A long time ago…… A long time ago……. A long time ago………To you the phrase “A long time ago” may mean nothing but to me these four words were repeated about four times out of my mouth during a public speaking class in college before I pushed through the fear and started speaking fluidly! Like many, I was so resentful of that class and would have taken the opportunity to drop it in a second if there was an option. WE ALL HAVE FEARS. Public speaking, sadness, anger, rejection, embarrassment, illness, heights, public places, driving, being alone, socializing, vomit and failure are just a few common fears. With fear and unwanted emotions comes anxiety and distress.
Some lean into the fear with intense anxiety and distress while others choose avoidance coping so they never have to feel the discomfort. I’ve worked with individuals who won’t drive on highways, drink, self-medicate, turned down major promotions in fear of public speaking, kids who stop going to school or won’t play outside, all the way to not leaving one’s bedroom. Avoidance coping is one of those things that works to provide short term stress relief but ultimately backfires causing more stress and can shrink your world.
I say this all the time: you can try all of the external coping skills in the world (ie. taking a walk, reading a book, etc) but learning to use your mind to cope is a valuable mental strength that you can apply no matter where you are. The counseling program at A Little Counseling is built upon this foundation. If you, your child or partner are done with avoidance coping and want to start dealing with your fears and unwanted emotions head on, I’d like to congratulate you on taking the first step to opening your world back up. Get ready to feel all the discomfort that comes along with stepping outside your comfort zone. The good news is that with time those things that once made you want to run the other way should eventually become tolerable and maybe even enjoyable. As for myself, I still don’t love public speaking, but I don’t let it get in the way of things I want to do. Like all embarrassment, my moment of repeating the same phrase over and over again has gone away, I’m not perfect, and also it was “A long time ago.” 😉
Call A Little Counseling if you’re ready to stop avoiding and start building your mental strength. It may be time to take your mind to the gym -- or our office.