How I Deal With Fear

January 7, 2011 by  
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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.

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Six Steps To Deal With Anxiety

August 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

As we move through the process of change having a relapse into old habits and response system is a natural occurrence.  After all we have spent so much of our lives being a certain way that when we decide to be different the old ways won’t’ go away without a fight.

I’m specifically thinking about trigger points that bring about fear and anxiety.  Let’s imagine we are passed recognizing that those responses are not productive and adequate and are well on our way to not respond with fear when those trigger points are pressed.  But let’s say one day under pressure we crumble and we are back at shaking at the knees and having a hard time handling the situation.

Maybe the first thought that comes to our minds is: “Nothing has changed.  Nothing will.  I’m a prisoner of this response system.”  But somewhere within us we know this thought is not true.  The key then becomes accessing that certainty.  How do we do that?

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The Beauty Of Breathing

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

Many years ago, when I was still a dancer, I took a workshop with a woman from Argentina about using movement as a tool to help us connect with our psyche.

One of the things I most remember about this workshop is how shallow we breathe specially being that breath is literally the fuel we need to create energy to live.

Ancients commonly linked the breath to a life force. The Hebrew Bible refers to God breathing the breath of life into clay to make Adam a living soul (nephesh). It also refers to the breath as returning to God when a mortal dies. The terms “spirit,” “qi,” and “psyche” are related to the concept of breath.  So why aren’t we more aware of breathing?

I think we are often in such a hurry and so disconnect from nature and our physical selves that we don’t even realize that we are oxygen depleted.  Also, it seems to me that whatever we can do without thinking i.e. breathing is one less thing to be worry about.   But we are missing out on a free and simple method to infuse ourselves with energy and calm.

For almost a thousand years, meditation has used breathing to connect with the self.  But we don’t have to be meditating to use the breath’s healing powers of the breath.  Remembering to take long and full breaths a few times a day will also do the trick, especially when we feel stressed.

So make a change and start breathing with awareness.  You will feel more relaxed, gain energy and be connected with our own body.

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