The secret to reclaiming your life from anxiety
Aug 10

The secret to reclaiming your life from anxiety

By Dr Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth , Release your fears

In 2003, my life had shrunk to the size of my one-bedroom flat. I was stuck in a prison of my own making. Paralysed by fear, insecurity and anxiety.

I felt like life was running away from me. As if I was standing behind a giant window, a one-way mirror, watching other people move by. I witnessed their adventures, failures and successes. I saw them laugh, cry, love and grow.

They had happiness and fulfilment. They had fun, enjoyment, freedom. They lived.

They were oblivious of the pathetic, shivering creature observing them from the dark back room. The terrified bundle of misery that envied them, wondered how they did it. How they could be so care-free, light and joyful.

To me, every aspect of life was a threat. I was traumatised by the past, horrified by the present and petrified of an uncertain future. Fear, anxiety and panic determined my every move. And I knew it had to change. I had to reclaim my life.

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Dear guilt-ridden new Mum struggling with the change
Jul 20

Dear guilt-ridden new Mum struggling with the change

By Dr Berni Sewell | Posticles

Can you remember the magical feeling when you looked into your newborn’s innocent eyes for the first time? When you instantly forgot the pain and exertion of childbirth and an all-encompassing wave of motherly love flooded your heart?

When tears of joy streamed down your cheeks as you marvelled at the beautiful, perfect being in your arms. And you knew that your life was complete and you would love this tiny creature beyond your last breath?

Well, I can’t.

I remember 16 hours of labour pain, 2 hours of pushing and the feeling of desperation over yet another unsuccessful attempt to get the job done. I remember an injection needle and scissors appearing between my legs and an episiotomy that still hurt months after the birth.

And I recall my first thoughts when the midwife finally placed the blood-covered bundle on my chest: “What the hell am I supposed to do with this thing now? Can’t somebody else take it, please?”

No instant overwhelming rush of love. No motherly feelings. No happiness. Just exhaustion, anxiety and the ineffable dread of the unprecedented change my life was about to undergo.

But I am still a good Mum. And here’s why…

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[Infographic] How to break the cycle of fear
Jul 07

How to break the cycle of fear [infographic]

By Dr Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth , Release your fears

I suffered from crippling anxiety for over 10 years. I was stuck in a prison of my own making. Watching other people live, laugh, love and grow but too scared to participate.

I was terrified by every aspect of life. ​Horrified that the traumas of my past would catch up with me, petrified by the terrors lurking in the present and dreading an unknown future.

I was a mere shadow of my former self. I felt pathetic, weak and worthless. My quality of life was terrible and sometimes life as it was didn’t feel worth living.

But I managed to work through it. Panic and anxiety are no longer parts of my life. I am free to make my own choices without compromise. I am free.

And today I want to share with you my most beloved exercise. It was the first and fundamental step in my escape from the clutches of fear. If you only did one thing to overcome your anxiety, this is the one I’d recommend!

Simply because it breaks the “cycle of fear”. I’ll explain…

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6 reasons why we accumulate clutter (and how to let go)
Jun 15

6 eye-opening reasons why we accumulate clutter (and how to finally let go)

By Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth

This is our garage. Once upon a time it was a useful room. Venue for enjoyable family snooker matches, organised tools storage and space to overwinter the garden furniture.

Then, about 9 months ago, I decluttered the house. Room by room, I discarded junk we hadn’t used in years and items we had 4 of and only needed one.

But I couldn’t let go of most of our stuff. I tend to get emotionally attached to lifeless objects and some items were treasured souvenirs of happy times. Most of it belonged to my husband and it didn’t feel right to get rid of it. And I didn’t want to waste money by tossing out perfectly good, fit-for-purpose things. It’s fair to say I resisted the idea of parting with our possessions.

So I shifted the problem from one area of the house to another. And now the clutter is mocking me. Every day I enter the garage, it reminds me of my failure to declutter. It condemns me for my weakness and it shames me for the ever increasing chaos, mess and dirt.

I attempted to declutter but the task is so overwhelming, so massive and unmanageable that it is suffocating me. I don’t know where to start, feel anxious at the thought of wading through the mountains of junk and dust.

I know it has to be done. I worry that other people will judge me, I beat myself up for procrastinating. And every time I sit down for a well-deserved rest I feel guilty and embarrassed about the lack of progress. And I think “I should really declutter the garage”.

It weighs on my mind non-stop. And it made me wonder. Why do we accumulate so much clutter? Why is it so hard to let go? And what is the best way to ban useless clutter once and for all?

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Why the Universe is like Sheldon Cooper, and how this fact could ruin your life
Jun 08

The simple reason why you never get what you want

By Dr Berni Sewell | Posticles

When I was at the height of my anxiety, life as a whole was a threat. And it didn’t only seem this way. It was!

Every letter in my post box was a bill, demand note or bad news. Every train I took broke down or was delayed. Every electrical appliance I bought was faulty. Every cold going around would find its way to me.

I felt stressed, terrified and somewhat victimised. Everything I touched was destined to go wrong, turn into a catastrophe or make me unhappy.

