If you greatly desire something, have the guts to stake everything on obtaining it.
Fear shackles the mind, navigating the sock drawer becomes a Nobel laureate feat. I frequently advise patients who present racked with anxiety that fear is not logical. One cannot talk themselves out of fear, nor can a friend coach you through or away from fear. Fear is the psychological equivalent of a bug zapper at a KOA camp ground. Once fear presents itself, we are drawn to it. Like a black hole vortex, resistance is often futile; fighting fear often escalates it.
I have learned to let fear just come. I think my fear is the adult equivalent of a toddler’s temper tantrum. Often, it coalesces out of nowhere without solicitation or trigger. And fear doesn’t leave until it’s done fucking with you. I know that trying to negotiate with fear provokes it. Trying to run from it simple antagonizes it; it shifts from stalking you languidly to a full throttle assault. And…at least for me….fear loathes passivity. No playing possum, fear ain’t fooled. So, you pony up, plant you feet and face the music. It doesn’t make sense, it’s not logical and it won’t be denied. Fear arises when I doubt myself, when I doubt my purpose, my value, my desires. And once doubt is seeded….anxiety and fear grow, replicating like a virulent strain of bacteria.Like any fever, you have to wait until it breaks.
There is a clarity after a struggle with fear. I am reminded of these things:
1. Why avoid fear? Accept fear. It is just an emotion, no different than joy or gratitude or satisfaction.Accepting my own fear is equal to accepting my joy. I desire joy and so I shall accept fear. I want the good stuff, so the counteraction is that I get the bad stuff too.
2. When the good stuff shows up unannounced like its second cousin Fear, I need to make just as big a deal. Laugh as loud as I cry. Celebrate as much as I panic. Thrill in the joy as much as I wallow in the dread.
3. Acknowledge the value of adversity. Sour vinegar will convert a bland cucumber into a tangy, crunchy pickle. A pearl is the result of irritating friction caused by a grain of sand. A diamond forms after long and tremendous pressure. If I want to be a brilliant diamond, then I have to withstand the pressure. I cannot wish myself into a diamond and everyone knows the difference between cubic zirconium and a true diamond.
4. When you can catch your breath, BREATHE. Inhale and exhale. Focus on the simple sensations. Taste, smell, touch, feel, move, listen and see. Then intentionally blind yourself, deprive your senses, be silent. Silence your world, contract your space. Limit your contacts. It is a sensory detox. Return to sensations that soothe: a playlist that triggers the desired Pavlovian outcome, a lavender soap or a special tea. Pajamas or fresh sheets that comfort. Focus on your physical space and get out of your head. While fear is in residence, it’s best to vacate the premises anyways. Eat simply and modestly. Drink minimally, alcohol is a possible tempering agent but can prolong the Occupy Fear event.
5. When the storm is over take inventory and acknowledge all that you did to minimize the impact. It’s like hurricane preparedness. Congratulate yourself for being prepared and storm ready. If you battened down the hatches, kept all your important documents dry and had provisions for the onslaught: Kudos! You did good, baby. Be proud. And if you did it this time, you’re ven better prepared for the next time. Accept that there will be a next time.
6. The intervals between Occupations can be spaced and lengthened. It requires daily honesty with yourself. Acknowledge the micro-fears. Do not avoid or shun fear. It creates a false sense of security. Remember, fear is like joy. If we are cool with Joy showing up daily unannounced…..we have to realize the potential for Fear to crash the party.
7. Feeling beats numbness everyday. While in the midst of a fear storm, we beg for anesthesia and numbness…it is an awful thing. Life…a genuine life, the AUTHENTIC life…..means you FEEL it. A true life is cognitive, intuitive, engaged and intentional. You step into Life and live it.