How To Stop Letting Fear Run Your Life & My Story

Stop Letting Fear Run Your Life

This life is meant for living. You do not have to live with fear, worry, and doubt. You shouldn’t live each day wishing that things were different. You can be happier, healthier and you can live the life you want. I know this. I haven’t been in your shoes, but I have been in a very bad place.  I am far from perfect, but I overcame my fears, and I have never felt better in my life. I am living my dream life each and every day.

This post is going to surprise some of you and hopefully resonate with most of you.  I am always asked questions like;

“How are you so positive all the time?”

“How do you stay so driven?”

“Do you ever get stressed?”

“Does anything bother you?”

“How are you so balanced for your age?”

Sometimes people even say, “you are annoyingly happy, why?”

Panic & Anxiety

Truthfully, I have always been happy, passionate, and optimistic.  For most of my life, I have been brave, confident, and free of worry. But, what many people don’t know, is that I was also crippled with anxiety for over 4 years. I was controlled by panic disorder, high levels of stress, and I regularly had extreme anxiety attacks. I am sure you have fears about something, or have struggled with being very stressed at some point in your life. We all have, and I want you to know that it is okay.

I was told that I suffered from Agoraphobia, a condition where one becomes incredibly anxious in an environment (typically one where he or she feels they have little control or is in an unfamiliar situation). All I knew is that once I had a panic attack in a particular place or situation, I would constantly fear the onset of another attack in a similar environment. This would give me great anxiety.  It was just an ugly viscous cycle that really made no sense at all. It’s like the fear of having panic (crazy right?).

My panic attacks would start off with a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, nausea, and dizziness and then within 5-10 minutes I was gagging until I vomited. I couldn’t control my extreme gagging, which was brought me the most anxiety because I would fear this happening in a public place or in front of others.

 I had no control over what was happening to my mind and body.  I hated it. The attacks always finished with me throwing up. Then, I would be extremely exhausted and feel completely dissociated from myself.

This began in my late teens and got worse for years, coming and going in waves. Sometimes, it would occur a few times in a week, and sometimes, only once every couple of months. I didn’t tell anyone for a while, mostly because I was so confused about why it was happening.

I was the captain of my college soccer team, and the outgoing and fun person at every social event. I was constantly happy, and full of energy and smiles. I had tons of great relationships, and a loving family. 90 percent of the time, I felt completely perfect.  But that other 10 percent, I spent hating my anxiety. I hated that I couldn’t control the panic that was suffocating me. It was the worst. Really, I was constantly anxious about having an anxiety attack. I began to live in fear…it was no fun I tell ya.

Hitting The Bottom

I placed high expectations on myself and wanted to be everything to everyone. I wanted to have as much control over every situation as I could (absolutely Type A). I was driving myself crazy. I was burning the candle at all ends. I wanted to do more and have more. I rarely had any downtime. I was working out hard, and going out hard. I did everything quickly, and always wanted to do more, and be more. I was constantly on the go.  I wanted to impress others, and show people that I was the most fun, the most athletic, the most ANYTHING. I wanted to be right all the time, have no flaws, and always have the answers. What I really wanted more than anything, was to get rid of the damn attacks. In the meantime, my thoughts were killing me. I had to change something.

I put so much pressure on myself, and felt so afraid and alone. I thought that no one would understand my suffering, and therefore tried to hide it as much as possible. The more I hid from it, the worse it got. I was on and off of medication, which I didn’t enjoy. It got worse and worse, until I was lying on the bathroom floor in my mom’s house, having a full on panic attack, vomiting and crying. I was completely out of control. I was vulnerable, afraid, and almost unable to make it back to college for my senior year. Finally, other people saw what was happening to me (thankfully). I had hit the bottom.

Getting The Hell Outta There

To make a long story a little bit shorter, I began to share my panic and anxiety with others. Thankfully I had/have an amazing support team.  I read books and websites, and found out that over 2 million people annually suffer from panic disorders. I realized the more I shared, the more people I related with, and the better I felt.  The best quote I ever read from a book was “Anxiety is like a big, angry dog chasing you…you keep running, it keeps chasing. When you stop running, and turn and face it…it stops chasing you.” Something like that anyway. That quote forever changed my life.

The point is that every fear in our life, is self-imposed. We create anxiety, panic, fear and stress. We are afraid to change, we run from our issues, and hide from our problems. We think that we are weird, and that no one will understand. We try to cover everything up, and act ‘perfect’ on the outside.  Guess what? Those anxious thoughts will continue to chase you. They will limit you and keep you from living a great, full and amazing life.

