Edition 15 — Make friends with your fear.

Where are you holding yourself back? Rose Berry, Founder of My Friend Fear, shares her personal story and advice on how to befriend your fears.

The pandemic has shifted our conversations around mental health. However, ‘mental health’ is a broad term and represents something different to everyone. As a result, our experiences with mental health feel unique and personal, even though many of us share similar struggles. In this edition, we want to pull back the curtain on a broad term and look at the nitty-gritty of a common mental health issue — social anxiety. Enter today’s guest contributor, Rose Berry, Social Anxiety Coach, mental health advocate, and Founder of My Friend Fear.

Rose helps people transform their relationship with fear so they have the courage to fully express who they are, and live a life that feels authentic. Through lived experience with social anxiety, as well as depression and generalised anxiety disorder, Rose combines what she's learnt on her own mental health journey with her formal training to become a Certified Health & Life Coach. Through a combination of skills, experience, and expertise, Rose creates powerful and sustainable change in the lives of others. 

In addition to sharing her story and tips in this edition, Rose is also offering Sprout readers a free 60-minute fear breakthrough session 🧠 Register for your free session here!

How often have you found yourself being held back by a fear of what other people think?

Perhaps you said ‘no’ to opportunities you really wanted to say ‘yes!’ to because you didn’t feel confident enough. Or maybe you had to speak in front of your colleagues in a meeting and began squirming in your seat. Or you’ve possibly ended up in a job that felt safer to enter into rather than the one you dreamt about as a child.

For me, it has been all of the above.

Moving school at 16 came with challenges I hadn’t anticipated. As soon as my mum and I pulled up to the gates in her car, I felt more self-conscious than I ever had before and terrified about the life I was about to step into. This was a huge shift from the anticipatory excitement I originally experienced, which actually prompted the move. I’d gone from feeling exhilarated by the thought of being in this huge school where I’d have hundreds of friends, to obsessively worrying about what people would think of me. The result of this was avoidance, loneliness and depression.

Fast forward to University and my fear of public speaking had skyrocketed. I went into school most days feeling on edge, anxiously thinking about when I’d be asked to talk in front of the class. I even skipped seminars that I knew would require that of me. Thousands of pounds went to waste on a degree, along with my quality of life. My future looked bleak and the total opposite of the one I dreamt up as a young girl. My dreams had often revolved around performing in front of others, surrounded by people.

Thankfully, after a life-changing GP appointment in which I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety, my life turned around. I began to view the world through a completely different lens. This new perspective enabled me to transform my relationship with fear.

Here are 4 of the mindset shifts which resulted from that appointment which I wanted to share with you:

  1. I am curable.
    I initially believed I was stuck with this fear forever. After several unsuccessful doctors appointments over 5 years to find out what was wrong, I was left thinking that there might not be anything that could help me. Receiving a diagnosis gave me the direction I needed to start taking action.

  2. I’m not alone.
    My diagnosis confirmed that there were others who had the same struggles as me — after years of feeling like the only one! I began researching ‘fear of public speaking’ and discovered statistics claiming that 75% of Americans experienced it. That piece of knowledge gave me the confidence to start coming out of hiding.

  3. I am human.
    Knowing I wasn’t alone made me feel ‘normal’ and also gave me the courage to talk about what I was experiencing. I knew that others would understand and that they might feel they could express what they were experiencing, too.

  1. I am safe.
    The intensity of the visceral symptoms I was experiencing from being so afraid caused concern that I might have a heart attack. Simultaneously, I feared the visibility of my anxiety would result in humiliation and rejection. Once I realised none of that was true, I was able to start taking braver action.

When my brain began operating from these 4 perspectives, the trajectory of my future changed. Rather than viewing fear as ‘an enemy,’ which I’d witnessed it being called, or as an imposter which invaded my body and turned me into a nervous wreck, I began to see it more as an overprotective friend.

I learnt all about fear and how essential it is to our survival. No one is without it. Without fear, we would be in great danger because it’s the emotion that prepares our body for attack: fight, flight or freeze. Instead, we can learn to calm our nervous response, and where desirable, even channel that fear into excitement. Once you’ve learnt how to do that, you will have the self-belief and motivation to take on whatever scares you.

From there you are quite honestly, unstoppable. ▪️

Rose is offering Sprout readers a free 60-minute fear breakthrough session 🧠 Register for your free session here!

Connect with My Friend Fear on socials and read more about Rose’s story online.

Thanks for reading!

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