We all experience fear in its many forms. Whether it’s the fight or flight fear of someone following us in a dark parking lot or the anger created when we feel that our ego is threatened.
Sometimes it’s anxiety created from a fear of not having enough money, time, freedom or love. Or a frustration over never seeming to have enough. Or sadness from the fear of life no longer being like it was.
We worry incessantly about things for fear that something will or won’t happen.
All this creates a lot of stress. Something we all need a lot less of as we know how stress negatively affects our bodies in many ways (back aches, headaches, digestive issues, immune system deficiencies, chronic diseases).
ControlBasically these fears stem from feeling out of control. There’s something or someone in our environment that we would like to control but can’t.
The first step to eliminating these fears and negative emotions is to sit down and really look at the situation and determine how much of it you can control.
When you really think about it, the only things you can control are your own personal thoughts and actions.
You can’t control the actions of others or how others will react to you.
This does not, by any means, mean that you are a victim of “the way things are.” Quite the contrary.
Sitting around being angry or frustrated because other people and circumstances aren’t changing for you and then blaming them for your unhappiness is the epitome of playing the victim. By blaming others and not taking responsibility to change what you can change, you give others complete control of you.
By focusing on changing yourself instead of trying to change so many things out of your control, you begin to regain control of your life.
By changing how you think about a situation, you change how you act or react. This, in turn, leads others to react differently.
And not taking the reactions of others personally gives you the freedom to continue on a more positive path to your desired outcome. If, as we stated earlier, you can’t control other people, then others can’t control you unless you make the choice to give them that control.
AcceptanceThe next step to eliminating fear is to really accept the things you can’t change. Yes, this is starting to sound like the Serenity Prayer:
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference."
Accepting people for who and what they are and believe.
Accepting circumstances that you’ve tried your best to change without results.
Accepting yourself, knowing that you’ve done your best.
Acceptance can be hard. We’re taught to push and force until things succumb to our whim. But the world doesn’t work that way.
Do you want to be right or happy?
Acceptance really does lead to a feeling of serenity. It also leaves us the energy to change the things we can change.
If you’re having a hard time accepting someone because of their views or beliefs, ask yourself what purpose your anger and frustration are serving. Will being angry make the other person think and act in a way that you want? Probably not. Anger usually results in defensiveness and more anger. If your anger makes others act differently due to their own fear of your anger, their actions aren’t genuine and heart-felt and will come back to bite you some time later.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty irrelevant whether people agree or disagree with you. Do your best knowing that it’s the best you can do.
Listen to Your BodyI realize that the above ideas sound simple but are not easy. It has taken me years to implement them into my life. And I certainly have times where I slip and try to control something or someone I can’t or don’t accept someone or something after I’ve tried long and hard to change it.
During the tough times, I now know to quiet my mind and emotions for a little bit and listen to my body.
Sit in a quiet place with no distractions. Go into a room away from phones and computers so you won’t be tempted by their little notifications.
Sit and breathe deeply. Start by taking ten deep breaths, counting as you go. Focus on the breath filling your lungs deeply and exhaling slowly out of your nose. Try to clear your mind of its incessant chatter and just focus on your breath and the counting.
If your mind wanders, don’t beat yourself up. Just release the distracting thoughts and start back at one. You may have to repeat this process a few times before you finally reach ten. This will help you to focus and center yourself so that you can listen to your True Self.
When you feel relaxed and at ease, notice what your negative thought or belief is. What is the fear, anger, frustration, sadness or whatever really about? Don’t judge it. Just notice it. Be gentle with yourself.
Don’t try to make it better, rationalize it or stuff it back down. You’re going to make friends with it. Open up and take a good look at it.
Now that you can feel it a little better, ask where you feel your fear-based emotion in your body. Is your neck, face, eyes, shoulders, back, chest or gut holding it? What aches? Go to that place. Notice how it feels in the part of your body holding the feeling.
Don’t try to make it go away. Keep your focus on that place. Go deeply into it. Explore it.
Now ask that part of your body what message it’s trying to tell you. What is the negative emotion trying to protect you from? How is it trying to help you?
Our True Self is always looking out for us and would never seek to cause us harm. While we may be experiencing self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, when we look deeply into this, our True Self is seeking our highest good. We may not be choosing the most productive ways to manifest these goals.
Know that there is good behind these feelings. Ask yourself what the message is and be open to whatever comes up. Listen. You may hear things you don’t want to hear. Listen anyway. Without listening and really hearing, you’ll go back to repeating the negative things you’re trying to resolve.
Each time you receive an answer, ask again to go more deeply. You’ll have to peel off many layers to get to the essence of the feeling.
Once you feel that the answer is about unconditional love, you’ll know that you’ve gotten to the core.
Feel the love throughout your body. Know that this love is always there to be accessed whenever you want.
The next time you start to feel any kind of fear-based feeling, get quiet and still your mind and access that unconditional love that’s always there for you, no matter what.