Everybody is afraid of something. Common fears include public speaking, flying, heights, bugs & snakes, strangers, success, blood/needles, and darkness. Believe it or not 8.9% of Americans are afraid of zombies and 7.6 % are afraid of clowns! And what’s the biggest predictor of fear? Watching television, especially talk shows.
Fear’s hard-wired into our brains to protect us from danger. We literally have an interconnected web of brain regions (called the default mode network, DMN for short) that scans the past for problems and anticipates threats in the future.
Here’s the thing about fear, unless you’re in immediate danger (i.e. your being chased by a saber toothed tiger or someone is holding a gun to your head), fear is just a thought that triggers an uncomfortable emotion which impacts your behavior. Most fear is all in our head —a figment of our imagination. That’s good news because while you can’t always change your situation you can overcome your fears by changing your thoughts.
Here are 6 steps to overcome fear:
1. Name it You Tame it
Naming the emotion will bring fear into the conscious, thinking part of your brain so you can deal with it rationally.
2. May I Be Safe
This is one of my favorite practices that I use as Mindful Self-compassion Teacher. Set an intention to be safe and remind yourself you are safe. Remember the acronym for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.
3. Discover the Trigger
When you feel afraid or stressed determine what thoughts triggered your fearful emotion.
Thoughts are just things. Instead of ruminating (literally chewing them over and over in your mind), let them come and go like waves in the ocean or clouds in the sky. To learn how to stop negative thoughts click HERE.
Emotions are felt experiences in the body that can be physically released by relaxing your body, especially where you’re holding fear. Fear is often felt as tightness in the chest or stomach pain. Body-mind practices like yoga can also help you to release fear.
6. Get Centered
Connect with your heart by thinking about someone or something that you love. Imagine white light radiating from your heart out into the world.
• How might I benefit and what would my life be like if I weren’t afraid?
• What would I do if I let go of or faced fear?
• What is fear protecting me from?
You don’t have to overcome your fears all at once. Start slowly. Take baby steps. If you’re afraid of public speaking try speaking to just a few people rather than a huge crowd. Scared of heights? Climb a ladder before scaling a mountain.
Everyday you have numerous opportunities to choose love over fear. When you choose fear you contract and stay stuck. When you choose love you grow and glow.
Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here? — Marianne Williamson
Need help moving from fear to love? Click HERE to apply for a complimentary coaching session.