Written by Katie Bowman
One minute I was walking to my desk from the coffee machine.
The next I was on the boardroom floor with paramedics telling me to breathe.
Anxiety had been a nemesis of mine for a long time, but I’d never experienced a panic attack of this magnitude.
The following weeks were peppered with a series of sporadic aftershocks.
Driving to work. Walking through a carpark. In a client meeting. Reviewing work with my team.
Even the tiniest amount of pressure would set me off.
My career was thriving. My work was a safe environment. And for the first time in four years there were no bullies in the shadows.
I couldn’t pinpoint the source of this fresh fear and panic.
I sought help and got a mental health plan to start seeing a counsellor.
It was on our third session we struck gold.
I was bullying myself to the point of exhaustion.
My first reaction was pure shock.
Why the feck would someone whose experienced workplace bullying bully themselves?!!!
I learned that when we’re confronted with threatening situations, we develop strategies to protect ourselves.
It’s also a natural reaction for our inner critic to want to step in to ensure we never experience these negative feelings again.
After years of prolonged bullying and feeding off insecurity and FOF (fear of failure), mine had gone rogue trying to protect me.
My internal gears were jammed in flight mode and a feedback loop of worry.
While we did a few more sessions to re-balance my emotional metabolism, he gave me three brilliant circuit breakers to turn down the volume on the worry and inner verbal abuse.
If you’re reading and your inner critic’s getting a little rowdy, then I hope they can help you too!
1. Keep a worry book. For 5-10 minutes a day, commit to writing down all the things that are worrying you. By dedicating time to getting it all out, you’re freeing up the rest of your day to focus on better and more beautiful things.
2. Become more aware of when a negative thought enters your mind. It’s just a passing thought. So acknowledge its presence, then let it go.
3. Pause and do something that brings you pure joy. When was the last time you turned off the socials for more than two hours and did something kind and gentle for yourself?