And I couldn’t help but ask myself “Why does the Universe hate me?”

Until I started to watch “The Big Bang Theory” and I realised that the Universe doesn’t hate anybody! The problem is merely that the Universe behaves like Sheldon Cooper. I’ll explain…

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I am completely unremarkable, so what?
Jun 01

I am completely unremarkable, so what?

By Dr Berni Sewell | Posticles

I am not especially talented, particularly pretty or extraordinarily clever. I am probably quite average. Nothing about me stands out from the crowd. Which used to bother me. A lot.

So, all my life, I was yearning to be someone special, to achieve something special or be part of something special.

As a teenager, I made a big deal out of a minor skin condition I was born with because it made me stand out from the crowd. I worked my socks off to achieve good grades in school and gain higher qualifications so I would in some way be notable.

And I went out of my way to help others achieve their dreams and goals (e.g. my first boyfriend’s rock band, my husband’s business or charity volunteering), so I would be the supporting act of something amazing.

But it never worked. Here’s why…

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How to start (and finish) overwhelming tasks
May 30

How to start (and finish) overwhelming tasks

By Dr Berni Sewell | Posticles

A few weeks ago I pruned my 3 young fruit trees.

None of them is particularly big yet, but I admit I got carried away. Because the resulting amount of twigs and branches on the ground was astonishing!

I sat in the grass next to this humongous pile and felt like crying. The enormous task of cutting the entire mountain up in small pieces to fit in refuse bags was overwhelming and depressing.

The branches were entangled and intertwined. I couldn’t even see a way to get to all the individual twigs and it would probably take many hours to complete! It seemed hopeless.

So I did what every self-respecting gardener would do. I procrastinated.

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Why failure can be good for us
May 29

Why failure can be good for us

By Dr Berni Sewell | Posticles

I am Austrian. And Austrians ski. Actually, we learn it in school! It’s part of the curriculum! I kid you not!

So there I was, at 13 years old, finding myself on my second school skiing course. I tried my best to control the two planks on my feet. I made efforts not to fall out of ski lifts. I strained my eyes in an attempt to defeat my snow blindness. And I could still feel my legs turning down the slopes when I was lying in my bed at night.

But still, at the end of the week, my teacher took me to one side and said: “Berni, you are hopeless. You are a menace to yourself and others. Please do us all a favour and NEVER ski again.”

I was shocked. Despite all the blood, sweat and tears (literally!), I was a complete and utter skiing disaster. The school skiing dummy. Loser of the year. A failure. How could this have happened?

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What to do when you are bullied by a narcissist
Apr 18

What to do when you are bullied by a narcissist

By Dr Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth , Release your fears

Have you ever dealt with a full-blown narcissist in your life?

They flatter you, court you, are nice and accommodating while it serves their purpose. Once you realise that this isn’t a mutual relationship, you are stuck.

The narcissists invest just enough time, energy and money to keep you amused. They tangle carrots on sticks in front of your nose and persuade you to stay another day.

But all the while you know that they are taking advantage of you, betraying you behind your back and abusing your good will, loyalty and dedication.

Living with a narcissist as your partner, parent or in work is frustrating, exasperating and painful. It undermines your self-worth and confidence. You feel inferior, never good enough for them.

Yet, it is extremely difficult to escape their clutch and free yourself. Because they know exactly how to lure you back in.

And once you sever your relationship for good, once you choose your physical and mental health over them, their wrath can be brutal, disproportionate (sometimes with psychopathic tendencies) and unforgiving.

But why is that?

Why do narcissists act and react the way they do? What is driving them?

And why do we fall in narcissists’ traps? Why is it so difficult to escape?

But, most importantly for you: how can you protect yourself?

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3 panic triggers we mistake for anxiety
Mar 13

To fear or not to fear: the 3 panic triggers we mistake for anxiety

By Dr Berni Sewell | Heal your self-worth , Release your fears

I am not generally scared of the dentist. Which is surprising considering that, throughout my life, I feared almost everything at some point.

But last week, two of my fillings had to be replaced. My dentist insisted on an anaesthetic injection. Which I hate! The entire left side of my face was numb, including my nose and eye!

And then the procedure started. I closed my eyes and tried to relax. Two people were pressing against me from each side. They inserted countless instruments into my mouth and manhandled my teeth. All to the tune of Little Mix on the radio.

When I opened my eyes, the bright surgical light above my face blinded me and I saw colourful sparkles as I shut them again. I felt a slight bout of claustrophobia gripping me and fought it down.

And then out came the drill. It makes all your hairs stand up if you hear it while you’re in the waiting room. And close up, the shrill screeching in combination with the unpleasant pressure against the affected teeth is terrifying.

I could feel my whole body tense up. My finger nails were digging into my thighs. Panic crept up, adrenaline accelerated my heart rate and all I wanted was to get out of there.

I wanted to scream, remove those utensils from my mouth, jump up and escape the awful situation so I could breathe again.

I was about to bounce out of that dentist chair, when I realised that I wasn’t in danger. But I wasn’t overreacting either! My panic resulted from 3 common triggers that we often mistake for fear. Even without a real threat.

And these triggers I want to share today.

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