Updated: Apr 8, 2020
Ever since yesterday, I’ve been in and out of panic mode. As I’ve begun to truly understand the impact of the virus and how we’re all becoming affected, there are so many things to worry about from health and safety to the economy and employment.
As a new business owner, the prospect of a recession is not thrilling. I just started my business and taking everything in, I started to panic considering if my business will survive the economic downturn.
I caught myself in a total spiral of fear, as I’m sure many of you have also been experiencing.
You can identify if you're in a fear spiral when everything suddenly becomes colored with the tint of fear.
When you are looking through the eyes of fear, everything becomes scary. First it’s the virus, then my business, then my family, then the future, then my cat, then whatever else. Fear is a perspective and nervous system state.
When you’re in a state of fight or flight, everything you perceive will appear treacherous and terrifying, and if you can't get out of this state no matter what happens it'll be triggering.
When you’re in fear, you are looking at everything through the lens of anxiety.
You can also identify this state by noticing your body. As I went about my morning, I was stress cleaning (something I do when I’m chewing on something mentally) and I could feel my blood pumping and my body getting hot (another way to tell if you’re in a fear spiral/fight or flight).
Being the person that I am, I knew the only way to get out of this state was to fully dive in and get to the bottom of it. And when I did, something huge revealed itself.
I’m going to walk you through the process I took with my fear and how I got to the INSANE shit that was really underneath the fear, causing me to freak the f out to a degree that isn't necessary, productive or helpful right now.
I processed using a journaling tool to get to the root of any emotion, fully move through it and release it. Instead of using your rational brain to understand “why” this is happening, this process works by diving head-on into the fear and journaling from the voice of fear in your head.
It begins by listing everything you’re afraid of in increasingly deeper layers.
Here’s what I wrote:
I’m afraid I’m going to run out of money
I’m afraid my business is going to fail
I’m afraid I won’t be able to get another job in the next few months
Okay, so these were the immediate fears. Pretty valid I guess, but this was just what was on the surface.
So then, to get even deeper, I ask myself, what am I afraid of will happen as a result of running out of money, losing my business and not being able to get a job?
I’m afraid I won’t be able to survive
I’m afraid there won’t be anyone to help me
I’m afraid I won’t make it
I’m afraid I’m going to be trapped
I’m afraid I’m going to starve
I’m afraid I’m going to be stuck here in this trapped, broke, panicked state forever
I’m afraid I’m going to die
Danggg, intense right. But this is good, because this is what I'm actually afraid of. And you can't release fear if you don't get to the bottom of what's driving it.
Even though these fears are a bit extreme, you can actually see the logic behind some of them.
I mean, yes if I lost all my money and so did everyone around me and it was actually a survival situation, I technically could end up starving or dying, but is this really likely????? No. Honestly, just no. I can see that easily from my rational brain.
But here’s the thing. To fear, it doesn’t matter if these things are logical or not. It’s how our brain works. And that means pushing it away or trying to talk yourself out of fear, especially survival-related fear isn’t going to help you get rid of it.
What will help you get rid of it then, you ask?
You actually have to let the fear completely express itself and take it seriously, because guess what? Your brain and body is taking it COMPLETELY seriously.
To your brain and body, this threat of dying is completely logical and happening right now, so whether or not you choose to explore it or ignore it, your body will be responding as if it's real.
Taking this tried and true process deeper, I continue letting the fear voice itself until all the fears have come out.
I kept journaling and these few things kept coming up:
I’m afraid I’m going to be stuck here forever
I’m afraid I’m going to starve
I’m afraid I’m going to be trapped
These few fears came up repeatedly. Because this is what was repeating the most, I knew these particular fears were the clue to what was really bothering me.
So let’s dissect them.
First of all, notice how the first and third fear (of being stuck and being trapped) are actually the same thing. Since this fear was coming through in multiple ways, I was definitely gonna pay attention to it.
Then there’s the fear of starving.
Again, understandable. Not having enough food has been a hugeee trigger for me because of the intense restriction my body has gone through in the past. And obviously, when you don’t eat enough, your body interprets this as a threat to survival.
The important thing at this point in the process is to fully accept these fears.
Then, we move even deeper.
There’s one more crucial question I had to ask myself to really unpack this thing at the deepest level.
And this is where the big whopper of a realization came out.
To really get to the bottom of it I had to ask myself, “but why is this so terrible? What is my brain really telling me it means if these things were to happen?”
This question is crucial because it’s usually not fear alone that leaves you with a feeling of perpetual dread, chronic anxiety and stress.
It’s how you understand this fear in regards to what you believe about yourself as a person.
And I realized… I wasn’t just afraid.
I felt guilty.
I was ashamed that I was stupid
I was ashamed it was my fault that my business was going to fail
I felt ashamed that I wasn’t smart enough to make this happen because I didn't plan well enough
I was always going to fail
This was destined to happen, because I just wasn't good enough to be successful
The real fear was…………….
I’m never going to be good enough
WOWWWWW Self. Wow.
