Nasty little bugger, that fear. Many times it bubbles up from the expected places. And sometimes it flies in your face from a sudden realization or occurrence.
But when it settles in, it’s always about a future event.
Having that right now. Over the last few days news came of the truly terrible kind from a dear friend. Our small tight-knit group is trying to process it, and thank God we have one another. But prognosis is not good. The road ahead looks dark and deep with a yawning abyss at the end, and from that, fear keeps flying up with the snarling face of a bloody-fanged monster.But we’re not there yet, are we? And so even though the fear bites in the present, what it’s about lies in the future.
And one thing I know for true: This demon will do me absolutely no good in the interim. What will happen, will happen. And being afraid of it does nothing but keep me out of the present moment, which is the only place I truly can live.
This is a demon I know. I’m sure you also know it all too well. I can look at it perched on my shoulder and say, “Well, hello there, fear. Not so nice to see you again.”
And then before he grabs hold of my intestines and twists them to the breaking point, I know what to do.
4 Steps to Keep Fear from Owning You
- Look it in the eye. Acknowledge its presence. Pretending it’s not there or denying it and stuffing it into the dark only causes it to grow stronger.
That’s what my “hello” to it does for me—I face it.
And once I do that, I can already feel its talons losing their grip.
- Stop the negative thoughts. Fear thrives on them. Especially those circular kind that repeat 60,000 times per day, seeping deeply into your subconscious (from which you live) and sowing all manner of havoc on every part of your life.
Just stop it. Say to the negative thought: I am stronger than you. You will not own me.
- Redirect your mind. Even in times of horror, positive thinking is a choice. So is negative thinking. So if it’s my choice either way, why would I subject my mind, body, and spirit to negative thoughts all day, and the train wreck those produce?
Because there is always something to be grateful for. And by focusing on that, on something good and whole and life-sustaining, a thing that causes my heart to fill with love, I can literally feel my body become stronger.
Gratitude and fear cannot live in the same space. It’s my choice which one to allow purchase.
- Persist. Dealing with fear, especially when the situation will be sustained for a while, requires diligence, fortitude, and commitment. Otherwise it’s far too easy to slip straight back into the black abyss that terror brings.
I do this by repetition. Whether it be a quote that becomes my mantra for the day, or a song that lifts my heart. Corny as it sounds, Pharrell’s “Happy” can dance me out of the doldrums.
Even if I’m hearing and singing it through tears.
Today I need a meaningful quote for my mantra, and I’ve settled on this Sanskrit poem:
“Each today, well-lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look, therefore, to this one day, for it and it alone is life.”
How do you live with fear?