We all experience fear. Whether it is fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being alone, fear of not being perfect or even being fearful of our emotions, fear can really get the best of us and make us feel alone, small, and dampen our ability to share our unique gifts with others. But, there are several ways that we can reduce fear. Try this four-step process for feeling more confident and calm when fear shows up.
CHALLENGE THE FEAR
- Fear has a way of distorting reality. See if you can push back and separate fact from fiction. What really are the facts of the situation? Is what the fear saying really, truly, absolutely true?
CHECK YOUR BODY
- Where does the fear live in your body? Different emotions impact our bodies differently, and different types of fear may elicit different body cues. Learning to connect with our body during times of distress can help us understand what we are needing in that moment. For example, you might notice your shoulders tensing up, which can help you to choose ways to stretch, move, or care for yourself in that moment, helping you move from a state feeling fearful to feeling calmer.
- Breathing exercises can also be helpful in these moments. If you can identify where the fear lives in your body, you can also imagine moving it or changing it with your breath. These techniques can help you feel calmer and more in control of your body.
- Fear, like any other emotion, is really trying to communicate something about our values or needs. Pay attention to your thoughts and inner dialogue. When the fear shows up, what are you needing? Are you needing to be heard, to be seen, to be valued, or perhaps, to be loved? As you identify the parts of yourself that need attention, elicit your inner strengths to attune to those needs. For example, if you are really needing words of affirmation before a big presentation, imagine a friend or loved one speaking positively to you and reminding you of your strengths.
DEVELOP A SAFE PLACE
- When we are feeling grounded, safe, and secure in the world, we don’t leave much room for fear. What places make you feel safe and secure? It might be a real place, like a path you often walk, or it might be a place you imagine in your mind. When you begin to feel the fear come up, imagine being in your safe place. As you do this, your body will remember the feelings of comfort that this place brings you, allowing for the feelings of fear to become smaller and smaller.
When fear comes up, try this four-step process to begin experimenting with how you can transform fear. There may be steps you are drawn to more than others. Allow yourself to tweak as needed. And always remember, you are stronger and wiser than the fears you face.
Dr. Debra Rezendes – Resident in Marriage and Family Counseling
Debra has over ten years of community and clinical work experience with individuals, children, parents, and families. She has been published in the Journal of Happiness Studies and Autism Research and Treatment. Debra received her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern University. She has skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), strengths-based therapies, self-compassion training, attachment-based therapies, play therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Click HERE to learn more about Dr. Rezendes.