I have felt fear before. The fear of losing someone I love. The fear of being alone. The fear of failure or of not being good enough. The fear of the infinite or the fear of not having enough time. Yet, I have never felt this uncanny feeling that embodies all the above fears in one single emotion. For the past 7 months, I am constantly under the spell of this new phobia. The fear of all fears. It's been dominating me for so long now I can't even remember how life used to be before it even started calling the shots. Throughout this time I wandered through different stages of fear and anxiety, I felt vulnerable and overwhelmed but eventually, the outcome was always the same. Fearaphobia! This new feeling is nowhere near leaving my mind and setting me free. It looks like it's here to stay.
Let's review an example. You swing from being excited and happy to being worried and scared. You have mixed emotions about life and wondering if this transition between emotional highs and lows is normal. You wonder if anyone else's feeling similarly, if it's alright for you to have these downs. You start to doubt yourself, you end up feeling guilty and sad wondering if you are doing something wrong. While the world is falling apart around you, you feel that time couldn't have been passing any slower and you constantly want reassurance that everything and everyone is alright and healthy. For reasons you can't explain you have the feeling that a million things will go wrong.
You turn to social media and you take a glimpse on seemingly perfect pictures of how everyone is making it through the lockdown and the quarantine period being happy and fit. They managed to maintain their good spirits and kept exercising during this whole time. But that's not you. You realise how this period of time has changed you and your body, you get disappointed with yourself for not trying hard enough. The reality can sometimes be very different though, so try not to be too hard on yourself.
You wanted to be excited about life, but now you are gradually realising you can't stay positive the whole time. You have some unsettling thoughts. You distance yourself from everyone you love and choose to stay isolated in order to protect yourself and your bad thinking from getting out there. Bottling up your concerns will only increase your anxiety! Life cannot be that bad the whole time. Maybe the cloud of Covid-19 has been on top of your head for too long now. Or maybe you had been going through a hormonal roller coaster and it's not totally your fault for feeling that way. In any case remember: You are not alone! Discussing your feelings and worries with people you feel comfortable with, your partner, friends or wider family is essential. Talking to other women or couples may also reveal that you are not alone in your experiences. Sometimes it's easier talking to people with similar concerns even if they are not as close to you.
Remind yourself to live in the moment. Try to limit the time you spend mulling over your concerns, and give yourself a rest from being future-oriented. At the same time always make up the time to reflect on your emotions and the reasons you feel that way at each moment. Brushing aside your feelings or mindlessly allowing your thoughts to wander is preventing you from an opportunity of valuable self-reflection. Learn to slow down your mental processes instead and mindfully acknowledge tension and emotions as you feel them before they have the chance to morph into something more harmful and confusing. This will clear a path for your intuition and enable you to make more intentional decisions.
Next time you feel an unpleasant emotion, you can follow some of the techniques mentioned on my previous posts 'Practising Gratitude' and 'Mindful Shower', or you can follow these steps for a simple mental exercise from Erica Cohen:
1) Pause. Simply stop what you are doing.
2) Try to identify the emotion and allow yourself to feel it. Don't dismiss it, don't push it away, and don't let it spiral into a mix of emotions.
3) Acknowledge that, whatever it is, it's OK, because it's part of your natural experience.
4) Having identified the emotion you are feeling, proceed with awareness. Consider what action to take and/or what action not to take. Sometimes the answer to your problems is as simple as taking a moment to reflect on the problem per se. You will then find that your decisions are much more intentional.
Carlos thinks I am strong; that my fears only make me stronger. Last night he told me I am the strongest girl he ever met. Somehow, in ways unknown to me, I convinced him I can handle things and situations better than anyone. I wish I could believe in myself this much too. There are days I forget how strong I am. Still, it's reassuring knowing that my other half believes in me and my powers. Keep it up people!