When I was experiencing anxiety and panic daily, I truly felt like it was pointless for me to have goals. I often felt like no matter what I did, I always landed right back in the spiral of anxious thoughts and panic attacks.
Buuuut, this is exactly why you need goals, so that you don’t keep landing back at the same spot. You need goals to work towards! Things that will help you to keep pushing forward.
So what’s your ultimate goal? If I had to guess, it’s probably to overcome anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia so that you can live your life peacefully and joyfully, right? That used to be my ultimate goal. And although I knew that’s what I was working towards, I also knew that there were lots of small things that I would have to do that would help me to reach my ultimate goal.
Start small! This was always my mantra.
Make a list of your goals, big and small, and put them in a place you’ll see often. Then, map out the small steps that you are going to take that will help you to reach your goals.
Let me give you a few examples!
Sharing my struggle: I wanted to be able to talk to people about what I was actually experiencing and living every day. I’m not talking about telling people that I struggled with anxiety and panic. I’m talking about sharing the thoughts, fears, and experiences that made my days so tough to live.
Worrying about losing my mind.
Feeling as though I wasn’t even in my body when experiencing panic. Like I might do something scary, embarrassing, or silly, without even knowing that I was doing it.
Fearing that I would have a bad panic attack and wouldn’t be in a “safe” place, especially when experiencing the physical symptoms.
Fearing that people would see me experiencing a panic attack and the symptoms, and wouldn’t know how to help me.
And just wanting to communicate to people that I wasn’t okay. That even though it probably looked like I had it together, I was struggling so badly, and it was so hard.
I knew that if I could start sharing these things, they would have less power over my mind.
Sharing your struggle is a great goal because holding it all in only increases anxiety and panic. The more you share, the less power these things will have over you, AND the more support you’ll gain!
Nowadays, I share it all because sharing my struggle is a tool that helped me to overcome anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.
Riding in cars: I had a REALLY tough time riding in cars. Every time I stepped foot into a car I’d experience a panic attack. I wanted to be able to do things on my own, go on trips, and just ride in cars without feeling as though I was going to die. So I started small. I started by taking short car rides, I’m talking 5-10 minute drives around my neighborhood. Initially, I asked someone to come with me that I trusted and felt comfortable with.
Once I was able to go on short rides with someone, and successfully work through the anxious moments and panic without turning around and going home, I went on short rides by myself. And believe me, I experienced many panic attacks while pushing myself. Sometimes I quickly turned around and went back home, sometimes I pulled over and took a walk, sometimes I called a loved one and just cried and asked for their help in working through it, and sometimes I just sat there and cried. None of these moments were failures. I was pushing myself forward and I was doing a good job.
You are doing a good job!
Now I'm able to ride in cars free of panic attacks!
Traveling on an airplane: I always wanted to travel the world, but just the thought of getting on an airplane caused me anxiety and panic. So I started small. I took a trip to the airport that was 20 minutes from my house and asked a close friend to join me so that I felt supported and could just see what it was all about. I walked around inside, took it all in, and asked my friend that had experience flying many questions. I shared and talked through my thoughts and fears.
A few months later, I took a 45 minute plane ride to NYC. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have chosen to go to NYC for my first trip (for obvious reasons), but I made it! And believe me, I experienced lots of anxiety and panic on the plane as well as on the ground, but this trip taught me a few things…
I was capable of flying on an airplane.
I was capable of working through panic attacks, even on an airplane and in a big city.
I was strong, brave, and in control of my path.
Since this trip, I’ve flown to many cities in the US (one time even solo!), and even to a handful of different countries!
Your brain needs to know what it’s working towards because it needs to know that it’s not stuck. You are not stuck! You are in control. You can and WILL make your goals your reality!
Start by writing down your goals, and then write down what small steps you need to take that will help to get you there.
And you WILL reach your ultimate goal!