From Panic to Power: Conquering Anxiety with Simple, Brave Steps!

There’s a peculiar thing about human nature: we’re all wired for survival, yet our modern lives are relatively safe. So why do we often feel as if we’re on the brink of catastrophe? That gnawing sensation in your gut, the restless whispers of doom—it’s anxiety, an age-old companion, lurking in the shadows of our consciousness.

Let me share a story with you. Imagine a serene valley, a favourite walking path of mine, transformed into the scene of primal fear. One day, while strolling with my children, a snake slithered out and hissed, cutting through our tranquility. Panic ensued. My children screamed, and I was rooted to the spot, shackled by fear.

Fear, you see, is a natural response to a tangible threat. It’s a survival mechanism, hardwired into our DNA. However, the aftermath of that encounter was something darker, more insidious. It was the birth of anxiety—a cycle of worry about potential dangers, a shadowy projection of what might be.

Anxiety is a distorted version of fear. Unlike the immediate and protective response of fear, anxiety gnaws at our peace, projecting a stream of ‘what ifs’ that may never come to pass. It’s not the healthy emotion that fear is, which can be as natural as sadness in loss or joy in triumph. No, anxiety is maladaptive—it’s a destructive force that can trigger a cascade of negative effects.

So, how do we distinguish between fear and anxiety? Consider this: if I now believe that my once-beloved valley path is infested with snakes, I might avoid it altogether. But when I engage my rational mind, I know that the likelihood of encountering another snake is minimal. Yet, anxiety doesn’t heed logic; it festers in the instinctual crevices of our brains.

The key to overcoming this is awareness and courage. We must recognise the dangers but continue to march forward, despite them. It’s not about living in a bubble of naivety, but rather about acknowledging our fears, understanding our limitations, and choosing to face them head-on.

The clinical literature offers a solution for extreme cases of anxiety, like my snake phobia: systematic desensitisation. It’s a method of breaking down overwhelming fears into manageable pieces and gradually confronting them. For me, it meant visiting a pet shop, observing a snake in its most docile state, and even allowing my children to interact with it. Over time, I began to touch the snake, realising that perhaps it was just as afraid of me.

Through this process, I learned that the world hadn’t become less dangerous—I had simply become braver. The snake could still bite, but my understanding of the risk, and my ability to manage my fear, had grown. I discovered that when we voluntarily face a challenge, it activates a different system within us—one of approach, challenge, and creativity, rather than the aggression and defensiveness of involuntary stress.

Anxiety consumes our future resources to guard against perceived threats. Take the fear of rejection, for example. Many of us, especially those in sales, grapple with this fear. Yet avoiding situations where rejection is possible doesn’t diminish the fear; it amplifies it. The only way to conquer anxiety is to dissect it into smaller, more manageable challenges and to build courage incrementally.

There’s a profound cost to living in the grip of anxiety, and it’s far greater than the price of exercising courage and taking calculated risks. As humans, we’re not just built to survive—we’re built to thrive. We’re designed to face the roller coaster of life, to feel the fear, and to laugh through the ride. We grow stronger by taking on optimal challenges.

So, I invite you to reflect: What makes you anxious? Can you break it down into smaller parts and begin to build the courage to face them? And are you willing to take a risk, to voluntarily impose a challenge on yourself, to grow and overcome anxiety? In doing so, we don’t just contend with the world; we conquer it, one brave step at a time.

Click this link to watch the video: https://bit.ly/7in7part1

ActionCOACH Business Coach Liska Muller