How to be yourself without fear

The year was 1993 and The Incredible Crash Test Dummies were the hottest selling toy on the market.

I was just 6 years old when these toys went on sale and I was lucky enough to own one (the orange beauty you see in the picture)

Finding Common Ground

A few days after getting the toy, we had some new neighbors move in and it just so happened that their son (8 years old) also loved Crash test dummies. He had the black car! I was so excited as this meant we could play together.

My mum set up a play date. It was the middle of the summer and we played outside all day long, crashing the cars into one another at high speeds, watching pieces of plastic and the test dummies fly into the air – what a rush!

Then we would put the cars back together and do it all over again – oh how simple life was….

The next thing we knew, it was getting dark. My mum shouted “time to come in now Joe!” (Remember the days when you would play outside until your mum called you in?)

I Never Expected This

As we both gathered our toys and got ready to head inside, the neighbour rose to his feet. He picked up my car and told me point blank with an aggressive swipe that this was HIS car and he was keeping it…….

At first I was frozen with shock and fear. This car was my entire world and he had just taken it away from me

I didn’t know what to do – this kid was 2 years older than me and much stronger.

I shouted “No, it’s mine” and tried to grab it back, but this kid just laughed and pushed me to the ground.

This moment was the first time I’d ever felt completely powerless, vulnerable and overcome with fear.

I burst into tears and ran inside to tell my mum.

The Experience Left A Raw Wound

After explaining to my her what had happened, she of course went and got the car back for me… but the feeling in that moment when he took my car with nothing I could do about it….REALLY affected me.

In fact, from that point onwards I was terrified of this kid.

My mum would send me out to play and he would always be around. He would be as nice as pie in front of my mum and then as soon as we were alone he would start to bully me.

Calling me nasty names, stealing toys, physical abuse. You name it, this kid did it.

He didn’t just steal my toys, he stole my self-confidence, my self-worth and my self-esteem from me before it even had a chance to fully develop. (I know now that I allowed him to do this, but at 4 years old you can’t understand what’s going on).

This scenario went on for around 6 months until the neighbour and his family luckily moved.

But for me, the damage was already done.

I Was Changing

This 6 month period completely shaped me as a person and made me extremely nervous of others, cautious of making new freinds.

My subconscious brain very quickly decided that there must be something wrong with ME! Otherwise, why would someone bully me?

I decided the best thing to do would be to bury who I really was and mould myself to fit in with others. If you don’t stand out then you won’t be noticed and if you aren’t noticed then you can’t get hurt, right?

Wrong. Very wrong.

I used this strategy right up until my teenage years. At this point, my hormones were firing on all cylinders and there was a deep anger inside of me that at the time I didn’t understand.

I was so sick of feeling afraid, so tired of being picked on that for the first time in my life I started to fight back….

Limitless RAGE

Playing ice hockey as a teenager gave me an outlet for that anger but it often spilled out into other areas of my life… and eventually onto the streets.

My lowest point came at 24 years old, standing in front of a judge in Basingstoke Magistrates Court… facing a potential prison sentence.

The ‘Bullied’ Had Become The ‘Bully’.

Facing Prison

The judge said “Mr Webb if I EVER see you back in this courtroom again you won’t be walking back out”.

I received 200 hours of deserved community service, cleaning out bird cages in Windsor Swan Sanctuary. This taught me a hard lesson.

It was at this point where I had hit rock bottom. How had I gotten here? I’m so afraid but yet I’m doing all these terrible things.

Looking back now it seems so obvious.

From that day onwards I vowed that I was going to change my life for the better.

I started reading every book I could get my hands on about the mind, the body, business – desperately wanting to change my life and searching for the answers.

The Reason I’m Telling You This Story

Because many people live their lives as someone else because they are terrified of other people not accepting them, liking them, or agreeing with them.

Caring what other people think!

I personally believe that it’s down to some kind of trauma – no matter how big or small, where your brain is trying to protect you from suffering by desiring to be liked by everyone.

Of course, this is an impossible task, it cannot be achieved and never will be, yet the brain convinces us that it’s the safest thing to do.

Today I wanted to share 3 things I learned on my own journey that can help you feel more comfortable in yourself and therefore care less about what others think:

1. Understand You Are Enough:

One of the most important understandings to have is that you can be loved and cared about for who you are. Look around you for proof – your kids, partner, friends – who love and enjoy you for who you are. How you should focus on being each day – because that’s the best Version you can be – is the true you.

2. Build Yourself Up:

People care what others think due to insecurity. Insecurity comes in all different forms, so identify where you feel this way and start building yourself up.

A good place to start is books and podcasts on the areas you want to improve (confidence, self-esteem, anxiety, self-sabotage etc).

Your confidence and feeling of self-worth will increase as you learn more about the topic.

3. Exercise And Nutrition:

Finding exercise was a KEY part of my own self-acceptance.

There are several mental health benefits to regularly exercising and sustaining a healthy diet, including improved sleep, stress relief, and less anxiety and depression.

Of course, it can also help with weight reduction and weight management, leading to an improvement in mood and sense of wellbeing.

Check out the book ‘Brain Changer’ by Felice Jacka for proof of this.

These 3 points have been key to finding myself again after all those years.

It took a lot of searching but I feel the key takeaways are listed above.

I hope they can help you with your own journey.

Have you ever struggled with what others thought of you?

If so how do you deal with it?

Coach Joseph Webb.

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