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Breaking down the Fears

Fear is a strange thing, isn’t it? It creeps in…uninvited, undesired and can make you feel wholly paralyzed in an instant. We can become victims of our fears, but I’m here to tell you that you can adjust your perspective on it and even work with it. Fear has been one of my most significant working points for my personal health and wellbeing. I grew up thinking emotions happen to you. I didn’t realize my power to work with them. I am still learning to master this (probably will be working on that for the rest of my life) but my growth and learning has been profound and exciting. So here’s my take on fear and how I deal with it, using this fear acronym. I believe that there are two kinds of fear: The Real Fear and The Imagined Fear. 

The Real Fear

Real Fear is the one that can save your life. This is the one that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you’re walking down a dark street at night and feel someone following you. Listen to this one! Always listen to this one! In fact, I think we do not listen to this one often enough, out of politeness or concern for others. I once saw an interview with Gavin De Becker (Author of The Gift of Fear- great book by the way) in which he said that we are the only species that will get into a metal cage with something we fear. Think about it; you’re in a parking garage waiting for the elevator. The door opens, and there’s a guy inside who immediately gives you the creeps. Many of us will still get on that elevator…why is that? Is it because we don’t want to be rude? We don’t want to be awkward? Don’t want to have to wait for the next elevator? Now imagine a bunny waiting for the elevator, and the door opens, and there’s a dog, that bunny is not asking herself any questions (could be a nice dog? Am I overreacting?)…Nope! Fear kicks in, and she’s out of there. We have got to listen to our inner bunnies and put politeness aside, don’t be rude about it but trust your gut. So my only homework with this fear for myself (and for you) is to check in with it more often. And if you ever find yourself even thinking “should I do ….? Even though I’ve got a funny feeling” remember your inner bunny and get out.

The Imagined Fear

Let me be clear I am not trying to say that your emotions aren’t real, or that it’s made up, or that this type of fear is peanuts to deal with. I just personally feel that there’s clear line between the imminent danger fear and the fear swirling around in my head at 2 am while laying awake in bed.
The Imagined Fear is the fear that you feel when you’re thinking of something in the future that worries or scares you. This might be something like; “I’m scared that I won’t ever find another boyfriend” or “I’m worried that I won’t be any good at that job” or “I am terrified that I will never feel healthy again”. These are worries and fears that we create in our heads. They are based in some reality; a past experience or current situation, but we’re projecting this fear into the future and making it bigger and scarier. The reason I work to hard to pull these apart for myself is because I don’t want to be paralyzed by them. So what I do here is I remember these acronyms:

The Power of the Fear Acronym

Future Events Appearing Real

False Evidence Appearing Real

Sit with those for a minute and see which of them fits better to your current fear or struggle. Future Events Appearing Real or False Evidence Appearing Real? I find that one of these two always fits and what I love about them is that they help me pull the fear out of the future where it feels big and scary and impossible to manage.

Finding Clarity and Calm

I pull it into the present and look at it closely asking myself all sorts of questions. Here are some examples of helpful questions to help tear apart the fear so you can hopefully minimize it or even find a lesson in it.

  • Is this happening right now? Or…am I scared about something in the future?
  • What real hard evidence is there that this is 100% true?
  • Where did this fear come from? (was there a bad experience? or did someone implant this fear in me through their story?)
  • How does this fear serve me? (Example: Is it showing that something matters more to me than I thought? or Is it showing me that I have insecurities that I might want to address further?)
  • What do I have control over? How could I change the outcome that I am fearful of?
  • What safety lines can I put in place for myself to help with this fear? Is there anything I can do or ask others to do that can make a little difference?

Afterward, I feel that I have a much clearer understanding. What once was a jumbled mess of fear is now much clearer lines of understanding and appreciation. Then calm sets in, and I get very clear on what I can do to turn those worries into warriors.

Your Fears

This is just my way, but I’m sure you’ll tweak it and make it fit your needs. I hope that this has given you some little aha! moments into how you could deal with some of your fears. Also, be sure to check out my Free PDF Worksheets that you can download. Most of them will be helpful when tackling your fears and turning them into actions.

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