclusive content and new post notifications. Listen to my podcast Bookversations here.

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  1. AsSalaamu alaikum
    i can relate to the public speaking anxiety. it seems like the more you do it the easier it becomes. But as in your case if something just does not fit it is okay to say no. One reminder I just listened to said” you do not have to catch every ball thrown at you”. That’s been very valuable to me lately. And it felt nice to let some balls just fly by!

    Liked by 1 person

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