The challenge of feeling your anxiety to broaden your world



At this time of year, our thoughts often turn to looking back at what we’ve achieved and perhaps at looking forward to planning goals. My son is doing rock climbing as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award, and we are both aware that this challenges him physically and mentally as he climbs higher than he ever has. So watching my son at the top of the wall unable to move due to his fear, I was full of pride and admiration for his courageousness; but despite the fear he’s doing it, he’s moving well outside his comfort zone. Every year, I give myself the challenge of doing something new that takes me out of my comfort zone.  And what have I done this year? Normally my challenges are physical, however this has not been the case: I have presented some research at Conference, I have been the sole presenter on a radio show, I have learnt how to use the knobs and buttons in the radio studio, and these things have all created fear and anxiety. Somehow I perceive them different to the physical challenges that I usually set myself, but they’re of no less value.

It has been said that anxiety is like an electric fence, that it keeps your world small because going near the electric fence causes anxiety, so our normal natural reaction causes us to keep away from the fence. But of course this makes our world smaller and the boundary of the electric fence moves inwards. So my pride in my son was that he was touching the electric fence and moving beyond it. And in doing so the boundaries of his electric fence will move outwards creating more opportunities and making his world bigger. It gives him the confidence and courage to take on new challenges.

I do not know what 2017 has in store for me, however, I do know that I too will be challenged. The radio station that I volunteer for is moving around some of its programmes and as a result I have been invited to host my own show and I will be trained more fully in using the desk (knobs and buttons in the radio studio). This will challenge me as I shall be without a co-host, and have sole responsibility for the show which is yet to be decided! I’m sure that there will be other opportunities to touch my own electric fence. What will be yours?