Being afraid - experiencing real fear - is emotionally draining. Ask anyone who has been caught in the web of fear such as fear of failure, fear of loss, or even fear of success. How can we walk fearlessly?
Fear is one of the emotions (aside from anger and its cousins) that cause a real drain on your body. It puts us in a heightened sense of awareness, resulting in extreme anxiety if allowed to linger. We're born to a large extent without fear, but experience teaches us to be fearful. I can remember someone pushing me in a pool when I was a teenager; that experience kept me in the grip of fear for decades until I decided 'No More' and took swim classes Now, I can get into a pool of water and feel no fear. I'm still cautious but not afraid. If you don't conquer the thing that has you bound, over time, it's not just negative experiences that cause us to fear future events; it's also mental imagery and expectations that create the same debilitating effect.
Dealing with fear - walking fearlessly - can be done by dealing with the physical symptoms first. Yes - it's actually better to calm the physical responses you are feeling and then calm the emotion. You can do this deliberately and easily. Breathe deeply and evenly. This will calm your breathing and heart rate. If you've really been fearful you may also have sweaty palms and a dry throat. Drink some water if it's at hand, otherwise just continue breathing. Sit down if your legs feel unsteady.
Still alive? Good. Take a good look around you and get yourself grounded again. Since the monster under the bed didn't quite get hold of you, let's move on. Now that you have physically dealt with the side effects of your fear you may notice that it has abated somewhat. That's because you maintained your focus elsewhere. And that is what fear is all about; what you focus on.
Remember, emotions need to feed. When you starve them they go away in search of other prey. You will of course, probably still have some fear. But that's okay. A healthy amount of fear can provide the hormonal rush we need sometimes to take action. For example, it is good to fear being in a dark parking lot alone at night. This 'healthy' fear will keep you alert to danger.
Next, you have to make a decision what action will further diminish your fear and take it. Of course, there's no time for brainstorming or mind mapping, just pick something that's quick and easy. Take the time to think through why you are not walking fearlessly in this situation. Self-talk can be a life-saver as you can overcome fear by giving yourself a pep talk.
Often fear is part of a social situation or maybe it's getting on a rollercoaster with our kids and you are feeling queasy inside. If your fears are in this mode, then you need to reframe what you are feeling. That means you should pay more attention to the twitchy nerves, heart racing and increased blood flow that's making you head feel light and a bit dizzy.
So, reframe what these physical symptoms sound like. What other emotion does this to us? That's right: excitement! Reframing is just looking at something differently. Look at your physical conditions as indicative of excitement and your mind will follow suit and start believing it too. It’s a feedback loop that means your brain will signal excitement and your body will respond and so on. You can now choose to accept this feeling as excitement rather than fear and in this decision, you will overcome the fear. And, walk fearlessly to that roller coaster!
Remember, I believe in you! This is something you can accomplish. You can kick fear in the butt! 🙂
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