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You Are Not Your Disorder: 3 Steps To Overcome Fear During Recovery

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As a life coach, I’ve noticed that fear is the #1 commonality among my clients who experience anxiety and depression.

One of the most crippling inhibitors during the recovery process is fear. Fear of the unknown, more specifically.

So often, we allow our diagnosis to become a part of our identity — who we are, how we live, what we say and how we present ourselves to others.

A diagnosis can bring much relief for some, knowing that they are not at fault for how they feel or behave; rather, it’s their biology and chemistry. This lifts much of the blame we carry around as a result.

However, after the diagnosis has set in, the individual begins to use “I am” statements instead of “I have” statements. Over time, this small difference in association adapts itself into your identity.

I am anxious.

I am bipolar.

I am depressed.

I am schizophrenic.

While all of these statements are probably accurate, they are also harming your potential for a successful recovery when you are already running an uphill battle.

When you identify as your diagnosis, you are claiming it as a part of your totality, akin to a piece in a puzzle. But when you begin the recovery process, you are essentially asking yourself to give up a part of yourself — a part of your identity –– a part of the wholeness that is you.

And that’s scary.

One easy way to think of this is in terms of relationships. Many people are out there searching for their “better half” or someone to complete them. If that relationship does not work out, they then feel as if they have lost a piece of themselves.

This is because they are allowing themselves to shape their identity and wholeness with the success of the relationship and their partner.

If you allow yourself to shape your identity with your diagnosis, you will feel as if you are losing a piece of yourself during the recovery process. As I mentioned at the start of this article, fear is the most crippling part of recovery because you don’t know who you will become or what your life will look like being free from (or healthily managing) your disorder.

The good news is that fear is simply a mindset you were conditioned to believe in.

Your natural state is not one of fear, stress or anxiety. Your natural state is one of total love and trust — the ability to love yourself fully and trust in your abilities.

Here are 3 easy steps you can take to move yourself out of the fear mindset and into a healing mindset:

1. Swap “I am” statements for “I have” statements.

This is one of the most simple behavioral changes that makes a huge impact on your self-worth. Try saying, “I have anxiety” or “I have depression” instead. This kind of statement does not diminish the severity of your diagnosis, nor does it invalidate your feelings. It does help you look at your situation objectively and rationally. When you tell yourself you are your disorder, you are not leaving much room for hope. When you tell yourself you are someone who is impacted by a disorder, you are empowering yourself and opening up to the opportunity for recovery and management.

2. Kill fear with gratitude.

The only two emotions we are able to operate from at any given moment are either fear or love. Of course, they both break down into sub-categories, such as sadness, anger, happiness and excitement. But ultimately, any emotion can be directly linked to either fear or love. In order to put yourself in a healing mindset, you must operate out of love. The best way to kill fear and move into love is by way of gratitude and appreciation. Start a gratitude practice by writing down 5-10 things you are grateful for every night before bed. Get in the habit of searching for things to appreciate instead of things to validate your fears.

3. Take up a daily meditation practice.

Never meditated before? Have no fear (no pun intended)! Meditation is a very simple practice that helps you transition from a fear mindset to a healing mindset by aligning yourself with clarity and inner peace. One of the first things I implemented into my coaching program, The Breakthrough Method (TBM), is meditation because it helps clear your blocks and align yourself with your natural state of love and trust. If you are a beginner, start yourself out with guided meditation music instead of silence. This teaches you to focus and not get distracted by thoughts or daily stressors. Meditating just 10-15 minutes per day is all that it takes. Try downloading a free meditation app, looking up “guided meditation” on YouTube or check out the free guided meditation I created for my clients, available via the link on my Instagram account (in author bio).

These three steps are surefire ways to improve your overall quality of life, which in turn, improve your potential for a successful recovery and management of your disorder.

How do I know that these things work? Because I was once diagnosed with anxiety disorder, myself. I spent what felt like eons in a permanent state of anxiety and stress, which I came to learn was just an extension of the fear mindset.

Once I was able to wrap my mind around the possibility that I would not have to live with crippling anxiety for the rest of my life, I was able to make the necessary mindset shifts to make that happen.

Do I still experience anxiety from time to time? Yes, but those instances are rare and significantly less crippling. I do not identify anxiety as a part of myself, rather I view it as a part of my life experience. I am grateful for what I have gone through because it has led me to the most amazing life I could never have predicted and it’s allowed me to be able to share my experiences, education and expertise with clients and those who feel lost and in fear of the future.

If you were diagnosed with a mental health disorder, know that you are not your disorder and there is a path to successful recovery and management.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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About the Author: Robyn Olsen is a life coach who works and resides in Los Angeles, CA. She helps her clients transform a breakdown into a breakthrough using her signature 1×1 coaching program, The Breakthrough Method (TBM), in which she empowers women to overcome anxiety and find inner peace & alignment without feeling stressed or overwhelmed. You can find & message her on Instagram (@missrobynolsen) or on her website www.robynolsen.com.

Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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