Our brains are hardwired to focus on fear as a way to keep us safe. It’s what helps us react quickly in a dangerous situation, like avoiding car accidents or escaping a burning building. But sometimes that intense focus on what we feel is a legitimate danger, is simply holding us hostage to fear itself. This often causes the perceived danger to become greater in our minds than it truly is in reality.
Fear also has a tendency to masquerade as other things like stress, restlessness, or being antsy. Often times we don’t even recognize that the root cause of our negative feelings is fear. And because we don’t acknowledge the fear, it goes unchecked and can grow into even bigger problems before we know it.
Mindfulness Over Fear
One powerful tool is mindfulness. Mindfulness is essentially awareness; it is the process of becoming aware of the present moment without judgement. When fear takes over, we have a tendency to panic and our thoughts get out of control. We immediately think about everything that can go wrong and eventually we begin to believe all these things are actually going wrong.
Being mindful in those moments and connecting with a sense of awareness, can bring us back down to earth, so to speak. It can ground us and give us a more realistic view of what is truly going on. This will enable you to evaluate whether or not there is a legitimate danger present, and act accordingly. It can also quell your fear and insecurities, as you become more aware that a given danger does not exist.
Identify Your Fears
This might seem obvious, but remember that sometimes fear shows up as other feelings. And sometimes there are deeper fears that just the obvious. For example, maybe you have a fear of public speaking. Are you truly afraid of speaking in public? Or are you afraid of being embarrassed? Are you afraid you’ll forget what to say? Be specific about your fears so that you can get to the root of it. This requires some honestly and vulnerability, but it’s a crucial part of overcoming the fear. But with fear such as being scared of the dentist, knowing that there are specialists like Dr. Elizabeth E. Rushin, DDS who can help you through this, being able to identify and overcome your fear will be a thing of the past.
Journal About Your Fears
Once you have identified your fear, write about it. Journaling can help clarify our thoughts and feelings. Through this process, you’ll be able to understand why you have this particular fear. The “why?? is just as important as the “what??. Sometimes simply knowing why we are afraid of something can help us to let go of that fear. Journaling is a great way to express our uncertainties and overwhelming emotions. Getting it all down on the page can bring relief and clarity.
Give Meditation a Try
Meditation is a great tool to use when trying to be more mindful.
Mindfulness meditation gives us the chance to become more present with ourselves just as we are.
As we take time each day to practice, we can check in with ourselves to identify how we feel so that we are aware of our thoughts, fears, and stresses.
The practice of visualization allows you to play out the fear you have in your mind and then turn the situation around. Close your eyes and think about the thing you are afraid of. Imagine the situation and see yourself there. Feel the fear, and then move forward. Visualize yourself overcoming that fear and going beyond it. Imagine yourself succeeding, despite the fear. As you practice visualization, it allows you to see beyond the fear and gives you the confidence you need to overcome it.
Fear can seem daunting and overwhelming, especially ones that we have held onto for years. Utilizing mindfulness can help you face those fears in a gentle, yet effective way. You don’t have to allow fear to control your life or hold you hostage. You have the power and tools you need to overcome any fear. Just take one thing at a time and keep moving forward.
Have you used any of these strategies to overcome your fears? Share your experience with us in the comments!
Feature photo:? Milos Tonchevski / Unsplash