Jobbeke will never again be guided by fear: ‘I surrendered my freedom’

“‘I want out.’ That’s all I thought when I was in the elevator to the eighth floor. At the time I was pregnant with my third child and visiting a client. I had been in that elevator a hundred times, but out of nowhere I had a panic attack From my toes, fear rose up and took over my whole body. And from that moment I began to avoid elevators.”

“The fear then expanded. I also developed a fear of flying and of tunnels. In other words: small spaces where I felt trapped. Very inconvenient as I live in Amsterdam, where there are many tunnels. I became a master in thinking of shortcuts The fear of elevators was also difficult. I still often had to be with my client on the eighth floor. At first I thought: I’ll just do it, I’ll take that elevator.

But when I started to panic again, I got out on the fourth floor and walked the rest. When I shared this with the participants in the training I gave, they told me that the elevator often malfunctioned and that people had been trapped in it before. See, I didn’t feel it for nothing, I thought.”

Avoid elevators and airplanes

“After that, I avoided elevators for years. As a psychologist and expert in cooperation, I often visit large companies that employ me. Often these companies are in large high-rise buildings. I told myself that the stairs were better for my health. fear limited me, and I found it embarrassing at times.

I once had a meeting on the twelfth floor, and then I suggested with a heavy feeling that we could sit downstairs, because I really didn’t dare take the elevator. I also once received an invitation to hold a session with the management of a company in England. I definitely didn’t want to make the flight, so I turned down the assignment.”

“Sometimes I couldn’t get out of being honest about my fears. There were people who understood and said that they themselves would rather not take the elevator or drive through a tunnel. And several women indicated that during their pregnancy they suddenly got very scared.of something.

No doubt some people thought my fear was crazy, but I didn’t pay much attention to that. I didn’t brag very much and I didn’t want others to take the stairs of solidarity with me. Because it felt like I was bothering them with my ‘disability”.

With sweaty hands

“I realized that my fear was holding me back and sought help. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, I was exposed to situations that I found frightening. I dutifully performed the tasks. Then I drove through a tunnel with sweaty hands or took the elevator. It provided relief a for a while, but that feeling didn’t last. The fear and panic didn’t go away.”

“Five years ago everything suddenly went like clockwork professionally. My company experienced its first big growth and my book was published. The world was at my feet. So many beautiful things happened and I realized that fear was no longer there me at all paste As an organizational psychologist, I specialize in the development of people, which is a common thread throughout my life.

And I realized that fear inhibits or stops development. The fear lies in the prediction you make to yourself about a possible disaster scenario: that my plane would crash, that the tunnel would fill with water, that the elevator would hang. But when you get hold of those thoughts, there is room for growth again. The moment you let fear control you, you surrender your freedom. I was also limited by that, and I didn’t want that anymore’.

The future cannot be predicted

“Thought patterns are hard to break. There are none quickfixFor me, this was also a year-long process. Fear still rears its ugly head sometimes. If I now go up to the twentieth floor, there will be resistance. But now I’m going through it, I’m not avoiding it anymore, and I’m taking that elevator.

At that moment I feel tension, but then I think very consciously that I cannot predict the future and that it is therefore useless to think of scenarios. I try to be curious about the experience itself, and not about what I fill in myself. It makes a world of difference.”

“Never again will I let myself be ruled by fear and base my choices on it. Later I realized that I have done that more often. For example, after high school I actually wanted to study in Amsterdam, but I didn’t dare. The magnificent and mundane in that city attracted me enormously, but I also found it scary.I was afraid of getting lost, literally and figuratively, so I chose the smaller and more compact Nijmegen.

After my studies I went to Amsterdam and it turned out I loved that city. I still think it’s such a shame that I didn’t experience my student years there, just because I was too scared.’

Education in America

“Now I regularly jump into the deep end, and it brings me fun, adventure, satisfaction and, above all, growth. Some things remain exciting, and each new leap also brings fear.

Soon I will be studying in America, of course I think it’s exciting to fly again, and I assume that the training will be in a tall building, but the biggest part of me is looking forward to it. I now know well which voice I want to listen to.”

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Never again?

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