I can’t say I have had the worst life,  but I can say with 100 percent of my heart, that I have been to what was my HELL, and I got the HELL outta there. You too can get out of that place, and have the life you always wanted.

How To Break Free

  1. Face it. If you have fears and anxieties and panic about things, then they are real to you. Share them, talk about them, write them down and voice them with all people who care about you. Own your fears. Even go see someone professional. Get the crap off of your chest and heart. Seriously. The sooner you do this, the sooner it’s gone.
  2. Change your habits. Get out of those same patterns that are no good for you. Change of environment, job, scenery, people, and all things that bring you further anxiety and stress. Get them out of your life. All the negative people and situations have to go, there are no excuses to keep surrounding yourself with that bullshit. Even if you don’t know what to change, start somewhere, you need it. Make any change today.
  3. Start facing all of those situations that scare you (no, not like doing stupid, careless things that are going to harm you). Like taking risks and going for it. The only way to know is to try. This is absolutely necessary.
 I was at one point, very fearful of nearly everything. From going to my college classes to a family get together to flying. Now, I purposefully do anything that makes me a little uncomfortable, and there is nothing that I really fear. I haven’t had any attack in over 6 years. I started sharing my story, changing my habits, and doing every thing that once brought me anxiety. One thing at a time.

I am the most relaxed, laid back, stress-free, positive, fun, hopeful, full and balanced me that I have ever been. I sit here in the place I have always wanted to live, with the exact life that I have always wanted, and I do exactly what I want to each and every day. I love my life.  I am not telling you this to boast, I am telling you this because I was once negative,  pessimistic, down and out, highly stressed, and a ball of anxiety.

I know what is important, don’t pretend or even want to be perfect, and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of me. I can’t remember the last time I was mad or felt angst. I express what’s on my heart and I am honest with myself and others.  I don’t need to be right, in control, the best or first. I’ve slowed down. I don’t put a ton of things on my schedule, and I now believe that less is truly more. I remind myself that I don’t need to ‘be’ anything’, just the best me I can be, so that I can give my best to others and make an impact. I continue to work on things, try to be a better me and will always be learning and growing.

I follow the FF Training Philosophies and live the FF Mantras (I take these things very seriously and nothing else that seriously at all). I don’t focus on doing more, I focus on being balanced (read how HERE). I believe these 10 Rules are imperative to reducing stress and anxiety.  I am fully dedicated to helping anyone who will listen. Nothing I ever studied in my undergrad or master’s degree about psychology helped me to be a better coach than my real experience.

“Ra Ra, You Can Do It”

I really don’t like sounding like a cheerleader, but here it goes.

Where there is a will there is a way.

If you are sick of feeling and thinking a certain way, then decide that you will do anything to make it better. Anything.

Remember, you can always go right back to where you were if it doesn’t work out. That has always been the most comforting thought to me. I tell myself that daily when I face something uncomfortable. Just try, if it doesn’t work out, or it is too much or too hard, then you can always go back to doing whatever it is you were doing.

You can live exactly how you want to, but you have to be the one who decides you are ready. Get after your stuff and face that damn dog. Whatever is chasing you, turn and face it, head on.

We are all ‘works in progress’ but you need to be working towards progress. You know? Like taking steps every single day towards being the best you that you can imagine.

Life is short, it is going to end and you never know when. Literally every single day could be, and might be your last. When you become fully comfortable knowing you may die today, then you know you are on the right path.  Until you embrace this, you are not getting it. Imagine going to bed at night knowing that you would not change a single thing. That is the best feeling in the world.

This is part of why I am so passionate about what I do and why I do it. I remember writing in my journal, over 12 years ago that I wanted to be a Fitness and Sport Performance Coach and live in Southern California. I made that goal a reality by chasing my passion, taking chances and staying positive. I now own FletcherFitness.com  and MentalityWOD.com and help others get the most out of themselves.

I am blessed to be exactly where I am today, and I am glad that I have gone through it all. It’s time to stop letting fear run your life.

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5 thoughts on “How To Stop Letting Fear Run Your Life & My Story

  • Thanks Dawn for telling your story, it is truly inspiring. It gives us all hope that passion and desire can overcome our worst fears. I have recently qualified as a Personal Trainer and am about to embark on a really exciting journey. My own extreme anxiety about putting myself out there and what people might think about me had held me back from doing the work I had always wanted to do and I am so happy to be facing my fears head on. Although I have a therapist who helped me make the first steps it is your posts that keep reminding me of what is important on a daily basis. If its been a bad day or I feel a bit lost there is always a post that gives me a boost and gets me back on track. So thank you and please keep up your great work!