Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Overcoming Fear

Marj at Survivors Can Thrive is hosting a Carnival Against Abuse for October and the topic this month is fear. That’s something everyone is familiar with. It’s what drives all conflict and keeps people from doing the things they want to do. Healthy fear protects us. It keeps us from being reckless. Unhealthy fear stifles us and becomes a prison as real and damaging as any metal bars and concrete buildings could be.

So the question becomes how to deal with fear that works against us. Many of our fears grow out of secret, deeply buried fears and sometimes the best way to go is to face those fears—but not alone. If we do this, we need someone we trust to help us through it. But there is an immense reward for taking that risk and facing those fears. What we run from gains power over us, what we are willing to stand and face often dissipates in the light of day and even when it doesn’t, we’re far better able to cope with it if we face it than if we try to run away.

But that’s the biggie. What about every day fears? On a more mundane level, how do we overcome, get past, get rid of, or otherwise keep fear from disabling us and preventing us from creating the lives we want to have?

You just knew I was going to mention lists, didn’t you? I am because I believe that lists can be concrete talismans that help us cope with fear and self-doubt.

So...here are some useful lists to make and other things to do to overcome fear:

1) Everything you’ve been able to accomplish in your life.

2) All your strengths and capabilities.

3) People you can turn to for support, knowledge, training, protection, etc.

4) 20 things you can do in 2 minutes or less (each). (On a day when you’re feeling scared or overwhelmed, do 3 things from the list right in a row, as fast as you can. You’ll be amazed how much better, stronger, and capable you feel.)

5) Go through your closets, jewelry boxes, etc. Put where you can easily find them those things you have worn when you felt strong, overcame a challenge, etc. (These are positive triggers that can enhance your courage when you need it most simply by wearing them.)

6) If you’re scared, see if you can separate the part of the fear that belongs to the reality of the situation NOW and what belongs to the past. If you can figure out how the situation resonates with the past and recognize that part of the fear, imagine boxing it up and putting it on a shelf in the closet (or in some way separating it from the fear that belongs to NOW).

7) Do what you’re scared of anyway. Often we build up the fear in our own minds but when we do what we’ve been fearing, we realize it wasn’t so hard or scary after all. We discover a new strength, skill, larger comfort zone, etc.

8) For any challenge you are going to undertake, set up a reward for after you’ve done it.

9) Celebrate the courage it takes to do something—even if that thing would be easy for someone else.

10) Visualize yourself successfully accomplishing whatever it is that scares you that you want or need to do.

11) Practice deep, quiet breathing. This is even more powerful if you can hold a peaceful, safe image in your mind as you do it.

12) Collect empowering music. This can be music that evokes a feeling of being strong and capable or it can be music that is so soothing it replaces fear with a feeling of safety and calm.

13) Find an affirmation that works for you. It could be something as simple as: NOW I am safe. It could be something as complex as: I can figure this out and if I can’t there are people who can help me do so. They key is to find something that gives you a feeling of strength and courage.

Gee, can you tell this is something I’ve thought a lot about? Hey, I’m a slow learner! I spent much of my life being terrified of pretty much everything. Didn’t stop me from doing a bunch of stuff but still, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling.

I don't think fear is uncommon for survivors of abuse. After all, if you're in a situation for years, especially growing up, where at any moment, someone might lash out at you or hurt you, it's hard not to be afraid. The good news is that we can undo that conditioning. These days I’m pretty happy and rarely find myself afraid. Thanks to the ideas listed above.

Wishing for all of you that you find what works for you and that you are able to overcome your deepest fears and create the lives you want to have.

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

April_optimist

11 comments:

Marj aka Thriver said...

Hey, I like some of these ideas. Great post! Thanks for submitting it for the blog carnival. You're awesome!

zennist said...

I stopped listening to my mp3 player for a while because it become connected to my latest surgery. My therapist also suggested that I face my fears and not give up another thing I loved. You have excellent suggestions!

Rising Rainbow said...

It looks like a great list.

Beauty said...

With your words you're empowering women everywhere to face their fears with logic, gentleness and faith in their own innate strength.

Thanks for writing this!

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great post and I will be making such a list for myself. If I post it I will link you.

Apologies for the anonymimity but I just dont like being me at the moment. I havent visited before but I will return.
Thanks.

Karma said...

Fear is a really big issue for me. I don't always realize how much fear is ruling me, but recently I've been seeing how many of my decisions are ruled by fear.

jumpinginpuddles said...

fear is us thats what makes us who we are but ......we arent ugly.... we are pretty......and one day we wont be scared either

Patricia Singleton said...

This is a great list of ideas to help you overcome your fears. I printed it out to give to my mother-in-law who is very fearful right now with some health issues. She is also a sexual abuse survivor who has never worked on and rarely talks about her abuse experience.

motherwintermoon said...

Thank you, April, for the helpful list. I always like your lists. Lists are concise sources of strength and affirmation that we can print out, post on our fridges, or carry with us.

keepers said...

we use several of these but want to thank you for listing all you have presented here, we bet a lot of people will see this, passed on from friends maybe or reposted elsewhere, whatever, it will help others.

peace and blessings

keepers

April_optimist said...

Marj, I'm so glad you had this carnival and the post worked for it.

Zennist, One thing you can do is "reset" your emotional response to the mp3 player. Hold it and imagine wonderful times in your life. When that feels right, start listening to it while you consciously remember good moments in your life. You'll reprogram it to be a positive rather than negative trigger for you.

Rising Rainbow, Thank you!

Beauty and Anonymous, Welcome and thank you for your kind words.

Karma, My most recent post may speak to that. (((Hugs)))

JIP, Good for you! Yes!!! See the good in yourself and celebrate that!

Patricia, I hope it helps your mil.

Mother Wintermoon and Keepers, Thank you. I do believe in the cumulative power of ALL our combined blogs.