Three Fear Busting Techniques
8th June, 2010
Fear. We all experience it and most of us can resonate with moments in our lives where we haven’t been able to take the next step that we want to take in our lives.
The thing about fear – the existential fear rather than the phobia-type fears – is that we get stuck in an expectation loop. You expect to be able to do such-and -such and you’re afraid you won’t be able to.
For instance, you might expect to be able to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow at night. Once you’ve lain there for a bit…still awake, you find yourself becoming more anxious which naturally dials the fight or flight response up a few notches. That means you’re not relaxed, you’re less likely to fall asleep and soon the fear and worry is spiraling out of control. You can input whatever scenario you like into this example, but ultimately what’s happening is the fear of not living up to your self-imposed expectations.
So how can you break the expectation loop?
1. Lower your expectations – This really is not the same as letting yourself down, it’s a key ingredient to achieving your goals. If you’re training for a marathon, you don’t expect to be able to run the full distance your first time in trainers. Break it down to smaller goals. Anyone who’s ever had a fitness programme designed for them at the gym will have experienced this. You want to lose 3 stone? Cool, that’s not going to happen by next week, so what’s the small goal for next week that will be one step on the way to the big goal?
2. Visualise yourself at a reasonable goal – Some might call this “fake it til you make it!”, but it's a very powerful technique. Often, therapists will ask you in the first session if you can visualise what your life will look like once this problem has diminished. Try this out for yourself by engaging all your senses. Try to see, feel and hear what you want your outcome to be. The visualisation helps you to access the thoughts and feelings that come with achieving your goal, once you've imagined it clearly, it becomes much less scary and much more exciting!
3. Replace the fear with patience – This is about getting rid of that negative self-talk we all engage in, where you beat yourself up, say cruel and hurtful things to yourself and generally behave rather horribly to yourself. Now, consider this – if someone else (your mum, boyfriend, best-friend) spoke to you and told you all the awful things you tell yourself…you’d probably hang up the phone on them. So try and use more compassionate language with yourself, try being more gentle, speak to yourself the way you'd expect a good friend to speak to you, not how your worst enemy would.
If you’re afraid you’ll never be able to escape from your fears, remember that never is an unrealistic word. Never doesn’t exist in nature and it rarely exists in human-kind. Feed yourself a few more compassionate lines and remember that overcoming your fears isn’t easy and that you’re doing a great job in trying.
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