Feel the fear and do it anyway (and be authentic while you are at it) – a taste of my own medicine

So what, what will happen, does that really matter?

These are words I say over and over again to both adult and child clients. To those terrified of making a fool of themselves I will ask, “so what, what will happen, does that really matter?” This week I have had to say this repeatedly to myself.

What really matters when everything else is stripped away? Does it really matter if someone you hardly know or even like rolls their eyes at you?

I ask people to think carefully about what really matters to them when everything else is stripped away and to live according to that. Does it really matter if someone you hardly know or even like rolls their eyes at you? Perhaps what matters most is that you have fun with those you love and that might involve conquering a fear.

In setting up Pocket Family Psychologist one of the things that mattered most to me was that we showed up authentically to clients. We could step away from the stereotypical, expert, stuffy psychologist thing. We could find ways to be ourselves whilst making our knowledge, training, and expertise useful and helpful to clients.  We could be human with all the flaws and struggles that go with that. And so this blog post in me showing up as I feel the fear.

This week I have delved into building my first online course. It is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, and I care very much about. I want this course to be good, really good. I want it to be value for money, highly engaging, understandable, helpful and liberating for children and their families. I want it to draw on multiple psychological theories.  I want there to be something in there to share with and help the child’s teacher. I want it to be the first of many online programmes for families.  I absolutely did not want to just knock out a few videos.

I am on track to delivering all these things, it is going to be a good programme!

But setting the standard so high for myself has meant that I have had to ride waves of fear which have left me frozen at times. I have sat paralysed at my computer screen as I have tried to get my head around the multiple computer programmes I need to learn to ensure the course is interactive and engaging for children. I have considered giving up and just leaving it for someone else to do.

But, as I advise my clients will happen, I stuck with it and moved on from that place. I talked it over with people and just put one foot in front of another. I took little decisions and actions. I gave myself permission for things not to be perfect. Today I am nearing the end of completing my first online session and I am proud of it.

The fear is still coming as I worry about when I will find the time to build the rest now that client therapy work is restarting. But I have enough trust in myself to ride those waves of fear – I have been on similar journeys before and made it, I have the determination and creativity to make this happen. I just need to keep telling myself, “what is the worse thing that can happen, so what if it is months later than planned, it does not have to be perfect, so long as it does the things that matter most to me”.

Good luck in whatever you do that creates waves of fear but you go ahead and do it anyway because it matters.

PS the picture is of me paddleboarding at sunrise in my hometown. I nearly drowned as a child and am terrified of putting my head underwater. But I love the sea. My family scuba dive and swim like fish. I feel such fear every time I step on that board but it is so worth it!

PPS I did actually stand up, just saying!

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"Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative"

“Dr Andrea Shortland’s session for MediaCom on a children’s mental health was incredibly informative. During the second period of lockdown and home-schooling; parents and children found themselves again in a period of upheaval and transition. Many parents and carers were extremely worried about their children’s mental health and their own ability to be present and engaged whilst also playing the role of teacher and care giver. Dr Shortland gave attendees an insight into how many parents were feeling; tips on supporting children and helping them cope whilst studying from home and also managing their mental health. She also helped us realise the importance of taking care of ourselves in order to effectively support our children. It was such a useful session that we realise it was also pertinent for not only children’s mental health but also adults! We will be holding another session with Dr Andrea and MediaCom soon.”

Avelon Thompson, MediaCom (following a parenting workshop)