I am an anxious person. This is not news, but as I continue to navigate my way through life I continue trying to find the “why” behind my feelings/emotions/behaviors. Fear and anxiety are hardwired into our psychology for good reason – these intuitive emotions help to protect us from dangerous situations. Fear can act as a motivator to prepare us for the unexpected, but fear can also act as a paralytic.
My fear has somehow evolved over time from a healthy and mindful reminder of my boundaries, to an unkempt field of weeds.
The thing about me is that while I acknowledge that I am anxious and overly fearful at times, I am also actively working against myself to determine what is real, and what is not. I am quite literally filtering through my fears. What is causing me to feel anxious most of the time is a false reality somehow skewed by my experiences over time. When we try to repress these thoughts or feelings we continue to stay stuck in an unhealthy cycle, making poor choices along the way. When we acknowledge these thoughts or feelings we grow.
I choose to swim through these thoughts rather than allow them to drown me.
Life experiences play a large role in our mental health, but I truly believe that a significant amount of our dysphoria is reflective of our physical bodies as well. Hormonal imbalances, and digestive distresses are key factors in our mental health. The gut is referred to as our second brain for a reason, the close knit inner workings of our true brain and our guts are very real. What we think we feel, and what we feel we think.
The reason we feel like we need to rush to the bathroom when we are nervous, or when we feel a pain in our stomach when we are afraid, is all relative to these homeostatic relationships within our bodies.
I have a borderline obsession with researching the topic of physical and mental health correlations, and the knowledge I have gained has me often wanting to scream the benefits of proper nutrition and lifestyle from the tallest mountain. Sometimes though, these basic humanistic necessities aren’t enough to balance our inner beings, and we need a little help from external sources. My hormones have been out of whack for an unreasonable amount of time, and I recently decided to experiment with a herbal hormone balancing blend.
I am blown away by the results.
For the first time in what feels like lightyears I feel balanced. I feel stable. I feel less anxious and less “down.” I’m not saying this is a magic bullet, but I do believe in the power of nature helping to bring us back to our factory setting. My mood the last month has been lighter, I have been more sociable, I have been more empathetic, more compassionate. I have been more…whole.
My fear is still hanging around, but most of the scenarios in which I feel fearful are realistic.
Examples of appropriate fear I have recently felt are: not wanting to drive in the snow, and challenging the idea of a hike in the snow. Snow and I are not good pals. I once got lost for hours on a hike because of snow, and I have slid too many times on the roads because of snow. Examples of inappropriate fear I have recently felt are: fear of rejection, and wanting to cancel on friends because I fear being a burden. Spoiler alert – a worthy friend will never make you feel like a burden.
With downs come ups, and it feels good to be on the other end of this yo-yo. I know the downs are inevitable, but I’ll take the ups for as long as I can. With the shift in my mood I have had more of a desire to be social, to get out of my comfort bubble of isolation and spend more time with others. I am thankful to have met new pals who enjoy hiking as much as I do, and each “yes” I say when I am invited on a hike helps propel me further forward.
I turned 32 last week, and while I had big plans of spending every year of my 30’s in Europe, Covid had other plans. Instead I went for a hike with three new pals. A snowy, wet, adventurous, new to me hike. I swear I just turned 30, yet here we are already at 32. The older I get the more I reflect on my life in my 20’s. Somedays I feel I have made zero progress in my life, but each year I make moves in the right direction. I no longer feel the need to “fix” my problems. I am content in diving deep to the roots of what I am feeling.
The beauty of change.
It’s ok to feel fear. It’s ok to feel anxious. What’s not ok is letting these feelings control you. The beneficial fear is directly related to physical safety, while the rest of it is a result of over thinking, societal conditions, and unresolved trauma from earlier in life. I am finding joy in this process of working through the weeds I have grown in my mind. For so long I have avoided my own mental garden, but how freeing it feels to be so in tune with myself.
What would happen if we looked at the bigger picture of our lives? If we are feeling more anxious, more fearful, or more down than normal. Are we taking care of our physical body? Have we allowed ourselves to work through any weeds in our minds? Are we spending time with others, in whatever manner works for us with the current state of the world? This is a classic case of what came first, the mental or physical ailments? Small changes in the things we can control have the power to make large changes in the things we cannot.
I am one year older, but I feel multiple years wiser. I can only imagine this continues to get better as I continue to age.
To anyone out there who feels paralyzed by fear, you are not alone. I challenge you to question the root cause of these feelings, and to filter out what is true and what is conditioned over years of imbalances. Say yes to something that scares you, tell someone how you feel about them, value your worth because you only get one shot at this thing called life.
We can choose to stay stuck in the shadows, or we can learn to dance in the sun.
Q: How do you deal with fear?
