It’s Halloween and fears have taken center stage. While Halloween spooks and silliness are temporary, real fears and anxieties are anything but fun. If you are anything like me, you have several things in your life that challenge your limits and even thinking about them puts you on edge.
Often, when this uncanny fear strikes, the first reaction is to tense up and try to reason that it’s not there. This creates a huge surge of inner tension as you try to forcibly control the fear, which is impossible. The sensations and discomfort that come with this original fear are now multiplied literally by our fear of the fear and our inability to make it go away. This runaway train of emotion and anxiety is the number one cause of panic attacks.
The solution is both simple and a little scary. Instead of fighting the fear, accept it as a sensation you are experiencing. It’s not comfortable to do so, I agree, but it’s far better than all the anxiety and panic that can come from fighting it.
Try this: Find a time that’s calm when you won’t be interrupted, I honestly do this when I’m laying down to fall asleep. Think for a moment about something that scares you, for me it’s confrontation, and analyze how it makes you feel. Pay attention and list all the different sensations. They can include the hands going cold, the stomach tightening, the chest feeling heavy, and the urge to move. Acknowledge that these sensations are there to keep you safe, thank them, and calmly breathe as they fade. When you feel these same sensations during your day, you will be able to identify them as a fear response and be better equipped to understand them and then let them go.
Storytime: Most people who know me think I’m pretty fearless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve got enough social anxiety to sink boats. As an author, that’s a problem. A big part of the career is being willing to talk to strangers and tell them about something you created without being crazy self-conscious about it. The first dozen (hundred…) times I had to share about my books to strangers at conventions and conferences, I’ll admit I was really freaked out. It’s taken a few years, and lots of trying over and over again, but I’m proud to say I’ve mostly conquered that fear.