Observe your anxiety without it taking control

I recently had an epiphany!

I posted a blog last September about tackling my own fear of swimming in open water and keeping my eyes open when looking down. (https://www.thedrivinganxietycoach.co.uk/practicing-as-i-preach/)

I was sure that even though I had been very successful in achieving my goal in keeping my eyes open under water, I may have lost the ability to feel as comfortable doing the same again after not swimming face down through the winter. (Yes, I swim all year round.   Cold water swimming / emersion is a proven anxiety and stress relief together with many other physical and mental health benefits.  Even just simply turning the shower to cold for the last few seconds of your shower.

My epiphany came recently when I was doing one of my regular early morning swims with a group of like-minded souls.  I found myself swimming between two different groups. One group I had been swimming with turned back on themselves to return to the bank as they had a greater time restriction than me.  Another group were on the other side of the lake.   I started to swim towards this group but  found myself swimming on my own in the middle of this deep and dark lake.

It was at this point the monkey brain started to chatter.  I hadn’t heard it for quite a while as I rarely swim without someone else quite near me. But here I was, on my own, with one group swimming away, and I was aiming to swim towards the second group who were about 100 meters or so from me and continuing increase the gap.

When I say the monkey brain started to chatter… I quite expected to hear it to take over and feel the anxiety overwhelm me.  But it didn’t!  I didn’t feel a hundred percent comfortable, but I certainly didn’t get the overwhelming rise of anxiety either!  I calmly went into front crawl, face down… eyes open and one stroke after another I reached the second group of swim buddies.

I’ll repeat that… I kept my eyes open with my goggles on and didn’t feel any overwhelming rises in anxiety!

So, what was happening?  The desensitisation I had worked on last year was still there!  Yes, I felt the anxiety start to rise, but I acknowledged its presence, and it didn’t overwhelm me at all. I OBSERVED IT, BUT IT DIDN’T CONTROL ME!

Desensitisation through exposure therapy alongside other coping strategies, including Neuro Linguistic Programming can be helpful in so many areas of our life so we can simply observe how we feel without it controlling us and sabotaging the things we want and need to do.

How would you like to get to a point where you can observe the anxiety and the unhelpful chatter from the sabotaging monkey brain, but be able to simply acknowledge it, quieten the chatter and continue with moving forward?  There is no magic wand, but it IS possible!


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