WHAT THE PROJECT/ FEAR IS
I was asked by AXA PPP healthcare to work with them on their Own Your Fears campaign to change our mindset around fear. The idea being that we can harness our fear and use it to help us grow. This campaign sounds right up my street and exactly the kind of thing I want to work with and chat about on my blog.
And so, I have signed up to spend six months working with experts at AXA PPP healthcare to address one of my fears. For these six months I am going to share the process and my journey here on the blog as I work with these experts to work with my fear and I’ll chart exactly what effects it has on my wellbeing.
The fear I am working on is ‘Rejection’.
I chose this fear after spending time with myself sifting through my behaviour and circumstances, figuring out what is really going on in different parts of my life. And the conclusion I reach is this fear – the fear of rejection.
The fear I have of rejection is so deep-seated that it seeps out in different parts of my life. It manifests itself as acts of self-preservation. It occurs sub-consciously, only to be realised much later down the line. It weaves its way into almost every encounter I have with others.
LAST MONTH’S GOALS
Goal #1 – Set time for wellbeing
The first goal for me to work on is to make 9-11am on a Monday morning a time for me to be totally focused on my wellbeing.
Goal #2 – Daily Positive Observations
The second goal is at the end of each day I need to list 3 positive things from day. These positive things can be anything from a compliment received, something I’ve enjoyed, or something that I felt went well.
Goal #3 – What Do I Like About Myself?
The third goal is to write a list of things I like about myself. The list can include my values, aspects of my personality or appearance, or what I enjoy doing.
Goal #4 – Avoidance Diary
The expert also suggested keeping an avoidance diary. In this diary I have to record every time I avoid something. In this diary I will note – what did I avoid, when did I avoid it (date and time), how I felt emotionally and physically at the time, what went through my mind, and any other things I did to cope.
LAST MONTH’S PROGRESS
Goal #1 – Set time for wellbeing
I will be totally honest, on the first Monday after the call I totally forgot. I was halfway through the day and remembered that I was supposed to have had the morning for wellbeing time where I intended to go swimming.
Overall I would say I remembered at least half of the time to have wellbeing time during the past month. What I realised is that our mornings are such habitual times and things such taking care of our wellbeing don’t always come to mind straight away as you go through automatic motions of your day. So I started setting an alarm to remind myself to ‘do some wellbeing stuff’.
As I was struggling to always get out of the house to go swimming (something I really do want to do more often) I decided to also incorporate meditation and reading as wellbeing activities. The idea being that I set aside time every morning purely for wellbeing so I can start the day in a positive way.
Goal #2 – Daily positive observations
I certainly noticed a difference when I started noting positive moments or expressing gratitude from each day. I found myself taking notice of moments in my life that I might previously overlooked. And I started to focus more on the good moments rather than the negative.
In fact, I found it so useful that I started to encourage others to do the same. I found myself asking my husband to say what he felt positive about out loud. I spoke to my sister on the phone and encouraged her to list the things she felt positive about.
Goal #3 – What do I like about myself
I found this goal a bit tricky to deal with at first, and I kind of ignored it for the first few weeks. It feels a bit awkward to say nice things about yourself, and even harder still to think of yourself objectively. We’ve been conditioned in this society to not boast, not be too big for our boots, not be vain, or self-absorbed.
In order to tackle this goal I decided to take a more creative approach and think of it like a work task. Or rather, I made it into a work task.
As I am hoping to relaunch my underused, unloved YouTube channel in the next month or so, I wanted to start with a new introduction video that gives a bit more insight into who I am, and what I stand for. The video idea I have is to write a poem about myself which will be used as voiceover for footage that shows who I am. So I am using the poem to think about things I like about myself and working towards this goal.
Goal #4 – Avoidance Diary
The final task I had last month was to write an avoidance diary to figure out what I am thinking or doing when I avoid doing something. This was a relatively easy enough task to do and the results weren’t surprising. Whenever I was avoiding something, especially when it was something nice for myself, my primary thought was that I should be working or doing chores. There was almost a self-sabotage element to my thought process.
This was particularly prevalent when I was tired. I wouldn’t do anything wellbeing related when I was suffering with tiredness and did whatever I could to try and ‘work’ even though what I was producing was not necessarily effective.
