Eight Ways to Harness Your Fear

Nestling between autumn and winter, plenty and poverty, life and death itself, Halloween is widely celebrated in many corners of the globe. Formerly known as Samhain, the ancient Celtic festival heralded the start of winter and the beginning of hardship and was marked by the lighting of bonfires to chase away the spirits of the dead on a night when the boundaries between this life and the afterlife were blurred. Nowadays Halloween is an enjoyable occasion where we relish being frightened by the appearance of ghouls and ghosts in a relatively safe environment and, in fact, we are much more likely to be afraid of our real life situations than any witch or warlock. So let’s explore what makes us afraid and how we can manage it.

What is Fear?

Fear is a chain reaction in the brain in response to a stressful stimulus – real or imagined. It prompts the fight or flight response of a racing heart and energised muscles and, in a genuine, life-threatening situation would enable us to remove ourselves quickly from danger. Our brains are programmed to react first and assess later so the response can be triggered unnecessarily. For example, perhaps you are in a quiet situation at home and you will hear a loud bang. Your brain will begin the chain reaction and you will feel the adrenaline coursing through you even if it was only a door slamming in the wind. In today’s fast paced society there are many opportunities for the brain to overreact and the constant flood of stress hormones into our systems are not good for our health.  Our fear is also triggered because we are over thinking.  When we project ourselves into the future and imagine the worst. We constantly feel that something bad is about to happen which can paralyse our ability to achieve and undermines our confidence. We feel it is safer to stay put than to challenge our fear and move forward. But humans are pre-programmed to constantly change and evolve and being afraid to progress is soul destroying. So how can we break through the fear barrier and realise our full potential. Here are eight ways.
  1. Recognise Your Triggers.
    Each of us will have our own individual sticking points and before we can tackle them, we need to ascertain what they are. Spend a few moments with paper and pen and write down what it is that frightens you. For some it is their finances and not having enough to make it to the end of the months.  Others may be recovering from illness and scared that it will happen again. Get it all down on paper.
  2. Address Your Worst Case Scenario.
    Whilst you still have paper and pen in your hand, think about the very worst thing that could happen and then write down how you would deal with it if this did arise. Quite often you can find a solution to your worst fears and it really isn’t as bad as you imagined.
  3. Visualisation.
    Spend a few moments quietening your mind taking a few deep cleansing breaths. When you are ready, play out your fear on a a big screen in front of you. Put in as much detail as you can using all five senses to make the pain feel really vivid. Then in your imagination stand up and walk towards the screen with your hand, swipe the screen to the left and take your position again sitting down. Replay the scene again but this time with the positive outcome that you desire.  Again make this as vivid as you can and enjoy using your five senses. Feeling positive emotions of excitement, anticipation and joy having conquered your fear.
  4.  Work through the emotional scale.
    In my opinion, when feeling paralysing fear, it is difficult to jump from that to full blown bliss and happiness so those well meaning people who simply tell you to get happy are not understanding how difficult and counter-productive that might be for you. But you can take small steps towards happiness by taking back your power and moving yourself up the emotional scale slowly. So for example, if you are feeling fear one day,make it your goal to focus your emotions and just feel frustration. Whilst we would all agree that this is not very positive, it is certainly better than paralysing fear.  On the next day, aim simply for slight annoyance but the following day, you can switch to acceptance before moving into positive emotions.
  5. Take a Small Step.
    Break up what it is that scares you and find one small thing that you can do to move towards your goal. Maybe you are afraid of public speaking and have to give a presentation to some senior managers at work. The small step could be to write your speech or to practice it in front of a good friend building up the size of the group gradually.
  6. Appreciation. OK. Yes, this is an old chestnut but it really does help. Look at where you are already and really feel gratitude for it in your heart. Rather than focusing forward, look back at the last year at all your achievements and how far you have come already. Look at all the fears you have already overcome and feel proud of what you have gained.
  7. Work out Your Net Gain.
    Look at what you will gain by facing your fear. Write down a list of all the benefits of what you are about to achieve against what you will lose out on if you stay where you are. Think about how you feel at the end of your life if you don’t strive for what you are capable of and then go for it.
  8. Get Physical.
    I know some of us really don’t like physically exertion but it really can help to focus the mind and power through the pain barrier. So get those trainers on and go for a run, take a walk along the seafront or in nature, or dance when there’s no one watching! Whilst you’re moving, see your fear as a big cloud of dust in front of you; determine to move through the cloud and imagine coming out the other side having accomplished your dreams.

Nobody said that life was going to be easy but the pay-off is huge. Life really does begin at the edge of your comfort zone and you will look back with a massive sense of achievement. So no more excuses, whatever it is that scares you, face up to your demons and embrace your life. This is really what it is all about.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.