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Action conquers fear

Being trapped is a horrible experience, and takes many forms. Is this you?

Feeling paralysed with anxiety or regret, or facing a challenge such as speaking in public, or being in a relationship you're unhappy in but can't seem to get away from, or being in a cycle of substance dependence and regret and shame... They each feel very different, but they share a sense of paralysis, of helplessness. When you find yourself in such a state, what do you do?

Well I hope you didn't think I was leading up to an easy answer, because I don't have one. If there was an easy answer you'd have found it by now. But I do have a thought to share with you, and it's this immensely powerful one: action conquers fear.

One example: I've a client right now who resents their partner and for various reasons feels they can't escape. Often a kind of learned helplessness sets in, where such a person comes to feel that, as the baddies used to say in bad movies, 'resistance is useless.'

Another example: a client who's smoked for decades and now finds that his intake has increased and he knows he has to stop, but feels as if he can't.

A third example: a client whose work responsibility means they're put on the spot in highly stressful situations, and finds that they are tongue-tied and can't think straight. In theory they know what to do; in practice, they come undone.

So how does 'action conquer fear'? In the first case, a great step is to talk to people who deal with this stuff all day, every day. (White Ribbon has a list of options. 1800RESPECT - 1800 737732 - is a 24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. For men, go to Mensline Australia 1300 789 978. If it's financial go to Financial Counselling Australia 1800 007 007. Daisy is a free app that protects your privacy and provides information about support services in your local area.) People involved with such services have heard of situations very much like yours many times, and have great experience. Above all they are acutely aware of the need for absolute privacy and confidentiality. Set up a password-protected folder on your laptop, and create a password-protected document. Put down the information you find. Learn how to use a browser without leaving evidence of the sites you've visited. Begin to formulate a plan, or at least a plan to get a plan. Start with something that is yours and yours alone, and build on that. Now you have something no-one else can get their dirty rotten hands on. It may not be much, but from little things, big things grow. From little things, big things grow.

In the second case, the lifelong smoker, he's already taking action by finding and calling a Hypnotherapist. I've seen more smokers stop smoking than I can recall, and I have confidence that soon he'll be another. (This isn't based on the fact that he's seeing me, by the way, but on the 47 or is it 83 different ways I assess clients during the first session to check their readiness. He has a clear reason for stopping, for one thing, and lots to live for, for another. Remind me and another day I'll share with you some of the other 45 or is it 81.)

And in the third case, the person paralysed in a stressful situation, there are skills and techniques they've never heard of, things that people who are cool under pressure automatically use and perhaps don't even know they're using, and that's what we're going through right now, introducing them and getting the client to practice them and see what happens. (Well, not right now, because I don't make a habit of writing blogs while I'm with clients. But you know what I mean.)

Is it guaranteed to work? Nope. Try asking your doctor that same question next time she offers you a medication or a treatment. Nothing is guaranteed to work. But doing nothing is guaranteed not to work.

Actually that last bit is not true: these things do sometimes resolve themselves, and it would be misleading to pretend otherwise. In general, though, I'd suggest that doing something is better than doing nothing. It's like exploring a new town. If you follow a road and see where it goes, you'll get somewhere - even if you then discover it's not where you want to get to. Just by moving and trying new things out, you're asserting yourself and beginning to find something that belongs to you. The alternative is to sit down and get a numb bum.

Whatever your situation, if you feel trapped, here's something you can do, an action that will (begin to) conquer fear: give me a call. It's free, and you'll (start to) feel better.

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