How to Silence the Fear
I’ve spent most of my life in a perpetual state of anxiety; a result of childhood experiences, brain chemistry, or a combination of both. I don’t know. Regardless, fear, anxiety and dread have always been operating in the background, creeping into every activity and social interaction, slowing me down and sometimes paralyzing me. I was great at not displaying this angst, but it was always there, deeply within.
As a kid, I lived in my own private bubble. Chubby, antisocial and disengaged is no way to live, especially during those formative years. My teens and twenties were not much better. And this affliction lasted well into my thirties. I had my nose to the grindstone and I carried on, displaying confidence, but always knee-deep in dread and apprehension. I concealed it well, but it festered within.
Fear and anxiety are primal emotions which originate in the amygdala, our infamous lizard brain. It’s an extraordinary part of the machine. You need it, but its elemental interference can dominate your life if you let it. In Jonathan Field’s latest book, “Uncertainty,” he writes about changing a story to alter your emotional response. He explains how cognitive reevaluation activates the prefrontal cortex and lessens the influence of our hard-wired reptilian friend, where fear and anxiety reside. If you reconstruct a scenario, you can bend panic and fear into more positive thoughts, even excitement, numbing these ever-present, primitive emotions.
Changing a storyline in your head can alter the way our brains process the experience, toning down this ancient programming. You basically alter a story in a way that softens the fear and propels you to action. You really can bend fear into something else entirely.
I worked to change those negative bits and bytes into positive outcomes or best case scenarios, reprogramming the machine by taming and reframing, creating positive outcomes in my head and continually reinforcing affirmative thoughts. I didn’t start this process until I was in my forties. Hey, you don’t have to tell me I’m a slow learner.
I find it helps when I take time to sit in silence. To stop and slowly reconstruct situations in my head over and over again helped. It eased the panic. This structured meditation propelled me to get out and “do.” To take risks. And once I started “doing,” fear became much easier to manage.
It’s not a perfect system and I’m still a work-in-progress, but it’s another unscientific approach that has worked for me. These practices helped me tame my fears and get on with life in a big way.
How do you silence your fears? What techniques do you use to stop the fear and get on with your life?
photo credit: joiseyshowaa