Nearly anytime we are facing major change, especially if it isn’t something we asked for or planned for, there is usually fear involved. As we head into a weekend I wanted to share a couple of excerpts from my book that are useful for taking our minds back from fear and reclaiming peace even in swirling circumstances:
Fear is learned through the guidance of our parents and through our own falls and hurts and heartaches. Some of it we’re hard-wired for like the fear of abandonment and isolation. Another layer is piled on from the culture of fear we’re experiencing in our current media and political atmosphere. We’re literally saturated with fear which can compound the dread when something catastrophic happens in our personal lives, even to the point of become incapacitating.
Fear is programmed into us. With discipline we can train ourselves to determine which fears merit action and which are just a waste of time, mind, energy and peace. A thing learned can be unlearned. This particular unlearning is liberating beyond imagination. — from When Life Blows Up: A Guide to Peace, Power and Reinvention
Here are a couple of strategies I outline in the book that have been tremendously helpful to me and to those I work with in releasing unnecessary, unproductive fear:
- Learn the art of “Presencing”, of practicing being in the Present Moment.
The simple fact is that unless we train ourselves differently, most of us spend the bulk of our lives focused on the past or the future, often in fear. If you’re reading this book you’re likely dealing with some difficult, even traumatic situation right now. There are probably 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? In this very moment are you warm? Do you have shelter and food? Are you breathing? If you have time to read this sentence your answer is almost certainly yes!
To become present, look around you right now wherever you are. Notice the sights. Take a deep breath through your nose and notice the scents. Listen to the many sounds and the little silences between them. Feel the chair beneath you, supporting you. Focus on the breath gently moving in and out of your body. Feel the rhythm of your beating heart. Run your right hand gently across the top of your left. Notice. Breathe. Say aloud, “I Am here. I Am here. I Am here.”
Let your body release its tensions – loosen the jaw, drop shoulders. Underneath all the noises and sounds feel the deep stillness of the earth and sea. Breathe. Deeply. Look around and feel this moment in time. Release and relax.
Developing a presencing practice takes exactly that — practice. The more times each and every day you bring your focus back to the present moment, even for just a second or two, the calmer and less stressed you will be. Not only will this help you navigate trauma more easily, it will add all sorts of additional beauty and richness to the good times.
Coming into the present moment gives you the space to clarify the fears that are about imagined future happenings, those that are about things you have no control over and those that might actually merit some action. I highly recommend reading The Power of Now, by Eckert Tolle. ….
- Do a Fear versus Reality exercise.
Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle to make two columns. Recall a time in your recent past when you were really fearful or worried about some potential event or outcome. When you felt frantic over some crisis. Let yourself really feel how the fear was affecting you, your thoughts, your body, your sleep patterns. In the left hand column write down this feared thing and the terrible outcomes you imagined or expected.
Now remember what actually happened and in the right hand column write down what actually came to be. Did the feared event turn out as you imagined? Was it as bad as you feared? Where is that big challenge now? What was the damage done or the loss suffered? Did any positive growth or learning occur? Were there beautiful aspects of it that you didn’t see coming?
Sometimes feared things do come to pass. The loved ones we worried about meet tragedy. Our unwise or misguided decision costs us our home or freedom. The person we want to be with leaves us. This human experience brings hardship and sometimes we can see the hardship coming. However, most of the time we don’t and most of our modern day fear is based on imagination and speculation about possible future events that may or may not shake out a certain way. Mark Twain once noted, “I am an old man and have seen many troubles, but most of them never happened”! Our unmerited fears do nothing except rob us of our power, peace, and wellbeing. We have the power to release them.
Have a lovely, fear-free weekend.
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