An Important thing to Learn about Fear

Jun 25, 2015 | Anxiety, Blog

managing fear
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I’m reading Susan Jeffers’ amazing book, again, ‘Feel the Fear and do it Anyway’. Every time I read it, I glean something new and its amazing message sinks a little deeper into my psyche.

The basic premise is that everyone experiences fear and the aim of the game is not to eliminate fear (which is impossible anyway) but to get more comfortable with experiencing fear and knowing that you don’t need to allow fear to hold you back.

I was quite a fearful kid; I would hold on to the bannister tightly while walking down the stairs, I would cling to my best friend at school and I was too shy to dance at my ballet lessons so I would often sit in the corner on my own.

This might have been partly as a result of being quite over protected as a child; often being told to ‘be careful’ by my lovely Mum and being warned of the various dangers out there in the big bad world.

Many of us, from a young age, are told in blatant or more subtle ways, that the world is a treacherous place, and we should be careful.

Susan Jeffers says that the implication behind this is that the world is scary and you won’t be able to handle it.

At the root of many of our fears come from a lack of trust in our ability to be able to handle situations. Whether it be of failure, public speaking, a new relationship, a physical feat or a big project at work.

Learning that it’s ok to feel afraid is a big step. Feel the fear and know that it’s ok to feel it and still do the things that scare us. Everyone is in the same boat. As long as you are doing things in your life and growing as a person, you will experience some fear.

Often we find that when we face our fears, they diminish anyway, because we’ve either

a) Proven that we can in fact handle the feared situation and everything was fine

or

b) Something has gone a little wrong and we’ve leaned that even then, it’s not actually as bad as we imagined. Again, we handled it, even as it went ‘wrong’.

At age 9 I went though a bit of a transformation. There was a theme park near where I lived and it’s ‘scariest’ ride was called ‘The Tower of Terror’.

After much ‘umming and ahhing’ I finally plucked up the courage to go on the ride. The thrill was incredible! From being a very cautious child, I’d faced a fear and I had survived!

After that I was much more confident; I knew that I was capable of doing scary things and that I could cope with it. It felt great!

One client of mine recently told me that he felt as though he was slowly expanding his circle of capability. Having suffered with fear and anxiety for some time, he had felt as though his sphere of life had shrunk to the point where he only felt safe while in bed.

He found that by slowly expanding his circle, going a little out of his comfort zone, learning that he can in fact handle things, he was able to feel more confident and calm about trying new things. He has to travel 200 miles to come to his sessions with me and says that the experience of coming to London, staying in a hotel and meeting new people has been something that in the past he would have been too afraid to do.

But he pushed past his fear, expanded his circle and now, who knows what he’ll try next.

Another way to think about fear is that it’s very similar to another feeling, excitement. The only difference really between fear and excitement are our thoughts about it. Robert Heller said “fear is excitement without breath”.

If we can change the way we think about fear, feel it and breathe into it we can change our experience of it, from something we need to escape from, to something to get excited about instead.

So definitely check out Susan Jeffers book if you haven’t already. Hope you have a great rest of your week. I’m off on holiday this Saturday to France for some pool side laziness.

I’d love to hear from you; what is your ‘Tower of Terror’? How could you expand your circle? Let me know by clicking here and making a comment below the blog.

And if you think this could help someone, please share it.

Chloe_x_1

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4 Comments

  1. Belinda

    I have read Susan Jeffers book in both fear & love and I must say it’s definitely a stepping stone towards the right direction in overcoming fear & panic, but it’s not completely helpful in fact it’s flooding certain situations, Feel the fear and do it anyway, that’s if your strong, not on medication and not crippled by Anxiety, Anxiety needs to be overcome slowly through desensitisation: gradually exposing yourself to fearful situations not flooding it. Example of Flooding: your fear is to fly a plane, you are not going to book a flight to Europe from Australia and hope you make a 26hour flight to London, that’s flooding and that’s taking a huge step backwards to recovery, I can guarantee you, that you will have several or more panic attacks on flight, you won’t make it to London you will get off the flight when the plane is in transit at its native country, you fly back to Australia calmer and you will never in your life step foot on a plane again. That’s the problem with Flooding, it’s a setback & a diaster. Desensitisation: you drive past the airport until it no longer bother’s you, you then park at the airport until it gets boring and then you walk in the domestic or international terminal until it no longer bothers you, if (you have $800 you can do a QANTAS Fearless flying course with psychologist & group therapy that incorporates a flight interstate), if not you talk to flight attendants at boarding doors, you familiarise yourself with flying until you feel comfortable to fly one hour interstate for the day & come back at night, the next time stay over night, then two nights and you have officially overcome the fear of flying, it’s not going to be easy but I tell you a secret, that I used when I had to get on a plane interstate after many years of flying but anxiety took away my travelling, I was boarding the plane, gave my pass to the air hostess and said, I suffer from panic attacks, do you think you could check on me whilst we are mid air, she reassured me. I sat in my seat, before take off another air hostess came over and asked me how I was feeling before take off, I told her so far so good, she replied I’ll come and see how your going in a while, 10 minutes into the flight another host came over and asked by then I felt calm and said “I think I’m going to be ok” he replied, this is the buzzer if you have any issues. I’ve been flying everywhere since but let me tell you, there are some occasions where I have to build myself up again because it’s not constant exposure so I make sure I am at every occasion to wave some1 else off or welcome someone home and sometimes I just go to the airport for fun, because I don’t want to take a step backwards and now today as I write, I’m ok, I can fly. I use the same process to shopping centres, large crowds, elevators, heights, enclosed spaces, going to places outside my comfort zone like too far from home and when I use the step program I have achieved so much. 10 years of seeing psychologists, reading over 20 self help books, went to two anxiety clinic’s to which I only stayed 3 nights as I only went to learn coping strategies and made many friends to which we still are today, see a psychiatrist once every 3 months to check on my medication which I’m reducing at a very gradual pace and I have to say the book that helped me the most is called Coping with Anxiety by Edmund Bourke & Lorna Garano, this book gave me tools that I could say goodbye to my psychologist, after all if after 10 years of session and you are still at block A, they aren’t doing anything right, this book moved me to B, C, D, E and the rest through exposure. I can say from when I first started to suffer in 2002, if I had read this book then I would have overcome anxiety & yes you can overcome it, it doesn’t hang around like a disease, there is a cure and it’s called “working towards a better life” key word “working” you can not expect results without the work & even after you accomplished all your fears from time to time your heart will flutter but you will find area’s in your life that you have grown to help you get through those moments, like Art therapy (colouring, drawing,painting, clay moulding etc), fitness (walking, gym, boot camp), Talking (call a friend or family member), be positive stay in the now and ask yourself, why am I feeling this way, I’m ok!
    Just carry on….
    I just wanted to share my journey xx

    Reply
    • Chloe B

      Thank you so much for sharing Belinda! x

      Reply
  2. Linzi Clark

    As a great fan of Susan Jeffers, I can highly recommend this book. I’m making a big effort this year to take on new challenges – I recently trekked to the top of Snowdon which gave me an unexpected confidence boost and I am now constantly looking for new opportunities to try things that my mind has previously told me I can’t do!

    Reply
    • Chloe B

      Fantastic Linzi! x

      Reply

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