Fear. When it comes up it can often feel so debilitating. It can eat away at us day after day. So how do you face your fears? By welcoming them in.
I know. It's sounds a little counterintuitive. But hear me out.
There are a few things that can bring up your fears or anxieties. A big event, like a global pandemic, can evoke many responses. Thoughts of "I hope it won't happen to me", worrying about others and what to do and how to help. Feelings like sadness, fear and anger are very common. Sometimes all three might be present either all together, in different combos or one at a time.
This isn't even including all of the little niggling fears and anxieties that we have in our day to day lives. The reality is that at some point we will all know fear.
Which is why there's a necessity to learning how to work with our fears.
Fear as a Means to Survive
So, once upon a time, fear was needed. In order to survive, from for example, a lion chasing you, you needed to be vigilant from any and all threats. The good old fight, flight or freeze response that most of us are familiar with.
Only, for the most part, you no longer need to be worried that a lion is going to chase you down for it's dinner. Maybe. I'm guessing here, I mean, I don't know your life 😉
In our daily life we are no longer living in survival mode. There are fairly few things that are looking to eat you as you walk down the street.
Instead of our threat response system kicking in when we are being threatened it's kicking in during moments where we might not actually be in danger - it just feels like we are.
Fear + Anxiety
Fear and anxiety are closely interconnected. Often, our anxiety can stem from our fears. Either our anticipatory worrying about what might happen or a general sense of unease.
And these fears and anxious thoughts can keep popping up. Over and over again. Sometimes in new and exciting (insert eye roll here) ways.
So what are you supposed to do?
Instead of pushing away the fear, open up to the idea of leaning in and working with the anxiety as it arrives in the moment.
Lean in and work with the anxiety as it arrives in the moment
Our response to fear and anxiety is hard-wired in our bodies. And we all have our go-to coping responses for when we are scared.
Mine was always to freeze first, flee later. Avoidance was another thing that I use to lean on.
Now? I face my fears with the skills I've learned through my mindfulness training and practice.
Mindfulness helps us to be open towards what is here - moment to moment.
When we are open and gentle towards ourselves and to what we feel, we can reduce our response to situations that cause fear and anxiety.
Take time for yourself and sit with your fear when it crops up. Try to let go of self-judgements towards what you are feeling and how you are responding to fear (I know it's hard, especially at the beginning).
Bring some curiosity to your fears? Investigate how it feels in your body. Does your breathing change? Are there any other feelings there alongside your fear? What else might be present in this moment?
My FREE 7 day mindfulness program can help you learn how to sit with and investigate what's here. How to tune into your thoughts, feelings and sensations.
10 minutes, 7 days, $0
In just 7 days of SHORT bite-sized breath work and guided trainings you'll have the start of a mindfulness practice that will have you feeling at ease *no matter how busy your schedule* within the next week.
Next time I will share a meditation that you can do when fear arises.
Until then, be well.