Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Letting Go of Fear

If you have been through trauma or abuse at any point in your life, it may seem sometimes as if you are always afraid, always expecting the worst, always waiting for the other shoe to drop and the next thing to go wrong.

That’s not surprising if there was a time in your life when everything was out of your control and horrible things did happen. The problem with this is that it’s not a good way to live NOW. When we are afraid, our brains literally function differently. We are more likely to forget things and less able to see possibilities—which increases the likelihood that something will go wrong! It’s a vicious cycle.

On the other hand, IF we are able to let go of fear—or at least let go of unnecessary fear—our brains will function better and we are more likely to be able to come up with solutions for challenges we face. Letting go of fear makes it more likely things will go RIGHT.

Okay, how do we do that? In part, it comes from grounding ourselves in a sense of who we are and what we can do. It comes from choosing to act, rather than reacting to life. Instead of waiting for other people to do things for us or decide where a relationship is going, we can choose to do things for ourselves and make our own choices about what we want and don’t want in our lives. If there is a problem, instead of waiting until it becomes a crisis, we can choose to address it NOW.

I truly believe that within each of us is the ability to handle whatever challenge we face. We may not always like the options, but we DO have the ability to handle it IF we let go of fear and choose to act.

Steps to letting go of fear:
1) Take a deep breath. Seriously, in any situation where we are afraid, taking deep, slow breaths helps. It slows down the physical reactions of fear as well as giving us enough oxygen to let our brain function better.
2) Remind ourselves of the things we do well and ways/times we have successfully coped in the past.
3) Take tiny steps to tackle the problem.
4) Break the problem down into lots of pieces and do them in the order that builds the experience of success. We do NOT always have to do things in the order that most people do them! We can often be creative and do them in a way that works better for us.
5) Take a deep breath.
6) Ask advice from neutral parties and/or do research on our options.
7) Take a deep breath.
8) Go for a walk—this helps neutralize stress hormones, etc. in the body and clears the mind.
9) Stock the kitchen with healthy foods so that we do not sabotage ourselves. There is a strong mind/body connection and it goes both ways.
10) Laugh. Do something that makes you laugh or at least smile. The time you take to do this will replenish your emotional reserves so that you come back better able to tackle the challenge.
11) Meditate. This helps both the body and the mind. It may also help us connect with a sense of something greater than ourselves that we can draw on NOW to help us cope with life.
12) Seek out or create a network of supportive, positive people—people who believe that life CAN be good!

Life will hand us challenges but we can go from being overwhelmed by them and always expecting the worst to knowing that we can trust ourselves to be able to handle any challenge.

Sending safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),


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