Create Space for Fear
In my last post, I was writing on how to increase resilience in our lives. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back after difficulty. One of the ways we can increase our resiliency is by learning how to talk to and “be with” our difficult emotions.
When we experience events in our life as a threat or stressor we often have feelings of anger, fear, frustration, or overwhelm. All of these feelings encourage our lower brain and survival instinct to kick in. In other words, we feel like we are going to die.
Yesterday, I was speaking to a room of employees in Los Angeles about how to increase their resiliency to stress. This seminar is part of a larger mindfulness and well being program that I am leading & supporting this company with. I asked those in the room to name some things that stress them out.
This is what they said:
- Financial obligations
- Traffic (in LA- oh yes!)
- My relationships
- Work demands
- My mother in law
These types of responses are normal and they are universal because all of us as humans have to navigate these types of events in life. We can either choose to move through them with greater calm and ease or react in fight, flight, and/or freeze.
One of the employees shared a specific example she has around fear.
Event: Its bedtime (She has twin boys who are 2 years old and they fight before she puts them down to bed)
Thought: I don’t want to put them to bed.
Behavior: She stalls and puts them to bed later and it in turn makes it harder for them and her.
Our thoughts affect our feelings and thus our behaviors. I invited her to turn around her thought and talk back to her fear.
Event: Its bedtime
Thought: I am going to put them to bed now even if it won’t be pleasant.
Feeling: Acceptance, More ease
Behavior: She puts them to bed and asks her husband to help.
The event is going to be unpleasant, but she isn’t going to die. If she can breathe and then allow her nervous system to relax and see the bigger picture (she is making space) she has the ability to face her fear.
It can often be helpful to say some calming things to yourself when you are aware that fear is here.
“I will be okay.”
“I am safe.”
“I don’t need to go through this alone.”
“I have gotten through more difficult things than this before.”
My unpleasant experience.
Yesterday, on my way to the airport from my day of consulting in LA, I hit more traffic than I anticipated. Instead of needing 1.5 hours, I needed 2 hours. As I was getting closer to the airport, I realized “I am going to miss my flight!” This created feelings of fear and anger in me. I felt my fear and anger and accepted what was. I told myself, “Its okay sweetie. You will get on the next flight out.” I also texted a few people I am close to, to let them know what happened. This allowed me to release some of my agitation and get some support. I gave my fear some space to be and then I calmed it down. My next best move was to relax into the reality of the situation and find the next flight out, which I got on. YAY!
In addition to talking to fear with kindness, it is helpful to release it physically. Our emotions are stored in our physical body so to come back into balance, we feel it and release it. Once I had my boarding pass in hand, I took myself to a spot in the airport where I could shake around a bit and make some noises. Shaking out fear. It sounds silly, but it works. Ahhhh.
When we can great fear with kindness and re-assurance, it normally calms down and then we can figure out our next best move. I now have a better plan for my next trip in April and will give myself more time to navigate traffic.
What Scares You?
How can you speak to your fear in a calm and kind way?
I teach on the concepts of emotional resilience and how to surf the ups and downs of life with strength and ease in my Mindfully Nourished online course. I have been teaching this content and curriculum for over 10 years, have conducted research on it, and this is my ONLY public offering of the course this year. The course starts this Tuesday, March 8th.
I invite you to join me and an empowered group of students on a amazing path of growth and well being.
Learn how to live a fully nourished life at work and home. Click HERE to learn more.