2018 is the year that I improve my wellbeing, both mentally and physically. It’s going to be the year where I try new ways to improve wellbeing, and one of those journeys is about how to own your fears.
I was asked by AXA PPP Healthcare to work with them on their Own Your Fears campaign to change our mindset around fear. The idea being that we can harness our fear and use it to help us grow. This campaign sounds right up my street and exactly the kind of thing I want to work with and chat about on my blog.
And so, I have signed up to spend six months working with experts at AXA PPP Healthcare to address one of my fears. For these six months I am going to share the process and my journey here on the blog as I work with these experts to work with my fear and I’ll chart exactly what effects it has on my wellbeing.
Sharing a fear in public, let alone on the internet, is pretty scary. I feel a tad vulnerable. But I have learned over the years that often what you think you are struggling with in isolation is actually experienced by others. I am 100% committed to this process of addressing my fear, and if it helps me there’s a chance it might help some of you too. By being able to honestly share with you here on the blog I am giving you a chance to know you’re not alone, I might perhaps enlighten you to somebody else’s experience, and I will be holding myself accountable.
What is my fear?
I chose this fear after spending time with myself sifting through my behaviour and circumstances, figuring out what is really going on in different parts of my life. And the conclusion I reach is this fear – the fear of rejection.
The fear I have of rejection is so deep-seated that it seeps out in different parts of my life. It manifests itself as acts of self-preservation. It occurs sub-consciously, only to be realised much later down the line. It weaves its way into almost every encounter I have with others.
My fear of rejection is a fear that touches all relationships – friendships, relatives, peers, work colleagues, acquaintances, and even romantic ones.
(Quick disclaimer: I am a happily married woman but I am aware of how this fear has touched my romantic relationships too)
It’s a fear that I will care about somebody and they will reject me.
It’s the fear that I am not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, interesting enough. It’s a fear I’m not likeable. That I’m not worthy. It’s a fear that I will get hurt, and it’s a fear that that resulting hurt will be too painful.
My fear of rejection possibly stems from experiences in the past and over time they have have built up. If I think about it enough I can pinpoint moments when I shy away from certain situations in case it results in rejection.
Consequences of my fear
This fear of rejection means I tend to shy away from relationships. I tend to avoid getting too close. I struggle to trust people and I feel uncomfortable letting people in personally.
I tend to avoid any situation where somebody might hurt my feelings. I avoid any circumstance where somebody might have to say no to me, or let me down.
And thus, over time I have become more isolated and I spend much of my time at home. I have created a business and lifestyle that allows me to work from home so this means I have little daily contact with others.
When potential friends do reach out I find myself making excuses. I tell myself I am prioritising work, which I am. But this ends up being rather all-consuming. Instead of living a balanced lifestyle with a healthy social life, I find my priorities are reduced to working or spending time with my husband.
Somebody might invite me out for coffee and I find myself postponing as I am overwhelmed with work. But in truth, deep down, I think a part of me is keeping people at arm’s reach. In turn, I struggle to reach out to potential friends or peers.
I have so many unwritten emails to people which I don’t send in fear of rejection. Maybe they’ll ignore me, maybe they’ll wonder why I had the nerve to message them in the first place. I often write a message to a friend and then delete, thinking I probably shouldn’t bother them. This happens way more often than I really care to admit.
A physical manifestation of this fear is that it is preventing me from leaving the house. It’s keeping me cooped up. I’m not allowing myself to get out and about, even if that’s getting fresh air or heading to the gym.
Much like many fears, it starts with one consequence but this spirals into more effects. A knock-on of these consequences build up over time until I am rarely leaving the house for even simply things such as basic errands or fitness. Instead, I am chaining myself to my computer and trying to work as hard as I can.
It’s not a situation that I am happy with. But much like many spirals, I feel at the bottom of it right now, and I need to figure out how to get out of it.
How addressing my fear with Own Your Fears will change my life
There are two aspects of change about my wellbeing I hope to come out of addressing my fear.
The first is the mental health side of my wellbeing. I am hoping that addressing this fear will improve my overall mood by being able to connect in a more meaningful manner with friends and peers. In turn, I hope that an improved mood helps with productivity at work. And I hope that addressing this one fear will give me courage to work on other fears holding me back from living my fullest life possible.
In terms of physical benefits, I am hoping that addressing my fear will get me to balance my life more effectively. The most important part of this is getting myself out of the house/office every day. One of the weakest areas of my life right now is the lack of physical activity. My body is at its weakest, I am chubbier, more lethargic and generally just a bit weak physically. A lot of this is down to confidence and the mental blocks I have about ‘not working’ and doing other activities that aren’t related to my business.
Overall, I feel that fear can be a weight on our wellbeing. But fear is totally normal human characteristic. We all have it. So by being able to live with that fear (I imagine I wouldn’t necessarily be able to be rid of it completely) I can find ways to not be defined by it.
‘Own Your Fears’
Over the next six months I will be working with AXA PPP Healthcare on the ‘Own Your Fears’ campaign. The idea of this campaign is to use your fears to fuel your health and wellbeing goals in 2018. It’s about seeing fears in a positive way.
I am going to personally go through the process of working with their experts to help me make 2018 the year that I take charge of my mental health. I am not going to be afraid to learn how to harness fear as a force for good, rather than letting it hold me back.
Fear is such a broad topic that affects every one of us. It is part of the human condition. We’re not just talking about spiders, snakes or flying. These are big fears about our health and wellbeing, personal and societal expectations, and our futures.
This campaign is about changing our vocabulary around fear. Rather than seeing fear as the enemy, and using terms such as ‘fight’ and ‘combat’, AXA PPP Healthcare wants to spread the word that fears are good – they help us grow and become stronger. And this is something I am so keen to work on myself, but also I’d love to help promote this idea. We can take fear and turn it around for ourselves.
AXA PPP Healthcare’s mission is to ’empower people to a better life’ and I am super keen to experience this first-hand and report back to you with how I get on.
I have shared with AXA PPP Healthcare the details about my fear and they will be in touch with me soon to arrange a chat with the most relevant expert(s) to work through this fear. I imagine I will have some homework to do!
To be totally honest, I’m not entirely sure what will come next, or indeed over the next 6 months with Own Your Fears. But simply being able to share this fear is the beginning of a cathartic process. A process that I hope will see me address my fear and improve my wellbeing and lifestyle.
I will update you every month with my progress and how I am finding it all.
I hope you will follow along, and thank you for joining me on this. It’s your past kindness, dear reader, that helps me feel brave enough to share with you today.
Visit the Own Your Fears website for more details on the campaign, including tips, advice and similar stories about how to help you use fear to positively change your wellbeing.