Fear is one of our universally shared human experiences. We all deal with it. It’s also one of the most difficult emotions to cope with.
Fear likely originally developed as a survival mechanism to help alert us to a stalking saber-toothed tiger or some such. It’s still useful for getting us think twice about jumping off a cliff or driving like a wild woman.
However, in modern life most of our fear isn’t about physical survival. It’s about things like:
- I don’t have enough money in my checking account.
- What if he leaves me?
- What if she disapproves of me?
Over the past few years, as I’ve been navigating so much uncertainty, I’ve faced all of the above in spades. It’s really been something of a doctoral program in fear management. And I’ve learned some really important things about fear and ways to move beyond it.
First, most of the chronic day to day fear we accept as the normal backdrop is not only toxic to our health but also TOTALLY UNNECESSARY!
In the first many, many weeks of life blowing up my fear was so extreme it was a tangible entity, a beast.
- What was the latest news story saying?
- What is going to happen with my work?
- How could I survive this financially?
- Was the person I loved most in the world going to leave me?
At times it was so intense that even my sweat smelled different, ranker than normal.
And guess what? None of that happened! Yes, it was horrific. Yes, I’m still facing challenges getting through all of it. But my career isn’t destroyed. John and I are still together. Actually our family is healthier than ever. And to this day not one person has been ugly to my face – all the nastiness has been anonymous or behind the protection of a computer screen or media institution.
This has been so mind-blowingly powerful. I have spent so much of my life in fear of some dreaded imagined future outcome and NONE of them ever happened! All the big stuff that hit – the blown knee, my sister’s death, the public character assassination, family members getting into rough spots – I hadn’t even seen those coming!
The truth is, other than real, in the moment survival, like a war zone or, “Oh shit there’s a rattlesnake!” most fear is totally unwarranted and a whole lot of it is driven by our desire for other people’s approval.
Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles but most of them never happened.”
It’s worth considering what fears right now, are clenching your guts, keeping you up at night? And are they really necessary? And what are they stopping you from doing?
And, very importantly, WHAT THE HECK CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?!
The single most effective tool I’ve found for breaking free from chronic fear is learning to practice BEING IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. The simple fact is unless we train ourselves differently, most of us spend the bulk of our lives focused on the past or the future, often in fear. Right now you may be facing a lot of unknowns, worry, angst. But ask yourself this, right now in this very moment are you basically OK? Are you right now, under direct attack? Do you have shelter and food? Are you breathing? If you have time to read this sentence your answer is almost certainly yes!
Practicing becoming aware of the present moment, over and over again, is a powerful tool for taking the reins back from fear and getting clear about which ones are just about some future imagined outcome (those you should just let go of) and which really merit action on your part. I guarantee that learning to do this on a regular basis will change your life for the better.
Here’s a simple exercise.
- Sit down with feet firmly, comfortably on the floor
- Just start noticing things with your five senses. The feel of the chair beneath you. The sounds. What do you see right in front of you above the computer screen? To your left? Right?
- Take a deep breath. Is there a breeze? Is it still? Can you smell anything?
- Touch the skin on the back of your hand. Notice the sensation.
- If thoughts come in just bring your attention back to the things your senses are picking up in this one moment in time.
- Find one thing in this moment and this setting that you feel grateful for.
- Smile a little.
- Rinse and Repeat as often as possible throughout the day even for just a few seconds.
The way to free yourself from unnecessary fear is in the PRESENT MOMENT, the Here and NOW.
To Peace, Fearlessness and Freedom!
P.S. I also highly recommend reading The Power of Now, by Eckert Tolle.
#Empowerment #CylviaHayes #ResiliencyMuscles