Let’s unpack this cause this is EVERYTHING RIGHT HERE.
Underneath all this fear about the coronavirus, was this BELIEF that I was destined to be a failure that was causing me to feel sick to my stomach.
That this was destined to happen. The coronavirus was destined to come ruin my business and prove to me that I was a stupid failure who could never be good enough to be successful in a rewarding career.
Cause what does having my own business really mean? It means not only being successful, but being successful at something that makes me happy. It means living an abundant life where I am both taken care of financially and fulfilled spiritually.
Who else was brought up with voices that taught you,
“You have to suffer to make a living.”
“It’s not about being happy.”
“You can’t have both success and happiness.”
Having internalized this idea that you have to struggle in order to be successful, I had this fear that “what if those people were right? What if I can’t be successful doing my own thing, what if I can’t be successful doing something that’s not mainstream or traditional?” (when to me, traditional meant soul sucking and miserable).
So the fear that was REALLY driving all of this was:
What if deep down… I didn’t deserve to have a life where I could be both happy in my career and make a living?
What if that was thinking I was entitled to too much? What if being miserable were the dues I was required to pay in this life? Essentially meaning that something was wrong with me for not fitting into the system and I was going to have to suffer for that? (AKA resulting in me feeling TRAPPED and STUCK - the core fear I had above).
Doing this journaling exercise, you can see that the part of me that still feared this was alive and well!
I realized, from my very own words that I wrote down on this page, there was a voice in my head that said that I was “destined” to fail.
As long as this huge doubt existed in my mind, it would always INTERPRET life’s events as EVIDENCE for this DEEPLY HELD BELIEF.
Hence the extreme, self-shattering panic being brought up as a result of the coronavirus.
This is crazy the thing too:
This process and this exact revelation is not news to me.
I have sat right here before and journaled out this exact same revelation before, I’m not even joking.
But I never realized how this belief was literally running allllllll of my fears and how it’s connected to everything (including the coronavirus).
Because you see, the gut-wrenching anxiety that came up had nothing to do with the coronavirus, starving to death or my business.
It was about me, perpetually feeling NOT GOOD ENOUGH and walking around this world holding onto this fear that I might be destined to fail and my livelihood destroyed because something’s deeply wrong with me.
This doubt is just waiting for shit to happen so it can freak out and take over, working overtime just waiting for shit to happen that it can interpret as evidence to validate itself.
Whether it’s the coronavirus, someone making a triggering comment, worrying about money, not having enough food, someone not liking my post on instagram, it doesn’t matter.
To me, it’s not just fear that’s coming up. It’s this insane doubt in myself WAITING for an opportunity to point the finger and say “See?? I knew this was going to happen. You don’t have what it takes.”
Can I just say, I know a lot of you out there struggle with this exact, very same thing. And I could not have more compassion for you. Because this is not true whatsoever, it’s no way to live and there is nothing. wrong. with. you.
This is deep-rooted mental conditioning that comes from being a sensitive person + messaging we received in childhood. It is completely unfounded and contains not even a shred of truth.
Doubt’s only purpose is to serve fear. This internalized lack of self-worth (because that’s what this is) will paralyze you from taking action in your life, going for the things you care about, speaking up and expressing yourself. And that is a tragedy.
Because you have so much to offer this world. And there are so many incredibly gifted, smart, powerful, capable, magical and beautiful beings out there not sharing yourselves, not believing in your dreams, doubting your capabilities and never saying what you actually think/want/need because of this exact same fear.
And the world needs you.
Walking through the world with this massive fear of not being good enough, with this deeply internalized shame and guilt for existing is no way to live.
Imagine the ways you’d be able to stop running, stop exhausting yourself trying to fulfill other peoples’ expectations, agendas and standards for your life and only adhered to your own.
Imagine the energy you’d save and the anxiety you’d be released from if you were not constantly afraid that others would not love or accept you unless you pleased them.
Imagine what you’d be capable of and what you would accomplish if you didn’t hesitate to pursue your wildest dreams (cliche but TRUE) and if you could share your insight and thoughts without regard to what others thought about you.
What a life, right?
I just saw ONE way that this crazy belief system is still embedded in my mind and effecting my day-to-day experience in the world. And I know there are infinite more ways and that this is something that will keep coming up for me.
Self-doubt is the blessing and curse of being a highly empathetic, sensitive & emotional person. Just as it’s a burden to carry these fears, it’s a gift that I get to do this deep investigative work into my psyche and free myself from these deeply internalized beliefs.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
If you are struggling with anxiety in light of the coronavirus, I implore you to take the time to get to know your fear and determine where it’s coming from.
If fear has inspired you to go to the store, buy enough food and cancel your plans for the next few weeks, it purpose has been served.
Now, it’s time to stop freaking out and life your life.
We ARE going to make it through this, one way or another. And it’s going to be a lot smoother if you remain in a place of faith over fear.
If you want to learn how to move past fear
DM me if you have questions or want to chat. Sending prayers for all you sensitive beings and all those whose lives are being affected by this virus <3