How I Deal With Fear
There is a “good fear” and a “bad fear”.
The “good fear” is a mechanism that goes into place when something harmful is about to happen to us to increase our ability to survive the event. In this case certain areas in our brains such as the amygdala and the hypothalamus are activated to control the first physical response to fear. Chemicals such as adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol are released into the blood stream causing certain physical reactions such as:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Tightening of muscles
- Sharpened or redirected senses
- Dilation of the pupils (to let in more light)
- Increased sweating
All of these reactions take place to help us focus and do what we must to survive.
Now the “bad fear” is a consequence of our interpretation of who we are in society and how society sees us. And it is often not real.
I’ve experienced fear and its first cousin anxiety in small and large doses throughout my life.
First the big doses:
When leaving a bad eleven year relationship where I was emotionally and psychologically dominated, I wondered if I would survive. I was then told by my partner I would never be anything without him. I fearfully wondered if that was true.
When I lost a job and my financial security because I was involved with a man who talked me into doing something that became a professional conflict of interest, I went on downwards spiral blaming myself for what I had done to my own life. The blame was so great, it created an overwhelming state of anxiety.
When I knew Chris was dying, I experienced tremendous fear of what the last moment would be like and all the moments after.
These are just some of the huge events that happened in my life that brought tremendous anxiety into my mind and system. But in each circumstance I went through the following steps:
- Slowed my breath down
- Carefully analyzed the situation
- Accessed my courage to accept the situation at hand
- Reminded myself life is a learning experience
- Reminded myself I still had life ahead to experience and change what needed to change
- Thought of realistic steps – even if baby steps – to take to come out of my situation
What about fear of saying or doing what we think because we don’t know how we will be perceived?
1. I won’t approach him or her because they are going to know I like them. And what if they reject me? What happens to my self-esteem?
2. I won’t share my idea because what if others think I’m silly or stupid?
3. I won’t tell others what I really want because if I don’t get it, others may think of me as a looser.
This type of fear is crippling and it’s self-created. It often originates from a place within where we are not sure of who we are and of our own worth. When I have these fears this is what I do:
- Who cares? I ask myself. Don’t make everything in your life so serious. So if you tell a guy you are interested and he rejects you, does that mean you are not worthy? NO. Who knows why he rejected me. Maybe I reminded him of his mother J There is no movement forward without risk. If I want something I have to come out of your shell and ask for it.
- Because something doesn’t work out it doesn’t mean I’m less than. It just means it didn’t work out. I move on. I’ve learned not to make everything a judgment on who I am and what my worth is.
The more I get to know myself the more I learn to rely on my instincts and to respect my own values. As long as I am in harmony within “bad fear” is something I can process and eliminate fairly quickly.
I hope this makes sense to you. And if you are in fear, remember, all of us no matter who we are dealing with our own.