32 thoughts on “Filtering Fear”
Very insightful and inspiring post Brittany. With age cones experience so I was intrigued to read how your 30-something self looked back on your 20-something self. At twice your age, I’ve also gone through those decade transitions and I really wish my 60-something self could go back and reassure my much younger self. The difference between you and me at 32 is that I did my have your introspection at that age…it took me a lot longer to gain that! Keep venturing out, keep allowing people into your life who nurture your and your can also nurture for it is in reaching out to help others that we often help ourselves the most! Be well and be thankful!
Thank you friend! Life is such a wonderful and wild journey, with so many feelings. I too wish I could go back at times, and I’m sure I will continue to feel this way.
Alas, this thought helps remind me in the moment that one day what I am fearful of might not even be a blip on the radar anymore!
I once read “Fear is just excitement without the breath.”
My fear tricks are breathing. Consciously relaxing when my muscles tense up. Take big tasks (like riding a long bike tour) and chop them up into manageable smaller ones (I’m riding until 3 pm today.)
Don’t let the anticipation of bad things hijack today. Bad things are bound to happen. You’ll deal with them when they do. Wiz Khalifa says, “Worrying is stupid. It’s like carrying an umbrella waiting for it to rain on a sunny day.”
Hikes are so good for your brain. Lucky you that you’ve discovered this.
I love that Wiz Khalifa quote, thanks for sharing. As well as the one above it.
Breaking tasks into chunks, or other endeavors is SO helpful!
Thistles and Kiwis
I have only recently acknowledged that I am an anxious person. Of course, we all feel nervous before an exam or a big event, but I definitely have an underlying anxiety about failure, rejection and failing to live up to imaginary expectations. Thank you so much for this post. It came just at the right time for me.
My experience with anxiety really started to develop over the last 6 or so years. I didn’t used to struggle with it. I think more of us are feeling similarly than we realize. ❤️
Not sure if I’m gonna get this right
Dance like no ones watching
Sing like no one can hear
Love like there’s no tomorrow
Try to live with no regrets….
Understand You are who You are because of where You’ve been….
“You are who you are because of where you’ve been.” I love that. ❤️
The pictures are stunning! And yes, I have no doubts that each year you will look back and see that you became wise and more in control of your life.
Thank you friend. Each year is a new learning experience!
I hope it feels good to share the fear and struggles. That is how we work through our trama and help other to as well. What you said about facing and filtering is spot on. I usually get my “fearfest” in dreams. What I have been trying to do to counter them when I wake up with prayer and calling the fear what it is. I also try and twist the bad dream into a better ending so it won’t stick. I know crazy stuff, but trying to get victory over it.
Hey, I wanted to invite you to something I started during COVID. It is 15 min Facebook Live encourage time every Monday at 4:44. Here is a sample. Maybe you could use a little pick me up from fellow bloggers and creatives?
Have a great week!
I think your approach with your dreams sounds like a great idea. Whatever it takes to help flip the narrative.
I’m not currently on Facebook, but if I decide to go on I will check this out. Thank you!
You have a lot of people pulling for you and with you.
I just noticed your video posted without the need to go on Facebook, how cool. Thank you for sharing!
I really enjoyed reading this piec. Thought out I envisioned myself in situations where I am anxious and I just reminded myself of the evidence present for a rational evaluation amd positive self talk always helps me most of the time without having to apply any other coping skills at that given moment
That’s a great skill, thanks for sharing!
Great job facing your anxiety!
Growth in the discomfort!
Mentally Ill In America
This is likely very simplistic, but are you consuming any caffeine? And, how about a predisposition to mental health issues. Sometimes anxiety can be rooted in trauma. I’ve only just discovered your blog, so forgive me if I don’t know your whole story.
I do consume caffeine, but I try to be mindful of it. I know some days caffeine is a no no, and some days I can get away with it. I also have deeeeppp rooted trauma that I have discussed briefly in previous posts, which I think is a huge root cause of most of my anxiety. I’m definitely focusing on more of the trauma than the caffeine. 🙂
Mentally Ill In America
I hear you. I wish you the best in finding peace. It’s a great goal, and one that I’m working on too. Take care.
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Enjoyed this, Brittany! I’m going to look further into the relationship between mind and gut, as you have mentioned it. Thank you 🙌
I hope it helps you, it has been most helpful for me in many ways!
Anxiety is a struggle and I can do relate with a lot of your post! Keep challenging yourself and navigating the weeds! I wish someone had told me that 20 years ago! x
All in time. It only makes us stronger, right? 🤪❤️
I try to deal with fear by keeping full faith in God and trying to maintain a positive outlook towards life. Why can’t we all be kids again with no worries
Same! Some days are easier than others. Kids don’t know how easy they have it.
I do try meditation to deal with thoughts