Overcoming Fear, Anxiety and Self-Doubt

by Belinda on August 14, 2012

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If you’ve ever struggled with fear, anxiety or self-doubt……then this blog is just for YOU.

Today I want to share a few of my (very) personal experiences, in the hope that it gives you HOPE and even faith, that you can overcome these debilitating emotions and be completely free to lead a fulfilled and happy life.

Let me paint you the picture.

The man I married when I was 23 years old, suffered from a serious panic disorder.   He resorted to extreme means – including medication, specialists and even strict diets – in the hope of finding a solution.  Nothing worked and it was torturous seeing him suffer, being too afraid to do simple activities like avoiding certain places because they had elevators or heights or restaurants because they had certain foods.   At a young age this was difficult to understand – but with my love, support and patience he gradually was able to overcome his fears and go on to lead a normal life.

I tell you this, so you know straight up, I have had first hand

experience with extreme panic and anxiety disorders.

Fast forward, to our divorce after 15 years of marriage. I suddenly found myself alone under very unexpected and traumatic circumstances.  I couldn’t sleep at night and I started feeling very anxious about simple things I had always taken for granted.

I had always been very “capable”, managing our finances, home, major decisions plus having my own very successful senior management career.

But simple things became very stressful.  Without reason or logic. 

For example, going to the ATM became a very anxious experience, my palms sweated, my heart raced – and I had no idea why.   It’s not that I had financial difficulties, because thanks goodness, I didn’t.

But nevertheless, it gradually escalated into every situation involving finances including going into the bank and doing my online banking.  Even just using my credit cards was stressful and I had a sick feeling rushing up from my stomach, as each transaction would go through.

It’s difficult to write about this even now – but I am sharing to illustrate that you can’t assume that just because someone looks on the outside like they have their sh*t together – that on the inside they aren’t struggling.

It’s more common than you think, and if that’s you right now you are not alone!  There’s a good chance people you know who appear super fit, highly successful and extremely organized are challenged with debilitating fears, reoccurring anxieties and unnerving self-doubts!

But one day I decided, “enough was enough”. 

I didn’t want to go through the rest of my life living with extremely distressing emotions that were taking away from my personal happiness at a very deep level.  The happiness and peace I had worked so hard to achieve post-divorce.

Up until that point, I felt like I had blindly been going along, struggling against the horrible feelings to get what I had to, done.  When anxiety-producing thoughts came along, I allowed them to dictate how I would feel.   I weathered the storm the best I could, until they subsided.

Listen, it took a herculean effort to overcome the pain of my divorce, not having the children I had always wanted, having my Christian faith undermined and feeling like I had lost everything that was most precious to me.  But I did it! I adventure traveled alone, learned to surf, picked up Spanish, met tons of amazing and incredible people – and truly “lived the dream” (I’ve talked about those experiences a little on my blog – but today I open up about the hidden side, the struggles on the inside).

After all that hard work to reestablish myself and my life, in Panama, far away from my family on the other side of the world, begin a new career in fitness and realize the dream of having my own business – I decided, I wasn’t going to let fears, anxieties and self-doubt rob me of happiness anymore.   I wasn’t going to allow myself to invest precious emotional life energy into it.  When the bad thoughts and feelings came, I acknowledged them, but just said “no I am not going to get upset, I am letting them go, I have worked too hard and my freedom is too precious – to waste my emotional energy anymore.

At first it was very challenging because old habits die hard!

But I didn’t give up and each time, it got a little easier.  Until one day realized, the fears and anxieties had gone – forever.  I felt “normal” again and was able to manage everything feeling relaxed, empowered and in control.

Experts call this approach, paying attention to the present moment or “mindfulness”.

Mindfulness is being fully aware and focused on the present – rather than focusing future fears or “what might happen”. Trying to “stop thinking negative thoughts” only makes them worse and freezes us in inaction – but simply observing them like passing clouds can diffuse their emotional power and make us feel capable, strong and able to deal with the here and now.

When fearful or anxious thoughts come to us, our natural reaction is to try and logically “argue” with them in an attempt to alleviate the distressing emotions. This rarely works as the thoughts are not “rational” lol.  Instead, if we focus on the distressing emotions, and decide to “let them go” and not invest our energy into them, it diffuses the bad feelings so we are stronger to face the thoughts more objectively.  Over time, they lose their emotional power.  We become stronger and are able to dismiss negatives thoughts and distressing emotions easily. We can move through daily life feeling capable and empowered to deal with any situation.

Today, if you’re reading this blog,

you probably fall into 1 of 3 situations.

 

Situation 1: You’re an everyday person who occasionally suffers from normal fears, anxieties and self-doubt, particularly when facing new challenging situations or triggers from the past.

Here are a few books I have found very useful:

 

 

 

 

 

Situation 2: You’re like I used to be where the fears and anxieties make it very uncomfortable and stressful to do regular daily things that other people may never think twice about.

In addition to the books above, here is a powerfully effective program.  Please check out the blog (click link at the top right) as there are some excellent resources there:

Panic-Away Program

Note: In order to end an anxiety problem, you must take decisive action. You have to go after an anxiety free life; it will not find you. Some people resist taking the first step because they feel guilty about investing time or money in themselves. Investing in a proven solution not only helps YOU, but it also benefits ALL the people around you.