For the coming month I have 4 more goals to work on:
Goal #1 – Continue wellbeing time
I am going to continue to set aside regular time for wellbeing in the mornings. I am going to alternate the activities between swimming, meditation, reading and walking. It’s ideal for me if I can start making a habit of this. The expert recommend at least weekly, but ideally I’d like to be doing this daily so that it forms a habit.
In an ideal world I’d go swimming every morning, but at least if I am meditating, reading or just taking a short walk around the block, I am taking the time away from work or chores to do something nourishing and kind to myself. In theory this should get me started with a positive mindset for the rest of the day.
Goal #2 – Positive daily observations
The second goal is to continue to list positive moments from each day, or at least the things I am grateful for. The expert recommend assigning a specific notebook for this task and keeping at my bedside to help form a daily habit.
I decided that I might like to encourage my husband to take part as well so that it becomes a joint mindfulness task. We could encourage each other to remember to observations, and perhaps sharing our daily positivity will help lift each other up.
Goal #3 – Use a mindfulness app
My third goal is to use a mindfulness app, ideally as one with an 8 week program to help with the task of replacing pre-existing habits or negative thought patterns with. The app should help with finding peace, especially in our busy overly-connected world.
Goal #4 – Socialise
My next goal is to get me back into the habit of socialising, to get me out of the house and encouraging my relationships. This specific goal is to accept invitations as they come way such as a recent invitation for coffee or lunch in London with some fellow bloggers.
Goal # 5 – Worry Diary
The final thing I have been given to work on is a worry diary. My health coach emailed over a guidance sheet on how to get the most out of a worry diary. Essentially you use a notebook or diary to write down your worries in one column – you note the worry, the time it occurred and any bullet points related to the worry.
In a column next to the worries you challenge the worry. You can use a different coloured pen to keep it separate, and you write down practical advice on how to manage the worry. Next you re-challenge the initial worry, with another different colour pen.
The idea is to re-train the brain to challenge worries and replace them with practical outcomes.
This technique can be an immediate solution to heightened anxiety by externalising and relieving intrusive thoughts, as well as a platform to challenge these thoughts at a later time. Therefore, it proves to be an extremely useful for each and every person; particularly individuals with diagnosed anxiety problems and individuals with high anxiety levels and worry.
The physical transfer of the thoughts from your brain to paper helps to externalise these and can be used at all times even at night time when electronic devices may disturb your sleep, causing more worry!
HOW DO I FEEL?
Once again, I felt really good after the chat with the AXA PPP healthcare expert. Being able to vocalise my thought process around the previous month’s tasks helped me evaluate my progress and how my mind was responding to this entire process. I kind of think as I talk so I definitely feel there is a benefit to sharing progress out loud.
The expert was happy with my progress so far, and also impressed with my creativity with tackling some of the goals.
Overall, I’ve started to feel a mindset shift. It’s not huge, but this Own Your Fears process is creating a space in my mind, and lifestyle, to be aware. This awareness is allowing me to be open to trying new mindset techniques, even ones that weren’t included in our goal setting.
For instance, I did a public speaking event in London a few weeks ago. It was my first public speaking event in a long time and the day before I started to get anxiety symptoms. I was quite nervous, and anxious about the event.
However, on the train journey down to London I was listening to a podcast that mentioned a manifestation technique whereby instead of focusing on what it is you want, or what you are going to be doing, you focus on the feeling you have after you’ve achieved it.
This struck a chord with me as I always feel so empowered and fulfilled after doing public speaking or training. So in my mind I focused on that feeling of elation, I brought back those memories of the buzz I felt after previous talks. And by focusing on the after-feeling I lost all of those pre-talk nerves and had no anxiety symptoms in London at all.
As I said, this Own Your Fears process is giving me the space to notice the things that will help with the mindset shift that I need to reach the goals I have set, and i’m feeling pretty good about it so far.
I’ll see you next month for my next check in and progress report! Wish me luck!
Read more about the AXA PPP healthcare Own Your Fears campaign.
This post is a brand partnership with AXA PPP healthcare. As always, word and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Rosalilium.