How to Live with Courage when Living with HIV
Navigating your way through living with HIV is a journey. Cindy Pivacic shares her tips on how to live with courage when living with HIV.
The definition of fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm. Sometimes people experience fear or lack courage because they are tired, and the idea of doing anything more feels all-consuming. Fear is a trait that has allowed us to survive predators and natural disasters. We are born with only two characteristic fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds. The purpose of fear is to promote survival. Throughout human evolution, people who feared the right things lived to pass on their genes. Fear need not be a bad thing!
Mindfulness when living with HIV
I have felt fear more times than I like to remember and have practised a mindful and affirmative mindset to work past these fears. One of my fears was that on hearing of my HIV diagnosis, I would not be around to witness either my son or daughter developing sustainable careers and marriages or be around to see any grandchildren. In the early days of HIV understanding, my life expectancy was a maximum of ten years. I worked around these fears by telling myself constantly that I had strong, intelligent, hardworking children and that they would be successful in all ways. Well, I was right. With the new HIV medication and treatments, I was fortunate to see all of this materialise. The great thing, in hindsight, is that my fears were unfounded as they both have admirable careers, are married, and made me a proud grandmother.
How to live with courage when living with HIV
Cindy shares her tips on how to live with courage when living with HIV:
- Identify your fear: Do not sweep your fear under the carpet. You will give it more power.
- Challenge your fear: Challenging your fear will help you understand the basic reasons why you are fearful.
- Practice affirmative awareness: Listen to your inner voice that discloses your beliefs and thoughts. You may have created negative self-talk. Negative thoughts disrupt your development. Replace them with positive affirmations.
- Create brave habits: Once you conquer your fear for the first time, don’t stop there. Make a list of things that you would do if you were not fearful. Once the list is made, work your way up from the easiest one.
- Practice mindfulness: When you exercise mindfulness, you learn to observe your thoughts and learn not to let them take over your life.
- Find a mentor: Find a mentor and build a relationship with them. Their courage and confidence can add value that will teach you how to be fearless and brave.
- Embrace failure: We often fear trying something new as we are afraid of failure. As soon as we fail, we give up. Do not fear failure, turn it into a learning opportunity. Begin by building your resilience. Resilient people are not too hard on themselves when they are unsuccessful and apply a growth mindset. By practising a growth mindset, you accept that you can learn through your failures, so try again.
- Don’t aim for perfection: To overcome fear, try to approach anything you do with an open mind. Do not burden yourself with high expectations. Aim to develop yourself with little or no pressure.
- Learn how to be courageous and encourage others: In the pursuit of courage, it does not mean to never be afraid. It is a way of taking action regardless of feeling afraid. Whatever your fear, there are a few ways to help you manage your day-to-day anxieties. One of them is to breathe through the panic. Try this breathing technique for stress: https://youtu.be/tEmt1Znux58.
- Reward yourself: By doing this your brain stimulates positive emotions, leading to the self-recognition that your efforts result in a positive reward. With regularity, your brain will start to associate gratitude to completing the assignment and move towards it going forward.
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