My journey around Mexico with my boyfriend took an unexpected turn and I was suddenly faced with three weeks in Tulum alone. For some people, this might sound like paradise, but I have a chronic fear of doing new things on my own. It’s not that I don’t like being alone: I just don’t like doing new things because my mind creates all of these awkward and uncomfortable things that could happen. In this case, it was either fork out £400 for an earlier flight home and not get to experience the mesmerizing turquoise Caribbean Sea, or face my fears. I, thankfully, chose the latter.
Fear is false evidence appearing real
The night before my flight from Tijuana to Cancun, I was packing up the van of my belongings and my anxiety and fears were reaching fever pitch. At one point I couldn’t close a cupboard door, and I lost it. I slammed and slammed it, and then broke down crying on the floor. I was just so scared that I couldn’t even function. My boyfriend asked me what was scaring me the most and I reeled off all of the possible things that could go wrong. He then asked if I intuitively felt like this was the right thing for me because, if not, I’d make back the money for a new flight. Deep down I knew I had to face these fears because they were holding me back from doing so many amazing things.
Fast forward two weeks and I’m thriving. I’ve faced so many of my fears and I’ve developed close friendships, manifested amazing days and started to feel more at home on Planet Earth and in my skin. This isn’t to say that I don’t face these anxieties because I do every.single.day. I feel the voices creeping into my head but now I can start to push through them and ignore them because I know nothing bad is going to happen.
How to run towards the fear and embrace the other side
During my time here I’ve developed a few techniques and started to shift my mindset in order to overcome my fears and anxieties. These have helped me so much and I want to share them with you in the hopes that if you suffer from some sort of social anxiety they can help you start to step into your power.
When I’m about to do something that I deem as scary, my mind races with everything that could go wrong. This often causes me to make up excuses persuading myself that I don’t want to do it in the first place and keeps me squarely in my comfort zone. Now as I’m approaching a new situation and my anxious mind kicks in, I stop, take a few calming breaths and ask myself, what’s the worst-case scenario? For me, it’s usually that I’ll make a fool out of myself or that it’ll be awkward. Then I think, Okay, suppose that did in fact happen, what then and how would I deal with it? Usually, by doing this I realize that the thing I’m so worried about isn’t even that bad and if it did happen then I’d deal with it and forget about it in like 5 minutes.
Shifting your perspective
Our realities are purely shaped by our perspective. For one person the beach is the best place in the world, whereas for another, it’s hell. The variable (beach) is the same but our perceptions shape how we feel about it. When I think that a situation is going to be awkward, I assume that the other person is going to feel the same way, but chances are, they’re in their own little world and aren’t really thinking about how awkward it is. So now when I’m approaching a situation that I feel nervous about, I switch my perception, get out of my head and stop focusing on me.
Stop caring about what others think
Leading on from my previous point, I’m so bothered about what others think of me that it controls everything that I do. I’ve come to learn that thinking like that is a very selfish mindset because it makes everything about me when really it isn’t. During my time here in Tulum, I’ve also started to learn that if someone doesn’t like me then that’s their issue, not mine. We are never going to please everyone and if we try to then we stop pleasing ourselves. This one isn’t always easy to do, but each day try to focus your mindset toward embracing your true beauty because that way you are going to attract the tribe that does vibe with you and who you are.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO
Before I went on my solo trip, I watched a talk by Mel Gibs called How to Beat Self-Doubt in 5 Seconds. In it, she talks about her 5-second count down rule before action. I decided to try this out in situations where my mind and fear were stopping me from doing something I really wanted to. I’d think of something I wanted to do, my mind would chime up with its anxiety-driven stories and I’d count down from 5. When I reached 0 I just did it without overthinking. This way you are almost forced into taking action and it has led to some beautiful experiences. You can even use it to get out of bed if you always snooze your alarm but want to start getting up earlier. Just count down from 5 and then get out of bed without thinking about it. Once you’re in the thick of the action, you forget about how scared you were.
Use your past experiences to overcome new ones
Now I’ve successfully completed a few anxiety-inducing activities, I can use the outcomes of those as ways to counter my current anxiety. When I want to do something and I get scared, I think well, last time I did something similar that I was scared about, absolutely nothing bad happened, so the chances are absolutely nothing bad will happen this time as well. It’s funny because 99% of the things we worry about never actually happen. We waste so so so much time worrying about things and creating scenarios that will never materialize. Instead of wasting time worrying, I now try to visualize the best-case scenario because what we focus on is more likely to happen.
I want to leave you with a mantra that I’ve been using most days during my solo trip. I saw it from a wonderfully empowering woman on Instagram called Activationvibration: “everything is working out best-case scenario.” This mantra has been very comforting for me, and I hope that it can be for you too.
Also by Louise: How To Fall In Love With Your Body—Not Just How It Looks, But How It *Feels*
Surprising Way Your Friends Affect Your Happiness (& What To Do About It)
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Photo: Louise Baker; Matt Flores on Unsplash; Katrina on Unsplash