We all have fears and, in my experience, the best way to overcome fear is to take action. All too often it is the fear of what could happen that results in nothing happening. I know this. It didn’t make it any easier.
My biggest fear is an operation. It is not so much the physical pain or fact someone is cutting into my body; it is the fact I might not wake up that scares me. Maybe it is the fact I have no control and am putting my life fully in someone else’s hands. I am not sure; I just have a fear of being under a general anesthetic.
It seems silly how we are paralysed by certain things, even when all of the evidence says otherwise. In my case I had an operation once before about 14 years ago. I had been so worried then that I wouldn’t wake up I had written letters to all of my family. The boys had been tiny, they were grown men now; I still have the letters, just in case I don’t wake up. The main difference this time is I talked about the fear. I was going to have the operation, I knew it had to happen and I knew it would be okay, it still didn’t stop me worrying.
I had to take action if I wanted to live a full and active life. Although I had just made it through a wonderful family skiing holiday, I was not currently able to swim, cycle or kayak – 3 things I loved doing and were all good for my well-being. I had exhausted the list of interventions to fix my shoulder. I tried rest, massage, chiropractor, electric shock treatment, steroid injection. Nothing worked. I was struggling to do many daily tasks, plus it was very painful and interfering with sleep. The only option I had left was an operation. I spoke to people who had had shoulder operations, I spoke to the consultant – indeed I asked for a second opinion. All gave the same answer – if I wanted to live the full active life I was used to, I needed to have the operation.
In the words of Anthony Robbins https://www.tonyrobbins.com/ “Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear” I had to focus on the outcome – the result after the operation.
So just as Antony Robbins says I started to focus away from the fear and concentrate on the outcome I wanted. This is what made me go through with the operation. To help me deal with the fear I worked within my comfort zone, I started planning and organising. I run a number of businesses and projects, much of which I wouldn’t be able to do for a while. The recovery was 12 weeks, with 4-6 weeks unable to drive. This was another fear – not as big – but none the less a fear. Independence is massive to me. I was going to have to rely upon others and trust them to do much of my work while I was away or physically unable to do it. The trust part wasn’t difficult as I work with amazing people; the independence was a challenge. I had to retrain my mind, to think differently.
I spoke about my fear; it was enlightening to learn so many people had a similar fear. Many of them had overcome their fear and I was inspired by them. I spoke to the medical professionals too – I was not the first person they had dealt with afraid of an anesthetic. They showed great empathy and professionalism.
The operation went well and I enjoyed a wonderful night in hospital, being waited on and looked after superbly well. There was something nice about not having to do anything other than rest.
The recovery was long and hard, much longer than expected or planned, so I had to adapt and learn to let somethings go, both on a personal and business level. It taught me patience and also showed me things can continue to an extent without me. Something I often reflect upon now I am recovered. I was unable to drive for a lot longer than I thought would be the case. This meant I organised lifts with many different people, I had some fabulous conversations with people I have not spoken with in depth before. I learnt a lot and now have new shared experiences.
There are different ways of doing things, people who can help and compromises we can make. It sometimes takes a challenging time for us to realise this. One thing is for sure, there is always a positive to be learnt from any situation we need to think differently to find and act on it.
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