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Anxiety is not real! How two turtles cured me from being anxious

Uncategorized Mar 22, 2018

Do you ever struggle with fear and anxiety?
This insight I had years ago will help you to catch yourself when you are anxious.

Your mind is your most powerful tool to change your life.
What you think influences how you feel, what you do, what you don’t do.
If you change the way you think, you change you. And you change your life.

Let me tell you a story, that illustrates the power of thoughts and how ‘what you believe to be true’, completely changes your reality.

I’ll take you 11 years back in time, to the year 2007.

This job was a dream come true.
I had just finished Dance Academy and I’d always been traveling a lot. I loved Central America, and here it was, a job to teach Dance in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. And I was selected. Couldn’t be happier.
I upgraded my Spanish by listening to children books and dancing salsa to prepare my upcoming travel.

And then… I got assaulted.
The Dutch Company that had hired me told me I need to do a prep training. For my safety. So I went two days into a hotel, somewhere in the Dutch forest for a ’Safety Training.’ Didn’t know what it was really about, but hey, if it was needed for the job, I’d do it.

Oh, my. All my ideas about eating mango’s for breakfast and making dance performances with cute El Salvadorean children went through the window.

In the course I learned what to do if you

  • catch fire (!!) – DO NOT jump into the river because there might be crocodiles!
  • how to make a bandage of a piece of wood and a sweater if you might lose a leg. OH MY I just needed to breathe through this.

And then… we did a drill with actors. In groups of 6, we got send into the forest, and we had to make it to the endpoint. BUT – we got assaulted by armed men on the way.

I knew that they were actors, but getting a (fake) gun to my head was just a little too much for my sensitive soul.

I remember asking for a Time Out (how nice to be able to do that when some idiot is pointing a gun at you – it should be possible in real life). And I started to re-consider my job.

Forwarding 6 weeks from that.

Ready for any danger to come my way…
Despite the training in the Dutch forest, I had made my way to El Salvador. Completely prepared for anything to happen, but still excited for my new job in a new country. The first evening I slept in the little house in the garden of the Theatre Company where I would work with for the coming year. I was welcomed by the owners, we had a rice-and bean-and chicken dinner, and I went to bed.

It started raining, and soon I dozed off …

Then it happened. I heard sounds of ‘footsteps – krr rrr – just in front of my door. My breath stopped. Who was that? Oh, my. I had nowhere to go. To make things even worse, I heard gunshots – not nearby but close enough to make my whole body freeze.

This was it.

Everything I had learned in the training in the Safety Training in the Dutch forest was already happening. I was ready to surrender.. and die.
I had no idea what to do. The footsteps came closer, and someone was trying to get into the door.

Although good old Anxiety got the best of me, I got myself together and out of bed.

In a daze, I went to the door, and opened it – ready to ask for mercy… but instead, I stood eye in eye with …
two turtles that wanted to get into my house, because it was raining.

When I looked up, the ‘gunshots’ appeared to be fireworks, because somebody was celebrating a wedding nearby.

My body started to breathe again.

I never forget how idiotic I felt.

How cute the turtles were.

And how silly I felt being so afraid in this cute little garden house.

What you think creates your reality.
THINKING about something creates chemical reactions in your body that give you physical sensations, such as a raised heartbeat, not being able to take action, sweating, etcetera.

In the story above, my thoughts created anxiety and stress. Which, very often is the case.

We have around 70.000 thoughts a day, and most of them are involuntary.
With an overactive mind, it is very hard to feel safe, confident and to think clearly.

Here is how to get out of your head, when your thoughts and anxiety get the best of you:

1. Breathe
Breathe all the way deep into your lungs. Put your hands on your lower ribs and make sure that you allow your ribs and belly to move when you breathe.

2. Think of your feet
Think of your feet, or massage your feet. When you are overthinking, your energy is going to your head. By bringing your awareness to your feet, you’ll send the energy there, which will calm your thoughts down.

3. Use your cartoon voice-over-talents
Make fun of yourself. Give your anxious or insecure thoughts a funny voice and say them out loud as if you were a frog or an alien “Oh my, this is it – we are all going to die, or.. everybody thinks I look horrible, they are going to laugh at me, I will never be welcome here again, Of course, I will not get chosen, Am I the only one who doesn’t understand this?

Anxiety happens to all of us. Either small or big, Fear wheres many costumes.

Anxiety can come up for you as the voices in your head that keep you from starting your own company, or to take that year off to go travel.

Want to have more tools to ditch anxiety?