I had a bit of an adventure today – something quite unexpected. It happened during a regular-old, routine trip to the supermarket (mildly uncomfortable for me). Had I known ahead of time what was going to happen, I would have never left my house.

That’s the good thing about life and about dealing with one’s fears: sometimes you don’t get the chance to think – just to react. Our minds tend to put up roadblocks.  We over-think.  We over-analyze.  Then we become scared and chicken out.

Don’t get me wrong, some thinking – some planning – is good.  It is good to plan what to pack for a trip, or what to have for dinner, or to make sure to put on pants before you leave the house.  But if you are the type of person (looking in the mirror here) who packs in April for a summer vacation, then you are overdoing it just a tad.

There is no way to know ahead of the time what you will do in a sudden, stressful situation.  You can only hope and pray that you do the right thing – that is all you can ask for – that and again making sure to wear pants, a top 10 must for sure.

My adventure started at the market, grocery-shopping: nerve-wracking, but “do-able” for me. The trip started with my hand frozen on the doorknob to the front door of my house. A hard “gulp” for confidence and a deep breath for courage, and I was out the door and on my way.

The store is not an easy place for me.  People milling about – crowds and confusion and noise – and all kinds of visual stimulation often cause sensory overload and I spiral into panic mode. This started happening today, so I froze in place and retreated into myself.  I told myself to relax and slow down.  I managed to get my heart rate down.

The remainder of my shopping adventure was routine: I wove my way through crowded aisles, piled my groceries onto the conveyor belt, spoke with the cashier (a stranger) and checked out. These things may seem like nothing to you, but to those who suffer with social anxiety disorder, these thing can send you scurrying for the Pepto Bismol.

Fear 1And then it happened, right out of the blue.  On the way home – innocently waiting at a traffic light – a car accident happened right in front of my eyes. I was the closest one to it, and saw the whole thing.

Seconds passed, during which a sense of shock and disbelief came over me.  Then, something remarkable happened. Cars behind me honked their horns, no doubt annoyed that something so trivial could cut into their busy day. Construction workers rushed to the seen and waved me ahead so that I could proceed home.

But no.  I couldn’t. I saw the accident.  I had to stay. Even though every fiber of my being was telling me to just go home and hide, I knew I had to do the right thing because this was important to people.

Character

I got out of my car and told someone that I had seen everything and I needed to stay. They helped me get my car to a safe spot, and we awaited the police and ambulance to arrive. Sirens began blaring as they drew nearer, but by this time I was so focused on helping the people involved that I completely forgot about my fears.  I stayed there until a police officer told me that I could go.

So, why am I writing about this?  Am I bragging? No – well, maybe just a little. But my REAL point is that: WHEN WE DRAW THE FOCUS AWAY FROM OURSELVES AND ARE MOTIVATED TO HELP OTHERS, WE GROW STRONGER. And that is the way that I dealt with my fears today.

I am glad that I stayed. I am glad that I did not panic and do the wrong thing. I know it’s not a big thing, but for today, I will give myself a little pat on the back.  I only hope I can do the right thing if it ever happens again.

Mirror 1 It all comes down to this: what do you want to see when you look in your mirror?

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About Joe

Freelance designer and writer whose goal is to help others by writing about my experiences with fear and anxiety (agoraphobia), health struggles (cancer) and my wonderfully-happy life as a husband and stay-at-home dad. I want to empower everyone to have a happy life.

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