Sometimes I feel like i’m 99.9% imbued with fear, fear overwhelms me. That poor little 0.1% courage has to do battle continuously, day and night, week after week, year after year; a lifetime of internal warfare. Even Hercules only had the 12 tasks and no doubt got to take a fair few breathers with alluring shapely maidens in between!
I’m not Hercules, I’m Aisling and my tasks are in comparison pretty puny; I doubt people would have judged Hercules too harshly had he been defeated by the nine-headed serpent lady or if he had taken two days rather than one to clean the smelly shed. Comparatively, people find it harder to fathom why getting out the front door to work would be such a laborious task or sitting in a one-on-one meeting with an authority figure or having to spend long periods of time alone.
In my anxiety ridden mind that step out the front door is a step into a world where criticisms and judgments are hurled at me like fiery canon balls; agents of this fast and furious city are lurking and ready to snuff out my pathetic, useless self; my terrible secret could be spilled at any moment – my inability sloshing onto the street for all to see. That authority figure is going to tear me down, “put me in my place”, like my English teacher did when I was in Secondary School. Those long periods alone is when that harshly critical voice, (people who tend to doubt themselves know well), gets louder and more seething.
On my worst days I give up, depression and self-loathing snake in and I step backwards into my lonely cave, out of the fight, into the fog full of whispers. “Where’s my shapely maiden?”, I ask full of self pity.
The psychology books and the CBT councilors tell you to face your fear, that cowering from it may provide short-term relief but it will inevitably lead to a lowering of self-belief in the long-term. I’ve found this to be very true, however, the more difficult sub-clause to this is learning not to berate myself when I do skulk back into the shadows. I’ve had to accept that sometimes I will be beaten by that fear but as yer man Beckett himself does be sayin –
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”
Cooperating with my CBT training I now aim to move past the failure by writing down what happened, the triggers, the feelings, the feeling following the initial feelings! (variously called an Emotional Diary/Thoughts Diary/Cognitive Diary, see http://www.excelatlife.com/forms/cognitive_diary.htm).
CFT (Compassion Focused Therepy) might recommend I write myself a compassionate letter, e.g. “Memories from the past were triggered and your fight, flight, freeze or appease response kicked in to protect you. You got scared, it happens to everyone, nobody finds dealing with distress easy but you do have the strength and wisdom to do it”(http://www.compassionfocusedtherapy.com.au/resources.html)
Both methods are ways to allow me to learn more effectively from the “failure” (let’s be sickeningly positive and call it a “lesson”), to identify what feelings reared their head and why, and ultimately to put it behind me and move on to the next battle.
Each time courage wins or even just makes a little ground, it grows in size. Fear’s proportion shrinks a little and there’s room in me for more me! 🙂
“A small daily task if it really be daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules” – Anthony Trollope
It really does take courage to clamber out of that dark hole in the rock, turning away from those foggy whispers that tell you they are protecting you, teaching you . . . but that view from the outside is worth it; that feeling of having control of your own choices.
If anyone tells you that’s not an admirable feat akin to a legendary champion just laugh in their face, manically if you want to add some extra umpph.