Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
– Dale Carnegie
I’m at a place in my life where I’ve already done a bunch of new and adventurous things, so I don’t often feel the need to get out of my comfort zone these days. I did try both paddle boarding and yoga classes earlier in the year, and both were most definitely out of my comfort zone, and I got myself to try them anyway. However, one area where I am dragging my feet is indoor skydiving. We have the tickets already, as Santa kindly brought them back in December for the whole family. So, what’s holding me back? I think there’s some anticipatory anxiety and fear of the unknown, to name a couple things.
Here are some ways anticipatory anxiety may show up before trying something new:
- Wondering if you’ll be any good.
- Fear of the unknown.
- Hoping it will be worth your time, energy and money.
- Wondering in what ways you may embarrass yourself.
- Trying to figure out the purpose and your reasons for doing this in the first place.
- A desire to appear brave for others (such as your kids), while also feeling scared inside at the same time.
- Wondering how to simultaneously feel the fear and still go through with it.
- Thoughts about how to keep your personal anxiety symptoms in check (these may include pounding heart, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, light headedness, butterflies in your stomach, etc.).
- Struggling to stay present and not get lost in the anxiety cycle.
- A desire to keep intrusive thoughts and negative thinking contained.
Possible ways anxiety might show up during a new activity:
- Feeling panicked and terrified.
- Intrusive thoughts about how you’re doing.
- Wondering why you’re participating in something you are not particularly enjoying.
- Trying to figure out ways to keep from failing.
- Not being comfortable with how different reality is from your original expectations.
- Wondering if you look silly in front of others.
- Ruminating on how you can be successful at this new activity.
- Trying to stay present and grounded, even if you’re not enjoying this moment.
- Fighting off negative thoughts like “this is too hard!”
- Comparing yourself to others and feeling like you’re worse than everyone else.
Feelings and emotions that may show up after trying something new:
- Proud about your accomplishment and following through with something hard.
- Sad it wasn’t as you expected.
- Happy the activity is over.
- Mad that the activity was a struggle for you to get through.
- Scared the next time might be worse… so why even try again?
- Embarrassed about all your mistakes.
- Frustrated you weren’t able to stay calm, cool and collected.
- Excited about trying more new things in life.
- Impressed you felt the fear and did it anyway.
- Focused on where this activity might lead you in the future.
When I try something new, it’s very rarely what I expected it to be like. This can be hard because my expectations and my reality don’t often line up with one another. When I have a certain picture in my head of how I’d like things to be, and I just can’t bring it to fruition, it can be quite frustrating, to say the least!
When I can catch myself in this cycle, I can usually bring myself back to the present moment by focusing on mindfulness and my five senses. I can then take a look at my reality, feel my feeling around it, and sometimes even laugh at myself too. I also tend to learn so much about myself when trying something new, which as hard as it can be during the activity itself, is very often a positive learning experience in the long run.
What’s something new you have wanted to try in your life? What’s holding you back from trying this activity?