Tag Archives: fear

Reducing fear in life

fear photo

Reducing fear in life

Anticipation is often far worse than the reality. Our thoughts can invite crazy fear into our lives that may not even exist. As they say – when you are in your own mind, you are in enemy territory. For many people suffering from fear and anxiety, some imagined dreaded outcome has become a nightmare that they seek to avoid at all costs. Confronting the imagined fear is a powerful way to defuse the anxiety.

Identify the worst case scenario

What is your ultimate fear? Is it losing a loved one, getting a disease, being rejected or lonely?

Write down a detailed description

Describe in as much detail as you can what you imagine might happen to you. Why did this terrible tragedy happen? How has it affected you physically and emotionally? How have you reacted to this? How do you imagine this dreaded event  How will it affect your life? How are you trying to cope?

Review the catastrophe you wrote down

Try to imagine what it would be like to experience this dreaded worst case scenario. Spend at least thirty minutes over several days imagining to the best of your ability what your life would be like living in “the eye of the storm”. Fully embrace it. It’s important not to simply read what you have written down, get emotionally involved with it. After a few days you will notice that the worst case scenario becomes much less anxiety provoking. When your anxiety has been reduced by half it’s time to go to the next step.

Develop a problem-solving plan

What could you do to minimise the emotional and physical effect of the catastrophe? How would you get on with work, family, leisure etc? How would ensure some quality of life for yourself? How could you encourage a hopeful optimistic attitude? Write down the coping plan on the same sheet where you wrote down the worst case scenario.

After doing this, repeatedly imagine yourself coping well with the worst case scenario. Keep doing this until you can fully imagine yourself coping effectively.

Fear is overrated. Some fear is healthy. It teaches us to be prepared but never allow it to overwhelm you. Challenge your fearful thinking – they are just thoughts. Not necessarily reality. Tell yourself you will cope. That you are strong and resilient. Master fear and confront it readily and it will lose its power.

Mandy X

How to face your fears

 

fears photo

How to face your fears

What are you afraid of? Do you avoid relationships because you fear rejection? Do you avoid job interviews as you worry you will fail? Fear is everywhere but it’s mostly in our minds. I know that seems a contradiction but it is only when you face your fears that you will realise that fear exists mainly in our minds.

We have a choice about how we want to view things in life. We can see the world as a scary place where others can’t be trusted and people are out to get us, or we can accept that parts of life are like that but we can still carry on and live life without allowing self limiting beliefs to limit our opportunities.

When you face your fears, you break down the huge threat that exists in your mind (eg. I will never be able to do that, that person is better than me, no one will ever love me, I am not good enough to do that, I will embarrass myself, no one understands me, I am the only one who is alone etc) and you build up confidence in your ability to cope with the tough times and your fears.

How to face your fears

Make a list of the things you fear. For example: talking to a stranger, opening up to your partner, going to the gym, etc

Rate each fear out of ten. Ten being the most stressful, one being the least stressful.

Example: Speaking to someone on the phone  2/10

Go shopping when there’s lots of people          4/10

Speak to a stranger                                               6/10

Ask my boss for a raise                                        7/10

Being assertive with a friend                               9/10

Telling my partner how I really feel                    10/10

Start with the lowest rated fears and begin working your way up. It’s all about baby steps. The more you face your fears the less you will fear them. Either, the worst won’t happen as you probably worry about and even if it doesn’t go well, you will be challenging the fearful thoughts and showing yourself that you can still cope.

Each step requires repetition so do each one regularly. The more you do it the less it will create fear for you. The less we fear the more opportunities we get in life.

If you think you would find it difficult to try the above steps on your own, speak to a Cognitive Behavioural therapist who can help you through the process. I have done it and it works!

Mandy X

 

The cause of anxiety

 

anxious photo

The cause of anxiety

In cognitive behavioural therapy, we refer to the anxiety equation. The anxiety equation shows the cause of anxiety.

Overestimation of the threat

____________________________________  =  Anxiety

Underestimation of ability to cope

Anxiety is always caused by our overestimation of the perceived threat and our underestimation of our ability to cope or handle the situation.

With regard to overestimating the threat – think about a time when you have anticipated an event and got yourself all worked up over it. Then  when you have actually experienced the dreaded event, you have found that it wasn’t half as bad as you expected it to be. Sound familiar?? This is part of the reason why we feel so anxious.

The other part is that we often underestimate our ability to cope. We tell ourselves we won’t be able to do it or that if the feared thing does happen, we will have a panic attack or not be able to manage it. We talk to ourselves in a fearful way that adds to our sense of dread. What we then do is try to avoid the event (which is the worst thing to do) or we find ways that we feel will help us cope by employing “safety behaviours”. Safety behaviours are things that we do that help us to cope temporarily in a feared or stressful situation. For some, it may be carrying a bottle of water or looking at our mobile phone (say for example in a situation where we feel anxious socially, in the company of others) or it could be complete avoidance. The problem is that when we avoid something we fear, the fear grows in our mind and we never test out our beliefs. When we face our fears, we often realise that we cope far better than we thought we would and this helps us to grow in confidence.

Even of the feared event doesn’t go that well, we teach ourselves that we still get through it, that we are still standing at the end of it and in this way we chip away at the fearful beliefs.

So, keep facing your fears. Keep repeating this and the more you face the feared situation, the easier it becomes and the less you will fear it. Start with baby steps if need be. For example, if you truly fear walking in to a room full of strangers ( a 10 out of 10 rating for anxiety, 0 = no anxiety, 10 = most anxiety), start with a 1 or 2 out of 10 anxiety rating. For example, perhaps start out by entering a room with one friend in it, then a few friends in it (slightly higher rating of 3 out of 10), then progress to a room full of friends (rating 5 out of 10 and then finally a room full of strangers)…this is just a very general example of “graded exposure” – get used to each level until the anxiety dissipates and then progress up to higher rating of anxiety of your feared-situation list.

In this way, you will learn to see the threat for what it really is, which is often less scary that you thought it would be and you also learn that you can cope with difficult situations. You will only know this by testing your beliefs out to see what happens!

You don’t need to live with anxiety – learn to challenge your fears. You may need to be out of your comfort zone more often but in the end you will expand your area of comfort and feel anxiety much less often and that is something we would all welcome!

Mandy X

 

 

Stop running away

 

stop running away

Stop running away

When life gets overwhelming, it is tempting to want to avoid problems, pretend they aren’t there and numb ourselves with some from of escapism such as alcohol, drugs, excessive spending, illicit affairs and so on.

The problem with this strategy is that avoidance often prolongs the issue that we are running away from, effectively extending our misery. Often we avoid something because we feel it will be unpleasurable – for example – confronting a partner about an unhappy relationship or leaving a job that you are no longer happy in. Running away doesn’t always consist of actively running away – it can also encompass denial and a refusal to tackle life issues.

Examine your attitude to the things you run away from. Instead of fear and avoidance, start telling yourself that embracing and confronting issues head on is where it’s at. Regularly repeat statements to yourself such as, “I am in control and will no longer tolerate unsuitable situations in my life”. “I will not be afraid to change my life circumstances as my goal is to improve my quality of life”. Initial change is scary for anyone but after the initial shock, you will feel the pleasure of knowing you are living a life of integrity and that you are ‘designing’ a life for yourself that is right…don’t settle and definitely don;t avoid out of fear. Be brave, see yourself as a Trojan – someone who isn’t afraid to tackle life and feel alive, even if feeling alive hurts sometimes.

The more you confront issues, the more empowered and confident you will ultimately feel. Don’t fear change, fear staying the same – fear accepting and ‘settling’…that is much more frightening.

Mandy X