#WithSelfLove: Confidence vs Anxiety
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#WithSelfLove: Confidence vs Anxiety

December 20, 2017
Have you ever had that feeling of anxiety rushing over your body? 
That feeling of panic or lack of control over your thoughts, feelings, and emotions?
If so, you are not alone!
For so many of us, anxiety has the potential of holding us back from living the life that we desire.
It feels as though we have this constant shadow cast over our brain, our thoughts racing from over analysing, many a night tossing and turning, skin burning, pores sweating, stomach churning.
And all that we want… is for it to leave us alone!
My Journey:
It was late on a Sunday night when my phone rang. I answered the call to one of my closest friends asking for a favour. 
“Jeff, I’m stuck - I need to get back to the Army Barracks in Oxfordshire!” 
I was 22 years old, living alone in a Town called Chelmsford. After much debate, my friend had convinced me to pick him up and drive him to Oxfordshire so that he wouldn’t be reprimanded by his officer in the morning.
I stepped out of my warm home into the cold winter's night air and made my way to my car. As I pulled out of the driveway I thought to myself:
“It’s 30mins drive to his house, then another 2hrs and 30mins to Army Barracks
AND THEN a 3hr drive back home!” 
I was ill, tired and just wishing I could be in the comfort of my home. Yet, here I was driving across the country for a 6hr trip just to help out a friend.
The longer I drove the more my mind became awash with self-doubt!
“I’ve never driven this far before”
- What if I crash
- What if I get lost
- What if I fall asleep at the wheel
- What if, What if, What if?!
The more I thought about the journey ahead the more I started to panic.
The harder I tried to fight the feeling the stronger it took hold.

 

I was about 1hr into the drive as I pulled onto the Motorway when it HIT!
      
All of the worry and doubt had come to life and before I knew it I was driving at 60miles per hour, having a full-blown panic attack!

 

A flood of panic started racing through my veins, my skin felt as though it was on fire and my vision became a blur.
Rational thought had deserted me, instead fear had embraced me.

 

All I could think about was stopping the car and getting off the road… but I froze.
Breakthrough:
Since that day, I was plagued with an endless stream of anxiety.  
- Going new places 
- Meeting new people
- Job interview
- performing on stage
You name it, if it was outside of my comfort zone I'd have a sudden feeling of panic rush over me!  
I’d then make an excuse to avoid the situation altogether and retreat back into my old familiar, safe, comfortable life.
But it’s within this action of avoidance where anxiety grows. The harder I tried to fight it the stronger it became. You see, there is one simple truth about anxiety that I never knew back then, and it’s this one truth that was the key to set me free. Anxiety is simply a lack of confidence. Or to put it another way:
- Lack of control
- Uncertainty
- Fear of the unknown
As soon as I started to reframe my anxiety as a lack of confidence I instantly started to feel more in control. I had this sudden realisation: “Anxiety is uncontrollable, but confidence…  confidence is something I can work on!” I now help all of my clients who are seeking relief from anxiety, not to suppress, control or diminish their anxiety, but instead to increase their confidence. Instead of focusing on the negative (anxiety) we spend all of our time focusing on the positive (confidence). The two go hand in hand. The more confident you are about any given task the lower your anxiety will be, just like, the more anxious you are about a task the lower your confidence will be.
So the question is “how do I become more confident?”
 
Build Your Confidence To Overcome Your Anxiety:
In order for us to regain control and start to build our confidence, then we must first seek to desensitise our minds to the negative stimulus. Systematic Desensitisation (Exposure) therapy is a very powerful way to overcome fears fast. By desensitising yourself to the negative stimulus it will allow us to dampen the fear response centre of the brain, giving us back control. 
To get started follow these steps:
1. Identify the specific fear that you want to challenge
- Spiders (the example we’ll use)
- Driving
- Public speaking
2. Think about that fear as if it was happening right now
- Add in colour, emotions, sounds, smells
- Make the images in your mind as real as you can.
3. Rate yourself on a scale of 1- 10
- 1, no fear at all
- 10, crippling anxiety 
4. Bring the fear level to a level 7 
- e.g: imagine the spider in the distance coming closer
- As it gets closer to your face your fear level will increase.
- Freeze frame the image when the fear reaches a level 7. 
- Distressing, but not overly distressing.
5. Hold that image until the fear level comes down
- When your brain realises that there is no threat, your anxiety will start to drop
- What goes up must come down.  
- Hold that thought until the feeling drop below a 5
6. Bring the spider image closer until you reach level
- Look at the details, movement, colour
- Sit with this image again until the feelings drop below 5. 
7. Repeat the process until its moved to your comfort zone.
- Once you can imagine a big, hairy tarantula walking across your face, into your mouth, then you’re ready to move on.
8. From mind to images. 
- Once you’ve concurred your mind, next look at images and videos on the internet. 
- Again, start small, work your way up and sit with the anxiety until the feeling comes down to under a 5.
- Repeat this process until you’re permanently under a 5.
9. The final challenge
- Once you’ve conquered your mind, images, and video
- It’s time to practice in the real world.
- Have the support of a friend or counsellor
- Start small
- Slowly build yourself up (over time)
- When you’re ready… hold a tarantula in the palm of your hands. 
It's a simple but extremely powerful process and it can be used on any form of fear-based anxiety.  In fact, it’s this exact strategy that I used to get back behind the wheel. After driving at 60 miles per hour down the motorway and freezing, I was lucky to have had my friend by my side. He grabbed the steering wheel and gradually guided us to the safety of the hard shoulder.
Panic can be completely debilitating, but with the right strategy in place and the right support surrounding you, you can break through your fear, build your confidence and finally be free from your anxiety.
You don’t have to struggle alone.  Reach out for help so that you can take back control of your life. That's what we have created a free 12 week confidence course, With Self Love, for anyone who may feel a lack of control over their thoughts, feelings and emotions.
So until next time… Have an awesome and inspiring rest of your day.
With Self Love,
Jeff Spires
About the author
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