 

Situation 3:  You’re unable to live your life as you want due to fear dominating your behavior and decision making.

It’s time to get some professional help.  Nothing to be ashamed or afraid of.  The relief you will have from taking action and talking to someone will be a powerful healer in itself. Make an appointment today to speak with your local doctor or physician who can recommend the best person for your individual situation.  They care more than you realize and are professionals who can help you.

It’s been quite a journey for me over the last 8 years since my divorce, but today I look back feeling very proud of myself (in the most humblest way), knowing that the freedom and peace I have, was earned through never ever giving up on myself, never ever allowing my circumstances to take over…..and always believing that a better life for myself lay ahead.  It did, and I am here today living it to the max as testimony that anything is possible.

Never, ever, ever give up!

 

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Judith December 29, 2012 at 2:21 am

Thank you for writing of your fears and triumphs in this entry. Everyone can relate at some point to feeling overwhelmed and worried about where they are going and what they are doing with their life, it helps to hear that these anxieties will pass, and that the best is yet to come, if you are open and free to receive it :)

Best wishes,

Judith

PS: Great to hear you’re coming out with your own training DVD! Yay! Definitely put me down for a copy :)

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Belinda December 29, 2012 at 5:58 am

Thank you Judith! I really do tell myself this when times are tough – it will pass and life will get better…and it does! Bel xo

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Anonymous November 27, 2012 at 10:45 pm

you could have an awesome blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my weblog?

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maryann cannon August 22, 2012 at 8:17 am

Hi Belinda,
thanks for sharing a wonderful and inspiring story. I am feeling Stuck, I have ordered the programs from Joey but I have done nothing with them. The material says if you want to loose weight you have to do 30-45 minutes of cardio a day plus all the work-outs, I feel right back where I was spending 1-2 hours at the gym thats what burned me out. The Get Lean program testonials are mostly women that aren’t over weight, just need toning, lifting and sculpting. How will this work for someone who needs to loose 30lbs. This is the reason why I’m stuck, my fear is that I will build muscle and not loose the weight. A good weight for me is
132 lbs not I am 163, already lost 20lbs thru cardio only. I want a program that will give me all the tools I need to get to where I want to be. Too much information is overwhelming for me and I totaly shut off. I don’t want to read I want to actually watch and learn form. I’m paralized in my own skin and don’t know how to move forward.

Thanks Maryann xox

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Belinda August 22, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Helloooo!!

My pleasure. OK, here’s what I’m thinking. For where you’re at, Joey’s program is be ideal. My advice, is to get it out and start tomorrow :) Commit to doing it 4 times a week for the next 4 weeks. I think you will be surprised at the results. Please keep me posted on how it goes. When you are ready for the next level of challenge….then Get Lean will be here waiting and ready to take you to the next level.

Belinda

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Steve August 18, 2012 at 7:26 am

Hi Belinda,
WOW, I can certainly relate to your experiences!
After nearly 40 years of living the life my family chose for me I finally decided enough was enough! I faced my fears of rejection, fear of failing and years of unfounded anxiety, to eventually find myself in place I was most satisfied to be in. However, I think it also needs to be said that because we are constantly evolving, our dreams and ambitions often change too therefore it is also beneficial to continue to face any possible future anxieties before they arise too!
Love this blog post, it is one of my favorites, thank you.

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Belinda August 18, 2012 at 8:22 am

Hi Steve – it must be incredible to wake up each day, knowing what you have come through and realizing (again) those days are over. No doubt there were some extremely challenging times, and a high cost to pay to break free from those fears and anxieties – but the rewards are infinite. Congratulations for being able to dig deep and find the strength to change your situation.

I love what you wrote: “we are constantly evolving, our dreams and ambitions often change too therefore it is also beneficial to continue to face any possible future anxieties before they arise too”….so true and wise.

I think that’s one of the biggest challenges of leading a truly happy, fulfilled and peace-filled life, allowing ourselves to constantly grow and evolve – but also being able to manage how those changes affect our life and those around us.

I am working on facing the challenges of my future now!!

Thanks for taking the time to post such a thoughtful response :)

Belinda

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Darren August 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

Hi Belinda, Thank you for sharing your story, very topical for me at the moment with my pending divorce, On one side of the coin its very stressful, Ive been with the same lady since I was 18 (Im now 40) but on the other side Im remaining philosophical through the pain associated with it, I know it will pass, A bit like looking at the dark clouds, and knowing behind them the sun will shine through with its brilliance, life is good, Im fit and healthy. the worlds an amazing place with lots of great people.
thanks once again for writing this.
Darren. Victoria Australia
P:S Thanks also for the tip regarding the taking of Omega 3″s before bed, taking a krill oil every night, Im feeling great :)

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Belinda August 17, 2012 at 7:35 am

Hi Darren, thank you – sharing my story and experiences isn’t always easy but I do it because I know it does help people who visit my blog…after all, fitness is just one aspect of total well-being.

