Pushing through fear

 Fear has been my constant companion for the past few years. Chances are, if you are on the same journey, it’s probably your new not-so-best friend too.

I will confess that fear gets the best of me a lot of times. So much so that it plunged me into a depression in 2011. Yet, my depression taught me so much about myself that I now call it a blessing. (But that’s a story for another day.)

Now, you don’t have to be cowed by fear. You don’t have to. Sure, it can make your life really uncomfortable. The bags under my eyes are proof. However, you cam take steps to overcome your fear bit by tiny bit.

I don’t claim to be a sifu though. But I’d like to share some ideas with you so that it’ll help ease your journey through the migration process better.

Always hang out with the right people
I cannot emphasise how important this is. Some people will discourage you. Some will sow fear and despair in your heart. Some, however, will build you up and encourage you. Choose those who will make you feel that life is full of hope.

Write your fear out
One of the best things that came out of my depression time was learning about cognitive behavioural therapy. The “ABC” method is one such example.

My friend Simone thought me her version of it that I found really helpful. Take out a piece of paper and divide it into three columns: In the first column, write out the thoughts running in your head as you experience the fear. In the second column, write out your reasoning against that fear. In the third column write solutions to the problems and encouraging quotes/spiritual verses.

For example:

Column 1: If I fail and have to leave Australia, my life is over.

Column 2: Why do you say that? If you leave Australia does that mean you’ll die? At least you’ve gotten years of lovely adventures and experiences, and at least you’ve gained exposure overseas. No, you won’t die, and you won’t starve.

Column 3:  Solutions: Have a backup plan. Don’t burn bridges at work. Try to maintain contact with companies back home, and try to look for other career options. Also, don’t leave Australia when you’re penniless. Make sure that you have some money waiting for you back home. Stay with mum and dad when you get back.

Encouraging quote: ” I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” — Michael Jordan

Get the idea? 🙂 It’s okay that you feel fear and anxiety when you start writing out your fears, but you will find it dissipating as you progress.

What we think can make us afraid and depressed. Correcting your thinking goes a long way to helping you dealing with a matter better.

Learn about Cognitive Distortions
You’re probably thinking – Hey, enough with the psycho babble! But hear me out. This is something that took me by surprise last year. I didn’t realise that we could think in a wrong manner. These are called  cognitive distortions, when our thoughts distort reality. However, realising that certain beliefs you hold are not accurate representations of reality can help snap you out of it quick.  Here are 15 Common Cognitive Distortions.

Talk out your fears
Make sure you choose the right confidants – not those who tear you down. Sometimes, talking it out helps ease the stress.

Take care of yourself
I know. When you’re stressed, the last thing you want to do is exercise and eat well. But it’s really important that you do that. Exercise helps reduce the stress too and promote better sleep.

Stop doing things that will make you depressed!
I had a bad habit while I was on this migration journey. I’d look at forums like Poms in Oz and read forum threads about people having a hard time finding work or people who have decided to leave Australia because of one reason or another. I’m not sure what I was trying to achieve doing this — perhaps I was trying to find a nugget of hope in the ocean of despair — but one thing for sure: I felt lousy each time I did this.

Just stop. Stop it. You may or may not fail, but worrying about it now is not going to help.

Instead, read encouraging stuff. Read blogs about people on sabbaticals — I always find them so uplifting. Read happy novels. Watch comedies and do happy things with your friends and family. You’re going to need all these during this stressful period in your life. Why sap your energy with negative, painful stories? You need to conserve your emotional energy, folks.

Encourage people
“Wait, what? I need encouragement! Where do I have strength to do this for others?” But really, lifting people’s spirits is one of the best antidotes to fear. Because you are now focusing outward instead of inward. Sometimes, people are going through worse things than you are, and you will feel so fortunate. Also, it’s really a good  deed 🙂

Well, these are just some of my suggestions. If you have any more, do pitch in below. 🙂

Photo by DiskoFaery.

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One thought on “Pushing through fear

  1. I’ve done that expat forum reading too, and there were so many people moaning about Sweden that it really discouraged me from moving there for quite a few years when I would otherwise have tried harder! I guess the people who love it in a country don’t really hang out on expat forums because they are too settled/content, so what you get is a collection of people who need to vent, haha 🙂

    I think for me the fear went (largely) away when I compared picturing myself in the new country experiencing new things, to picturing myself doing the same thing in the old country, and realised how much more I preferred the first picture!

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