Day 21: How to Take Charge of Your Fear
Photo Credit: Dan Cederholm via Compfight
In this 30-days to Mastering Your Fears Series, The Skool of Life and The Fear Project are collaborating to blow the doors off our most primal emotion. Today’s substitute teacher is Craig Mcbreen
Fear’s a bitch.
It’s amazing that a little almond-shaped part of our brain has such control over us. The primal amygdala or infamous Lizard Brain. Our own panic room.
But today’s post is less about the science of fear and more about the nuts and bolts of taming our dread. Letting angst cascade off you like beads of dirty water.
And guess what? You, my dear friend have that power residing within. The ability to cast-off this burden.
I’ve relegated fear to the basement but it took a long, long time.
As a kid I was terrified of everything. School was like a prison and dread and apprehension ruled the day. I found solace on my own deserted island and my only comforts were food and solitude.
Fear was my master
From elementary school to college I suffered with this debilitating condition. In fact, it plagued me well into adulthood.
I let people classify me.
I weathered a shit storm of insults and never fought back.
I quaked at the though of confrontation or even interaction.
Fear owned me.
Passivity ruled and I was a fainthearted soul.
Insanely nervous around the school yard bully.
Craven in the face of office confrontations.
I was a virtuoso of avoidance.
And I was Fear’s bitch for a long, long time.
I’m no longer afraid and I’m making up for lost time by drop-kicking the bitch fizz called fear on a daily basis.
How about you?
Do dread and apprehension permeate your soul?
Does aversion win out?
And how is your perspective each day?
Have you learned to tame this unease or does it rule?
To me, fighting fright is about tenacity. You become a pugnacious fear-fighting champion through the power of habit.
And today I’ve written out my own little routines.
Simply try the practices below and see if fear starts losing it’s hold over you …
1. Change your perspective
You alone have to power to alter it daily. Do it. It’s easy to dwell on past failures ’cause negativity bias rules, but make today different. You don’t need to become Stuart Smalley, but as negative thoughts creep in, practice vigilance when fighting them off.
Think of moments when you amazed yourself or were simply very happy. Jettison past bullies and welcome those who love and support you.
Instead of dreading that first task, think beyond it. What can you do now to make it better? To advance to a more fulfilling place?
Perspective. Work to change it, every day. Hit it tomorrow, the next day and the day after that. Don’t stop.
This is age-old advice that works. I’m no Zen master, but taking a few moments to close your eyes, sit in silence and Breathe helps and gives you a boost. And sorry, you’re never too busy to fit this in.
Yes, it’s hard to sit still and do nothing, but here’s my non-scientific approach: Set a timer and start with five minutes a day. Focus on your breath and just let the thoughts come at you, rapid fire.
Add one minute every couple of weeks (at your own pace) and soon enough you’ll be at 20 minutes a day.
Sit on the floor or in a chair, just sit up, don’t lay down. Be alert, but calm, and as you get further into this practice stop letting the bad thoughts in.
They’ll become soccer balls you boot off the field. Or balloons you release into the air.
Push bullies from the stern into the cold, black sea (hey, it works for me). Welcome in the good and focus on the breath. This practice will reward you.
3. Embrace discomfort
This is the whopper. Becoming fast friends with disquietude has done more to change my life than just about anything.
And here’s the reality. I don’t mountain climb, bungee jump or skydive, and you don’t have to either.
Simply getting out and doing something that gives you the jitters starts to numb that ancient fear-response within.
Me? My public speaking anxiety is always there, but I learned how to curb my fearfulness, kindly showing the lizard brain who is master.
You? If something scares the hell out of you, that’s often a good sign. Why not take it on and see what happens?
Comfort is the enemy, my friends.
The steps above will only work if you incorporate them into your routine, daily.
And you know what? They might just be the first steps to a happier and more fulfilling life.