No matter what the circumstances, divorce is extremely tough – it makes you question yourself, your choices in life and your own beliefs and values, at their deepest level. Some people can only cope by sweeping all that under the carpet – and others use the experience to face up to some home truths that are life changing for the better.

It sounds like you are the latter and have a strong, healthy mind set – yes time is the healer, and no matter how bad the pain, it subsides and new things open up. I never would have dreamed I would be living on the other side of the world with my own fitness business – but here I am lol!

Great to hear the Omega 3’s are doing wonders….amazing stuff to be sure!! All the best for the next phase of your journey – don’t forget to celebrate your milestones and reward yourself :)

Belinda

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Jodi Cummings August 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm

As always your blogs are so inspirational. It is so easy to judge other people thinking that they have everything. I too found myself very suddenly alone raising my two teenage children after my husband decided he wanted to be with somebody else. I have always thought of myself as very capable, confident person before this and although I never had panic attacks as such, at times found it hard to function even on the most basic level, extremely emotion, very fragile and my self confidence at an all time low. Fast forward 18 months and I can say I am truely happy. Working everyday on my fitness and creating a happiness in my life and that of my kids that I never had before. Thank you for keeping me motivated :)

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Belinda August 17, 2012 at 7:53 am

Thank you Jodi :)

So true on the judging, I have been really humbled over the years realizing the behind the scenes challenges seemingly successful people can face.

18 months is a fast recovery time from not feeling like you could cope – so awesome work. I agree the fitness is so HUGE….my surfing was my lifeline, apart from the health aspects and feeling good about your body and yourself – the mental and emotional relief it brings, being focused on doing something positive and empowering for yourself…is fantastic therapy!

So great to hear you are creating your own happiness, for yourself and your kids and are going on to live your life fulfilled way beyond what it was before..and of course…the best is yet to come!! Thanks for following my blog and please keep me updated!!

Bel xoxo

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Lauren August 15, 2012 at 12:23 am

Hi Belinda,
Thankyou so much for sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration for everyone and an excellent role model for me! Thankyou for continually inspiring and motivating me through your blog,
Best wishes, Lauren :)

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Belinda August 15, 2012 at 7:10 am

Hi Lauren :)

My pleasure…thank you so much for taking the time to post this sweet comment! It means a lot to me as I do put my heart and soul into my posts, and knowing they make a difference is so rewarding.

Sending you empowering success vibes for your own personal journey!

Belinda xo

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ewa August 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm

hey Belinda really thank you for opening up yourself, i also ,,learned” to have panic attacks at home and just few months ago graduatly it stopped, , it always compromised my fitness, till i found your blog and of Kat Eden, and now getting stronger with program of Joey Atlas, i really believe, i really believe that through good exercise you can cure yourself from fears and depresions, when i think back, when i was younger i met so many doctors just trying to give you drugs so you would just stop function and sit and wait( for what?), what worked by me was simply taking rest and changing envirment, after all i was only tired and stressed, i know there are really sick people i cant advise to just take it easy and stop taking pills etc. but most of us are just tired , stressed and unfit, and thats the way our body tells us its enough….have great day Belinda

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Belinda August 15, 2012 at 7:38 am

Hi Ewa, nice to hear from you again :)

I love your observations about how good exercise and diet can make a huge difference to overcoming fears and depression. I know when I was going through my divorce it was a life saver. At the very least, it’s a natural, safe and healthy way to feel better about yourself!!

Keep me posted on how your new program is going,

Belinda xoxo

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Rick August 14, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Thank you for the courage to write this entry.

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Belinda August 15, 2012 at 7:36 am

Thank you Rick! Bel

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Paul August 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Hi Belinda thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad you managed to overcome your own and your ex-husband’s panic disorders. I also have experienced panic disorders with both myself and my family. To go out at any time for me now or even to stay in the house is a big challenge for me due to a health problem where I experience blackouts. It has cost me my career and my driving license so my whole life has been affected. I also had a near fatal accident when I blacked out and fell through a glass door and nearly bled to death but luckily recovered from it.
My uncle also suffers from a panic disorder from a fear of flying. His wife cannot go on holiday with him because of this. I’m not sure exactly whether he’ll ever be able to recover from this or not.
I always read your blogs with great interest Belinda,
Paul :)

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Belinda August 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

Hi Paul, wow that certainly is a lot of issues for you and your family. I am so sorry to hear about those blackouts. I hope you have a good doctor to support you.

Take care…..and look after yourself, I always appreciate your comments on my blog.

Belinda

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Gwen Wendell August 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Belinda,
Thanks for sharing your story and I sooooooooooooooooo can’t wait for your DVD release at the beginning of the New Year so I can finally do your workouts, you see I do not have a home computer or cell phone with all the gadgets. So it will be nice to have a workout DVD………….thanks Gwen/Texas :->

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Belinda August 15, 2012 at 8:37 am

Thank you Gwen!! I am excited about it also – I can’t wait to do a follow along DVD :)

Bel xo

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Gwen Wendell August 15, 2012 at 9:33 am

What a way to start the New year with a workout dvd with Ms. Belinda Benn. Looking forward to it’s release with great anticipation………..Gwen/Texas :->

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