Women learn courage, self-awareness and empathy by fighting their fears.
Her strength comes from battling her anxiety when her overwhelming impulse is to run away and hide. Sometimes, the voice of fear is too loud to ignore. But mostly, she finds a way to pretend she is okay. She finds the power to get out and about, meet friends and smile, though she does not always feel like it. She turns up, even if she is shaking. She talks, even if her voice cracks a bit. She keeps breathing, even though each breath is hard to catch.
Let’s face it, most of us would simply cancel our plans, turn down engagements with friends, skip appointments, call in sick — and sometimes, she does. Sometimes it is all too much for her to handle. Just the idea of being around people freaks her out.
Most days she just gets on with things, though at times she will be distracted by worries and ‘what ifs’. Anything unexpected can send her mind reeling with unwelcome thoughts of the worst things that could happen. Friendly conversation can strike her dumb with self-consciousness.
Women with anxiety feel self-conscious but...
…she carries on anyway, even though she thinks every glance in her direction is a glare or a stare. She ignores thoughts that others are thinking badly of her or are silently ridiculing or criticising her for being as crazy as only she thinks she is.
Despite these gloomy, negative thoughts, she endeavours to do the best she can to be positive and to fake being fine.
Her anxiety makes her feel weak and stupid, less important than everyone else. They all seem so much more clever, articulate and confident. She is sure she is inferior in every way and that no one else can possibly be as foolish or useless as she is.
Those critical beliefs about herself are simply not true. She is a fighter. A doer. A survivor. Although she knows it, she does not believe it.
Doing normal things when physically exhausted and emotionally drained by the fear lurking around every corner is a massive, confidence-sapping effort. So, some women with anxiety do not ever want to step outside their comfort zone.
However, she is often outside of her comfort zone, worried about what others think or whether they notice how anxious she is feeling. She always worries about the ‘worst thing’ that can happen.
Women with anxiety carry on regardless.
Her confidence grows a tiny bit each day when she feels the fear and gets on with things anyway. With every success, life gets easier as she proves she can do what she thought she could not. Of course, this can be difficult sometimes. She might go quiet for a while, stay in bed for a day or make excuses to avoid a night out. She surprises herself when she feels confident enough to push the boundaries a bit. If only every day were like that.
What she does not realise is how incredibly brave she is. After all, she gets most things done, regardless of her anxiety. Those of us without anxiety have no idea how tough this can be. It is a battle most of us could not fight.
Not only is she a fighter, she actually wins the battle most days.
Once she knows the war against worry can be won and she is no longer besieged by it, her courage grows with every new victory.
A clinical hypnotherapist, master NLP and CBT practitioner based in the South East of England, Karen Martin has many years experience treating a wide range of conditions and disorders. Anxiety in its many forms, from phobias to panic disorders, and behavioural change, like weight management and smoking cessation, are issues she specialises in and has a consistent track record of successfully treating. In Karen's words "Hypnotherapy provides an armoury of weapons to give courage and strength to destroy anxiety and build defences against its return".