Fear talks to people. And when they listen, this is what can happen:
Sheila loved to dance but she wouldn’t go out on the dance floor with her fiancé because she thought she’d look clumsy and ridiculous.
Arnie knew he deserved a raise, but he was so nervous about approaching his boss, he never asked for one.
Delia’s fear of bears was so great that she wouldn’t go on a camping trip with her friends. And their campsite wasn’t even in bear territory.
Fear is that nattering voice inside our heads that says, you can’t, you shouldn’t, what if…. Fear keeps us from taking risks that might enrich our life or holds us back from doing some things we need to do. Experience new and exciting vistas?
Accomplish something really great? Fear says, “Not on your life.”
This isn’t to say that fear is all bad. At its best it’s an instinctive, natural ability to help us survive.
Without fear we might attempt to stroll across freeways or scratch behind a lion’s ears.
But given the upper hand, fear can dominate our life and make even the innocuous—taking a walk or answering the phone—a daunting experience.
Ninety-nine percent of what we worry about never happens, according to Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
“There’s a voice inside our heads that’s always heralding doom and disaster even before we get started on something,” she says.
On its own, fear will most likely NOT disappear.
Following are some strategies to help you deal with fears that might be holding you back from something you want or need to do.
- Get information. In an information void, fear clicks in to do what it thinks is its job. But when you find out about what scares you, you replace fear with knowledge.
- One of my clients came to me because she was having panic attacks. When she learned important information about how her body can handle many of the symptoms, she immediately felt she could begin the process of stopping them altogether.
- Learn how to do it. If there’s something you’d like to do, but you’re afraid to try, take lessons. We’re not born knowing how to ride horses or make pottery.
- Birthing can trigger a lot of fear for many women. When they learn the tools of Hypnobirthing to help them work with their bodies, they find their fears fade away.
- Find models. Let someone who’s not afraid model courage for you. Just as fearful behavior breeds the jitters, courageous behavior invites confidence.
- My husband is a rock climber. I was fearful of trying it, but as I watched him and others, as well as took lessons, I became confident I could do it too.
- Talk about your fears. Keeping your fears bottled up inside magnifies them. Taking them out into the light can shrink them. Find a good listener who won’t pooh-pooh your fears or make judgments.
- This is so vital. One of the most important ways I support my clients is by listening to their fears and the many “what-if’s” scenarios. Then we do some EFT-Emotional Freedom Technique, which uses a technique of “telling our truth” to “get out” all the fear thoughts going on in their heads…and diminishes the intensity tremendously.
- Talk to yourself. Self-talk filled with positive messages can change fear energy into positive energy. Eliminate the can’ts, shouldn’ts and ought-tos from your self-talk vocabulary.
- It’s not being crazy to talk to yourself! I do it all the time and highly recommend it to my clients. First we want to acknowledge the fearful thoughts, then say “Stop.” After that, start giving yourself a “pep talk” as you might your best friend!
- Use your imagination. Visualize yourself doing what you are afraid to do; see yourself as graceful, strong and capable.
- Set the scene, like a movie in your mind. See yourself doing or saying that fearful thing. Make it very positive and use sounds and colors to enhance the scene in your mind’s eye. You are creating a blueprint for your subconscious mind to follow.
- Your imagination is very powerful. When we are in fear in our minds, we are using our imaginations as well. Flip it to the positive.
- Focus on the little things. Keep your mind on the details, not the Big Picture. Complete the report word by word, pay the bills one by one, see the group-individual by individual.
- Doing this keeps you present, instead of wandering around in the land of fear!
- Expand your comfort zone. Take a small risk each day. Make one phone call, ask for one thing you want, go to one new place. Little by little your confidence will expand, too.
- This is an empowering exercise. When you reach out a little further than your immediate comfort zone little by little, you are building a foundation of emotional resilience, thus building the courage to deal with the fear.
- Relax and breathe. Sometimes the physical response to fear creates even more fear. Physically relax your body and breathe in and out to release tension.
- My all time favorite thing to do! Focused calm breathing takes your mind away from the fear, worry and/or concern, and works with the body at the same time. A relaxed body and mind function more optimally.
- Ask for help. If your fears are pervasive or severe, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, in which case you should definitely seek help. If your fears are not debilitating, but still get in the way of doing what you need or want to do, asking for help can make all the difference.
- Be proactive for your health and well being so you can move forward and enjoy your life!
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