Fear is protective. It’s our mind’s way of understanding a threat, processing exactly how threatening it is, and coordinating some kind of response. But we tend to have it in excess and hold onto it for too long, as if a moment or two of letting our guard down might give the boogeyman the opportunity it needs to get us. That’s what makes fear and anxiety so draining and often debilitating: We can’t—or maybe won’t—let it go.
This is a strange time, and we have been asked to comply with lifesaving rules that we are not accustomed to. So it makes sense that there is a collective sense of grief about depriving ourselves of so many things we love—gathering, the outdoors, hugging our parents. Sadness is a normal response to the present circumstance. But fear? Fear doesn’t have to be.
As a trainee psychologist, I have worked with fear and anxiety with most of my clients. Fear is natural. We have a tendency to anticipate and mentally overprepare for the unknown, fantasising about the worst-case scenarios and becoming overwhelmed by the number of possibilities. During this pandemic, death is that worst-case scenario. Lives have been and will be cut short by COVID-19. My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one during this pandemic. But death does not have to be the purveyor of fear: I believe that the soul is immortal and unaffected by death. That belief relieves me of fear, and it’s why I think working from our soul in the present moment is the best way to remove fear from our hearts.
The more we are tolerant, generous, kind, and forgiving in the present, the brighter our future may be. That’s why when my patients bring fear into my clinic, I encourage them to leave it there. I remind them that fear is impermanent. Maybe even optional. If we treat our fear properly, we can release it and move on.
We have the ability to change our narrative whenever we choose. If this is not something you are in the practice of doing, now is a good time to start. One of the best ways to remove unnecessary fear from your life is to become fully present. Being present means recognising everything around you—every sound, every word, every movement. If you are feeling fearful, try this simple practice to move back into the present moment:
Turn your hand over and count the wrinkles on your palm.
Look at the painting on your wall and really focus on the brushstrokes.
Listen to the lyrics of a beautiful song.
AFFIRMATIONS FOR OVERCOMING FEAR
Every morning after I wake up, I follow a ritual that helps me stay grounded and connected. For many years, I included the following affirmations in my morning practice. Find a quiet place, preferably where you can look at yourself in the mirror. If you choose, look at your reflection and focus on your eyes. Then repeat these statements slowly to yourself, five times each.
I am not afraid today.
My fear is not real.
Fear is simply an imagined narrative in my mind.
I am no longer attached to this narrative.
I am writing a new story where fear has no place.
When I am fully present, my fear goes away.
The future no longer frightens me.
I look around and see that I am surrounded by beauty.
My negative thoughts are gone.
There are so many good things happening in my life.
I am fortunate to have such abundance.
I am full of positive and loving energy.
I feel my fear slipping away.
I am on a new path where fear no longer serves me.
I will follow my heart today and enjoy my life.
Great Books To Help you On Your Journey
I have included some books for your reading list that will help you stay on track and help you to move forward from feeling the graps of anxiety and fear.
Anxiety: Panicking about Panic: A powerful, self-help guide for those suffering from an Anxiety or Panic Disorder
Anxiety Panicking about Panic is a revolutionary, self-help book for people who suffer from the various symptoms of anxiety. The book acts as an informative guide and draws from the experiences of author and counsellor, Joshua Fletcher, who lived with anxiety disorder for years before successfully overcoming the condition. The book is tailored for people who are: experiencing panic attacks, feeling abnormally anxious, ruminating about health, anticipating further panic attacks and questioning why anxiety is present in the first place. Anxiety Panicking about Panic provides quick, easy to access advice and practical strategies, which aim to educate the reader to simplify their world of anxiety in order to successfully tackle it.This book is particularly tailored for people who can associate with the conditions of:- Anxiety- Anxiety Disorder- Generalized Anxiety- Panic Disorder- Agoraphobia- Health Anxiety- Panicking for no reason- Panic Attacks (and anxiety about them happening again)
The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, a Calmer You
This is a book for anyone experiencing anxiety, guiding you through simple ways to ease panic, dread and fear in the uncertainty of modern life.
The Anxiety Solution is a simple and inspiring guide to reducing anxiety from former sufferer and qualified clinical hypnotherapist, and host of The Calmer You podcast, Chloe Brotheridge.
Chloe will help you understand why we feel anxious and will equip you with techniques to help manage the symptoms and start living a happier, more confident life.
The Anxiety Journal: Exercises to soothe stress and eliminate anxiety wherever you are
While some forms of anxiety are natural, even helpful, anxiety disorders can lead you into a spiral of stress and worry, and interfere with your everyday life.
Practical, supportive and uplifting, this is a journal for anyone who struggles with anxiety, whether in the form of phobias, social anxiety, generalized anxiety (GAD) or day-to-day worrying. Beautifully illustrated by Marcia Mihotich, The Anxiety Journal by Corinne Sweet encourages you to use CBT techniques and mindfulness exercises to help you better understand your anxiety and help you to achieve peace and calm.
Whether you're awake at 4am unable to turn off those racing thoughts, or struggling to get yourself together before a presentation, The Anxiety Journal will help to soothe stress and reduce worry, identify negative thought-cycles, and provide you with techniques to combat anxiety wherever you are.
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A new conversation about anxiety
If you love someone who is anxious, this book is for you.
I Quit Sugar founder and New York Times bestselling author Sarah Wilson has lived through high anxiety – including bipolar, OCD and several suicide attempts – her whole life. Perhaps like you, she grew tired of seeing anxiety as a disease that must be medicated into submission. Could anxiety be re-sewn, she asked, into a thing of beauty?
So began a seven-year journey to find a more meaningful and helpful take on anxiety. Living out of two suitcases, Sarah travelled the world, meeting with His Holiness The Dalai Lama, with Oprah’s life coach, with major mental health organizations and hundreds of others in a quest to unravel the knotted ball of wool that is the anxious condition. She emerged with the very best philosophy, science and hacks for thriving with the beast.
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is a book with a big heart, paving the way for richer, kinder and wiser conversations about anxiety.
Remember that fear is not yours to keep. Open your heart and set it free. Send it back to the darkness from where it came, and it will no longer rule your life. Right now, it may seem like there is fear everywhere, but it doesn’t have to find its way inside of you (or at least if it does, it doesn’t have to stay there for very long).
Every day, we are witnessing profound acts of courage that are slowing the impact of this virus. The heroes on the front lines are demonstrating the extraordinary and boundless capacity of the human spirit. While there are certainly great losses, there are small victories everywhere, too. I am not surprised—everyday people are also our bravest leaders. You can be brave as well. There is that strength within you.
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