Fear got a bad rep. It’s looked down upon. Somehow it became a weakness to be afraid. The thing about fear, however, is that it’s hardwired into your physiology. If humans didn’t experience fear, we’d likely be extinct by now. Fighting fear is like fighting the need to breath air or digest food.
Fear, like any other emotion, has its good side and its bad side.
I’m not advocating here to be overcome by fear, or to spend your life in constant fear. That’s no healthier than being in a constant state of ecstacy or grief. What I’m advocating here is to stop fighting fear. And, stop judging yourself for your fears.
You have some fears. Big deal. You’re human.
Fighting your fear just pours energy into it. When you fight fear, it fights back. Like any fighter, it will take a strong stance so it can’t be knocked over. It will bang on your door louder and louder until you can no longer ignore it.
Instead of fighting, denying, repressing or suppressing your fear, just acknowledge it. Say it out loud.
Saying your fear out loud takes the power out of it. It exposes it, then you can move on.
Let the feelings move.
The word emotion indicates motion, right? Think about it. The word emotion is the word motion with an e stuck on the front of it.
Trying to fight, deny, repress, or suppress an emotion causes it to get stuck. It puts the breaks on something that’s supposed to have motion.
When you make a simple acknowledgement of the feeling, and pause long enough with it, you allow it to flow; it can move on.
I know how uncomfortable fear can feel. Most humans want to avoid uncomfortable things. The thing is, having fear that sticks is much more uncomfortable than fear that flows and moves on.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” — Marcus Aurelius
Strip away the labels, simply recognize it as fear, and allow it to pass. Allow it to keep moving.
Shining light on fear saps it of its imaginary power.
First, I call it imaginary power because fear has no actual power. Fear is a feeling your human mind creates out of your thinking. I know how real that imaginary power can feel, however.
Like a playground bully, when it’s exposed for what it is, fear can shrink away and leave you alone. I can testify to this myself.
All my life I was horrible at identifying most of my emotions, including fear. I was so bad at it that instead of feeling fear, I had exclusively physical symptoms. Symptoms like my heart rate skyrocketing, or a sudden wave of nausea. Chronic fears were causing the muscles in my neck and shoulders to scream with pain. You can also throw in some migraine headaches on top of it all. I was a mess, but I thought it was all a physical problem.
It only took 40-plus years, but I eventually realized I had some fear, and I stopped denying it. I released any judgment about it. Recognizing my fear was the sudden remedy to all the pain in my body. The remedy I’d been searching for nearly all my life.
If fear feels overwhelming, try this:
Even though I call fear’s power imaginary, I know and understand how paralyzing it can feel. I’ve been held down by fear’s chains plenty of times.
Practice the exercises below before you feel fearful. The exercises are designed to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. That’s the part of your neurology that has a calming effect. It means your overall level of fear and anxiety will diminish. When you use these techniques during fear, you’ll be more comfortable as it passes.
You don’t have to sign up for a breathwork masterclass. Just try these simple techniques.
Straw Breathing. Breath slowly and deeply through your nose. Exhale through your lips as if you were exhaling through a straw. Pucker your lips like you would to whistle, but don’t actually make a whistling noise as you breathe out. Exhale slowly and evenly. The goal is to have full exhalation.
4–7–8 Breathing. Inhale to a count of 4. Direct your breath down into your belly (that lower part of your belly you wish would be firmer). Hold your breath for a count of 7. Then exhale to a count of 8, and allow your belly to return to a neutral position (don’t contract it to squeeze out the air). Start a new round, and keep count in your head.
Vibrational Breathing. Using your belly, take in a deep and full inhalation of air. Experiment with some vibrational tones as you exhale. Try “oooo” with pursed lips. Switch to “ing” and feel it in your nose. End with “gah” coming from the back of your throat.
If you’ve avoided your fear for a long time, you might need to sit down with it and get to know it on a new level.
Try giving your fear an image. Then have a conversation with it. What does the fear look like? Is it a person? An animal? A shapeless entity? See it in your mind. It might look scary. Mine used to look like a rabid wolf snarling and foaming. It seemed it could rip me to shreds if I got close to it. It was so scary, I put it in a cage so I could get closer and sit near it.
Offer the fear love and light. That fearful part is desperate to be healed. It’s desperate to be heard. It needs the same thing we all need. It needs your love and compassion.
Apologize to the fear for ignoring it, fighting it, and banishing it.
Recognize that the role of the fear was simply to protect you and keep you safe. It had a noble purpose, but it got off track in its methods. Thank if for its loyal service. Thank if for trying to keep you safe.
Let the fear know you no longer need it to fight for your survival. You recognize its role as your protector, but from now on, it’s a consultant and not the boss.
As I went through these steps, the rabid wolf that represented my fear began to look more like a smaller, ratty, emaciated, stray dog. Think of that tear jerking ASPCA ad on television. I let it out of its cage. I held it and poured love and compassion on it. Now I see it more as a healthy and robust German Shepherd. It’s there to protect me if I need it, but it’s happy and healthy now. It’s no longer in a cage.
You’re the only one who can heal your fear. This visualization will help you do that.
Let it flow:
Sometimes fear can still rise up and feel overwhelming. The best thing to do is let it flow.
Picture the fear as an energy or a mist. Give it a color in your mind, so you can better see it.
Plant your feet firmly on the floor or ground and imagine the energy or mist flowing down your body and out the soles of your feet into the floor or ground. The earth will discharge it and make it harmless for you.
Think of the fear as some excess pressure in your system, and it needs to be bled off. You’re releasing it as you let it flow out your feet and into the earth.
Healing is never as it seems.
To the human mind, it sounds counterintuitive to have less fear by simply recognizing it. That’s how healing works. Healing is never as it seems.
It sounds ridiculous to fight, deny, repress, or suppress the feelings of being happy, in awe, curious, in love, or peaceful, so why try to do that to fear?
You’ve been fighting fear your whole life, and if you’ve read this far, I’m willing to bet it hasn’t been working so great for you.
You only have a better life to gain, so go ahead and stop fighting it. You’re not alone. You’re not weak. Every single person has fear. Let it flow, so you can live the life you want.
Visit me at www.christinebradstreet.com
You deserve genuine and lifelong happiness, the type of happiness that can’t be taken away from you no matter what sort of craziness is happening in the world. Read my book, Happy Ever After. We can all use that right now.
all images open source from pixabay.com