Use these 4 steps to HEAL your FEAR!
“ A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
What fears are you facing today?
How are you listening to your emotions?
Fly, Fight of Freeze: which is your default in the face of fear?
I have constantly reframed FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real. Yet, even though I practice self-affirmation, I often find myself in that fight, flight or freeze situation. Because even though I use the word “unreal,” that does not make my fears disappear from my mind.
On the contrary, I am more focused on them. That is when the negativity bias kicks in:
“The negativity bias, also known as the negativity effect, is the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things. In other words, something very positive will generally have less of an impact on a person’s behavior and cognition than something equally emotional but negative.”
Negativity bias. (2022, July 23). In Wikipedia.
Like me, you might have been taught to conquer your fears. I have tried many times. But I have failed even more. There may be a better way to cope with our fears.
I have been looking for a recipe to cook my fear and eat it. I have not found a magic wand to make my fears disappear. I have been exploring new ways to integrate my fears more than trying to make them disappear.
These four steps have worked for me to H.E.A.L my fears:
- Listenning (Emotions).
In the end, our fears are part of our lives and have a role to play when we investigate further the evidence.
1. HABITATION — “Habituation is a form of non-associative learning in which an innate (non-reinforced) response to a stimulus decreases after repeated or prolonged presentations of that stimulus.” Habituation. (2022, September 13). In Wikipedia.
The best way to “conquer” our fears is to let them into our lives. We must get acquainted with them to the best of our abilities.
I often avoid situations where I feel uncomfortable because of my fear of not living up to that event. Instead, I crawl back into my comfort zone and try to live in new situations.
I have learned that I must be habituated to my fears at small doses and gradually increase my time with them.
2. EXPOSURE — “Exposure therapy is a technique in behavior therapy to treat anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy involves exposing the target patient to the anxiety source or its context without the intention to cause any danger (desensitization). Doing so is thought to help them overcome their anxiety or distress.” Exposure therapy. (2022, September 19). In Wikipedia.
Habituation can be deliberately achieved through exposure therapy. But, first, we need to start small and then increase the frequency and the tile we face our fears.
I don’t feel comfortable saying no because, deep down, I am a people pleaser. On the other hand, I often find myself helping others and letting aside my projects. At work, I used to have my calendar open for everyone to book a slot with me. I shifted that “pleaser” habit to say more “no” to protect my time. I am learning to be more comfortable in situations where I feel discomfort.
3. ACTION — “Action kills fears!” is one of the most influential pieces of advice shared that shattered my life. It is true, well, partially true. The truth is that we cannot kill our fears. They are part of us. They serve the purpose of challenging us, reminding us that we are humans and we are going to die.
One thing acting upon our fears does is to put us back in the pilot seat of our life. We act, and we diminish our perception of the things we fear. The more we act, the more we battle our fear. We increase habituation and exposure through daily actions.
By taking action to block my calendar, I am facing my fear of rejection. I am protecting my time, so I can be in the flow and avoid useless and endless meetings due to an open calendar. Of course, I can do that because of my work situation.
I encourage each of us to find the courage to take small daily actions to get used to the enemy from within: our fear of fears.
4. LISTENNING (EMOTIONS) — “Suck it up!” is the one piece of advice counterproductive from all the self-development books I have ever read. I grew up in an environment where I learned to suppress my emotions. That advice of burying my emotions deeper into my unconscious mind resonated with what I was told as a child.
I became an adult in many areas of my life. I can solve the most complex mathematical equations. I can write the most beautiful stories. Yet I am a toddler when it comes to listening to my emotions. The emotional shadow in me is still a baby crying with a pacifier in his mouth. That is the only way he knows how to express himself.
The truth is that we all are told not to listen to our emotions. But, like our fears, our emotions serve a purpose. They are signals from our unconscious mind trying to tell us something to help us.
We can be more equipped with tools to handle our fears if we listen to our emotions and take the appropriate actions.
Those are the four steps that I use to heal my fears. They are just wounds that bounce within my soul. The more I try to run from them, the more I feed them, and the stronger they get. I have concluded that fear is part of my life. I cannot kill my fears. I cannot make them disappear. As long as I breathe, I will always feed my fears. My fears are often the manifestation of those emotions I try to bury.
I am learning to get to know my fears. I am learning to become accustomed to their presence. I am learning to act before my fears, no matter how small. I am learning to be a better listener, starting with my emotions.
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You can read my previous article on These are the 3 life constants I wish I knew in my 20s. (Friendly link)
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