Say No to Fear and Yes to the Brave Person You Are

Guest post: By Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Fear

I used to go to bed with it, wake up with it and live with it. 

Next to my eating disorder, fear was my best friend and closest ally. 

Phone calls, teachers, exams, homework, my brother, peers, the future, the past and most of all, losing control scared me to my deepest core. 

I was in a never-ending spiral of anxiety threatening to suffocate me any minute. 

There was not a morning I didn’t wake up feeling sick, not a day when I didn’t cry on the way to school. 

Over time, my fears got so overwhelming that I stopped leaving my room, dropped out of school and totally lost myself in a bundle of distress. 

Then social media came around and my life changed forever. 

During one of my many sleepless nights in early 2007, I surfed the web and randomly stumbled upon gspn.tv, a podcasting network producing everything from TV reviews to family shows to faith-based discussions. 

I began listening to their seemingly endless number of shows day and night, trying to stay sane, trying to stay alive. 

And almost instantly, miraculous things started to happen: I began to participate in live chats, voiced my opinion, shared my struggles and made friends.

Slowly and very tenderly, I began to trust and see that there is good in people, that people care about each other, can be fun, loving and most of all, anything but terrifying. 

Within weeks, I began to feel alive again. 

6 years later, I can hardly identify with the terrified little girl I used to be. Today, I’m free of paralyzing self-doubts, destructive and belittling fear-based habits and agonizing projections of an all-too bleak future. 

Today, I wake up with a hopeful smile and a grateful heart. 

Today, I’m able to pick up the phone without my heart racing and sweat dripping down my skin. Today, I’m loving conversations with people I just met and welcome new encounters with an open mind. Today, I know that nothing can destroy my self-trust or obliterate my self-worth. 

I’ve learned a lot about facing fears and it all comes down to one fact: fear is always irrational. 

Take talking on the phone: What’s scary about that? It’s just a conversation between two people. Nothing can happen. You can’t get killed. You can’t be harmed. So, what’s there to be so freaked out about? 

It’s the expectations you place upon yourself to perform in the best way possible, to not show weakness, insecurity or lack of knowledge. It’s the fear of that silence that threatens to take more than a few seconds. It’s the fear of not knowing how to say you’re done and have nothing more to talk about. Maybe it’s the fear of not being liked if you mess up, but surely it’s the fear of the irrational. 

So, how do you overcome that fear? 

You prove it wrong over and over again. 

You practice talking on the phone. You practice it with your mom, best friend, partner or child. You go through the steps of dialing, saying hello, chatting and saying goodbye. You prepare a few sentences if need be and you experience it’s half as terrifying as you thought it was going to be. 

And so slowly you begin to trust yourself and others. In time, it’ll get easier, more relaxed, more fun. 

It’s the same with every fear you have. You jump in with both feet, not fearless but brave, and you repeat it until you feel secure. 

That’s how I learned to eat regularly without abusing laxatives or exercising 4 hours to make up for the calories I consumed. That’s how I learned to trust that my body is on my side and that’s how I learned that I can trust and rely on myself. That’s how I learned to talk to people without totally freaking out. 

Life is all about the practice. It’s all about the small steps worth repeating because you know that the outcome is well worth the effort. You trust that the reward of living a life without boundaries, without restraining fears is grand enough to make up for the struggle it takes to get you there. 

Using social media as a crutch, a way to practice conversation, to re-enter the universe of the living opened up the world to me in ways I could’ve never dreamt of. I’ve not only been in recovery from my eating disorder for 2 years now, but I’ve also developed a solid foundation of self-worth that helped me move across an ocean to live my dreams in NYC. 

What’s your crutch you can use to practice and face your fears? Start small and work your way up. Be bold and stop hiding behind irrational fears. The world is waiting for you to break through those barriers of anxiety and own up to the powerful, brave person you truly are. 

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is an anorexia survivor, body image expert, self-love advocate and the author of The Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Body Image. Join her newsletter and receive your free 3-part video series empowering you to madly fall in love with yourself.

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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Cathy Taughinbaugh February 3, 2013, 9:53 pm

    Hi Anne-Sophie,

    It is so amazing that technology can connect us with people that can help us in ways we never expected. That is so interesting that social media was your key to getting healthy and finding yourself, but it makes perfect sense to start small and take things step by step. I am interested and concerned about substance abuse and have connected with so many others with the same interest online. Sharing your story and finding support is the key to recovery. All the best to you.
    Cathy Taughinbaugh recently posted…Back on My Feet: How Running Can Change Your LifeMy Profile

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    • Anne-Sophie February 4, 2013, 1:31 pm

      Hi Cathy, thanks for commenting. It’s true that the online world is a stepping stone for great change. The barrier to entry is so much lower than looking someone in the eye and talking to them face to face, which is often really scary. I’m so happy to hear you were able to connect with people who share your interest online and I’m hoping you continue to do so. Social media can be a powerful weapon in all areas of life and self-improvement.

