How do you respond when fear grabs you suddenly?
Fear can be tricky and confusing. It’s hard to maintain perspective when you are in the throes of a strong emotion like fear. It can Impair your intuition and cloud your usually good judgment. Is it a genuine warning signal of danger to act on now or is it overblown panic triggered by old memories stored in your cells or negative thought projections? Sometimes a little bit of time breathing into the emotion in a space of stillness is enough to bring you back to the ground and allow some inner wisdom to penetrate. Sometimes it takes a little more and over the years I have found lots of helpful little tips to support me to reframe my experience.
At first I used to panic and shutdown when I felt the stirrings of fear in my belly. When fear ran riot I would feel the urge to run, to shut it down, to do anything other than sit in stillness and let it run through until I could feel a more solid base through the emotion.
I thought of fear more as an enemy and obstacle to overcome than a friendly messenger. I saw her as something to push away or push through and had no idea of the possibilities that would open up if I welcomed her and experienced her with as much willingness as I would joy or happiness.
This pattern was particularly acute in pregnancy. I was vulnerable and open like many pregnant women. Birth is not an activity you can repeat until you get it right, nor is it entirely predictable and I felt the pressure which fuelled my fear.
I persevered with the innerwork and nowadays I see her as a useful friend who serves to keep me on track and motivates me to dig deeper for freedom and peace. Not necessarily a comfortable friend mind. The physical sensations that alert me to fear are the same, quickening of the pulse, shakiness in my belly for example.
I can still get scared when I’m feeling fear. But I have a number of tools and tips that help me out. One of the earliest breakthroughs came from playing with the letters of the word itself. I created an acronym that totally freed up my way of experiencing fear. This ability to let the scaredness run through without letting it run me into hasty fear based decisions took some practice. I had deep grooves and was used to freezing up in the face of fear.
However, with a new perspective I suddenly found fear much easier to handle and without squashing it down was able to work with it and still keep going towards my goals. I remember the first time very clearly and use it as a reminder whenever I forget. The overwhelmingly frightening experience of fear as stronger than me dropped away and I moved from powerlessness to an exciting sense of possibility.
Ok so enough explanation. Here are my two perspectives on fear: The first is the way I used to experience and see fear and the second is my experience using my acronym.
F.E.A.R. Frightening Energy Always Returns.
Looming blackness hovering round the edges of my vision, dread, like a dead weight pulling down at my stomach, pulling my leaden feet down into the earth so I can no longer move, crushing my chest so I can no longer catch my breath. Panic, swirling round me so fast I can’t keep up or make sense of the sensations. I can’t think straight. It’s stronger than me. I don’t know what to do. I can’t do it anyway. I just want to get out of here. Now.
F.E.A.R. Fresh Energy Appearing Rapidly.
I notice the quickening, in my breath, in my being and all around me and I stay still. I know it is just energy. I feel it moving fast towards me and through me and I keep breathing. Even though my breath catches at first, I stay with it. I send myself love and compassion and I wait. I breathe more deeply and I find I can appreciate this strong energy as it moves and I stay still in it. I notice the speed of the energy. I feel its vibrations. It buzzes. I keep breathing and I am still alive. I calm and I begin to see. I am still here. The whole world has not ended. All will be well. I am brave and I open fully into the energy and I move through it. I remember that I can do this. The message becomes clear and I can move beyond, richer for the experience, stronger for the journey.
How differently did you feel as you read each description?
If you read quickly skimming through then have another go.
You may like to take a pen and paper or journal to note down any insights.
Shake yourself into a neutral place before starting then go back and read each one again slowly. Feel your way into each statement and notice how you are sitting, how you are breathing and how your body responds to the words. After the first statement bring yourself back to neutral then read the second one through in a similar way.
How did you experience it this time?
For me contemplating Fear as fresh energy appearing rapidly feels like freedom. I am much more able to cope with fear when it is just energy and it helps me to meet that particular fear freshly each time. Somehow it loses its charge. Its power to cripple me and leave me enslaved to its demands is gone
Of course the trick with any tool is to remember to use it especially in the beginning.
If you like this idea write it out and pin it up somewhere prominent and try reading it out when you next feel fearful. Take a few minutes just to feel the energy moving whilst you stay still and see where your stillness leads you.
No matter how much emotional preparation we do during our pregnancy (and I do highly recommend innerwork and emotional preparation) we cannot be sure we will not meet our old friend FEAR just around the corner at an unexpected and possibly vulnerable moment. Shifting my perspective and transforming my relationship with fear has been fantastically freeing for me and I hope you will also benefit.
Do let me know in the comments how you find it.