      Reply
  • Sara February 4, 2013, 10:29 am

    Aweomse read..this article could not come to me a more better time…I am myself suffering a lot because of my anxiety and fears to the point where I dont feel like leaving my home.I can relate so much to the article..and I agree that it takes practice and taking small steps..everyday is an effort for me but I am working towards it and am determined to be brave..I read somewhere..Fears are tissue paper thin and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.
    Thanks for wonderful article.

    Reply
    • Anne-Sophie February 4, 2013, 1:35 pm

      Sara, thank you for being so brave and sharing your struggle here. This is the first step to major changes. It really starts with reaching out and admitting your struggles. Yes, small steps are perfect and they will accumulate soon to create bigger changes and one day, you will look back in awe for far long you have come. I’m cheering for you and I’m here for you if you ever need someone to talk. Big hugs and love.
      Anne-Sophie recently posted…50 Songs that Up Your Self-EsteemMy Profile

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  • Betsy/Zen Mama February 4, 2013, 9:57 pm

    Anne-Sophie,
    I loved your post! Funny that you chose the phone call as an example. My mother was terrified of phone calls so she worked with all of us from a young age to make phone calls. I never knew that she had that fear until later in life. Practice make perfect or almost perfect. It’s all good!

    I, too, have really connected with amazing people through social media. I never would have believed it!

    Thanks, Tess, for having such a great guest post.
    Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…This Inspirational Movie Can Inspire Random Acts Of Kindness!My Profile

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    • Anne-Sophie February 5, 2013, 11:12 am

      Betsy, that is funny, but I have learned that many people struggle with the fear of talking on the phone. I guess it’s still not a natural thing. Anyways, you’re right that with practice you can master anything, I believe. I’m happy I connected with you here through social media. :)
      Anne-Sophie recently posted…50 Songs that Up Your Self-EsteemMy Profile

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  • Caleb Miller February 5, 2013, 7:49 am

    “You practice talking on the phone. You practice it with your mom, best friend, partner or child. You go through the steps of dialing, saying hello, chatting and saying goodbye. You prepare a few sentences if need be and you experience it’s half as terrifying as you thought it was going to be.”

    This part hit me because I’ve experienced a similar time in my life where I felt stressed and scared about everything.

    And then I remember that the fact that I’m a live is a miracle and a gift, and that there is nothing to be stressed or afraid of. There is nothing outside of me that can make me whole or take away my wholeness. That is me by nature. My happiness and peace of mind and joy is mine, because it’s who I am.

    “You prove it wrong over and over again.”

    Exactly! It’s the daily choices to go in the direction that we want. To truly live. To say yes to life. To accept ourselves, the “good and bad,” the things we like and don’t like. To breathe deeply and just commit to moving rather than judging.

    Thanks!
    Caleb Miller recently posted…What Inspired Me About The Beyonce Super Bowl Halftime PerformanceMy Profile

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    • Anne-Sophie February 5, 2013, 11:38 am

      I looove your positivity, Caleb. Yes, you are whole because you are. You are worthy because you are and you are love because you are. It’s as simple as that. I’m so happy to see you’re embracing life in such a positive way. I truly hope you can remember these words even on stressful days or days when life gets to you.
      Anne-Sophie recently posted…50 Songs that Up Your Self-EsteemMy Profile

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  • Galen Pearl February 5, 2013, 9:03 pm

    What a powerful testimonial about overcoming fear. When we share our stories like this, it reassures others that we are not alone and that we, too, can overcome our fears.
    Galen Pearl recently posted…To Question or Not To Question?My Profile

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  • Ben February 6, 2013, 9:23 pm

    Anne, I am glad that you were able to make it through that and come through stronger in the end!

    I noticed myself doing similar things, like isolating myself because of alot of trauma I had. After doing a lot of work on it I still spend alot of time alone, but I enjoy it and alot of it is spent working on something I love and enjoy.

    The difference now is I am able to go out and socialize and do other stuff when I want and enjoy that, i’m no longer doing this out of fear, i’m spending alot of time alone working out of inspiration and focus now!

    -Ben
    Ben recently posted…Make a daily practice of prioritizing your goalsMy Profile

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  • Alex February 10, 2013, 3:48 am

    Hello Anne-Sophie,

    Your experience is a great example for everyone who is struggling with fears right now.

    I think everyone has kind of a “fear-meter” inside. The level of fear always tends to reach the highest mark of the fear-meter. When it happens, a “fear-fever” starts – a person becomes scared of everything. The only way to prevent fear from increasing is to take action against it – face your fear. And as you said above, you take small steps, you practice every day, and eventually the level of fear start decreasing.
    Alex recently posted…Jan 29, Moving On: It Is Okay To Say Good-Bye To FriendsMy Profile

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    • Anne-Sophie February 11, 2013, 10:44 am

      I love that description, Alex. I think most people live on the lower end of their fear-meter though. It feels different but really, the level of reaching outside their comfort zone is minimal.
      Anne-Sophie recently posted…Write Your Way to Body-LoveMy Profile

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