How many goals have you given up because of the fear of not achieving them?
You know that bad, almost paralyzing feeling, so strong that it sometimes rules you? When the horror rushes down your spine, and your knees shake at the very thought of what you are afraid of? When you suddenly feel weakness and nausea, and the worst-case scenario goes through your head. Your heart starts beating fast, and you try your best to distract your thoughts. Terrible feeling, right?
So, how to focus on overcoming fear?
By avoiding facing the truth, the fear only grows and becomes greater. If it is not resolved in time, it begins to affect all spheres of life. Then the fear of the fear develops, and you become a hostage of that horrible feeling.
How To Stop Fighting And Start Overcoming Fear?
Like any other feeling, fear survives if you fight it because emotions and thoughts are transient in nature. Do you know that even very intense feelings last up to a maximum of 90 seconds if you do not resist them if you allow yourself to experience them without resistance?
The more you resist fear or some other inner experience, the more persistent and stronger the feeling. Resistance means non-acceptance, not allowing the fear to be felt, experienced. Resisting fear takes place on both a mental and physical level. So, both levels need to be addressed when you are determined to start overcoming fear.
What Is Overcoming Fear At A Physical Level?
At the physical level, a person opposes the changes by tightening the abdomen, legs, lifting the shoulders, tightening the muscles of the neck, shoulders or nape, etc. In addition, the person restricts breathing, does not breathe deeply enough, does not exhale completely, breathes only in the upper or only the lower part of the chest, breathes intermittently, quickly, etc.
If you want to give up the fight and start overcoming fear, that is, to stop resisting it, pay attention to your body when fear arises. Become aware of the body and notice if you are squeezing somewhere where you feel tension, cramps, discomfort in the body.
Then relax that part of the body. You can do this consciously because all the skeletal muscles are under the influence of your will. You can soften them willingly. Lower your shoulders if they are raised, relax your neck as much as possible, elevate or bend your legs, relax your abdomen, diaphragm and pelvis.
Pay Attention To Breathing
Become aware of your breathing pattern. Do you exhale completely, or do you limit your exhalation? Slow down your breathing and exhale completely. Do you take pauses between inhaling and exhaling? Is your breathing uneven and interrupted? If so, start breathing smoothly. That is, do not take pauses between inhaling and exhaling. Always exhale completely.
What Is Overcoming Fear At A Mental Level?
On a mental level, we fight fear by trying to suppress it, analyze it and delve into the terrible thoughts that are an integral part of fear (a cognitive symptom of fear), try to control those thoughts, stop or try to draw attention to some other content (distraction of attention). All of the above strategies lead to difficulties in overcoming fear and internal conflict, i.e., preventing anxiety from being experienced and released in its entirety. No one can win in resisting, and that is where the real trouble of overcoming fear is.
What To Do Instead Of Resisting Fear?
Overcoming fear is only possible if you accept, feel and release it, let it go on its own without resistance. What a person calls control is resistance to fear and not actual control. The less you fight fear, the faster it passes, and the unpleasant feelings of tension and exhaustion that are the result of that fight disappear.
If you want to succeed in overcoming fear, do not analyze, dispute, and delve into the terrible thoughts that occur along with fear (those thoughts are fear and should not be resisted). Do not try to control or drive them away, do not try to draw your attention to something else.
Instead, be aware that these thoughts are just a symptom of fear and nothing more, do not literally understand their meaning, allow thoughts to appear, come and go freely and without resistance, state their presence but do not deal with them, do not start with analyzes, imagining what it would be like if things were different, do not have an internal dialogue with yourself.
Take a distance from these thoughts and observe how they come and go, just as the feeling of fear in the body comes and goes. If you do that, you will notice that fear and terrible thoughts pass, disappear, and subside. You can achieve this only if you are in the role of an internal observer who does not try to control, suppress, understand and treat your thoughts literally.
What Does Overcoming Fear Look Like In Practice?
Imagine that a person has an obsessive thought that they will hurt someone dear to themselves?
That thought is persistent, irrational, intrusive (it imposes itself), accompanied by a feeling of fear and anxiety, and the person has the impression that they have no control over it. What can that person do when that obsessive thought occurs? The person has two options.
The first possibility is to automatically identify with that thought, understand it literally, truthfully, and start pushing it, analyzing it, or convincing oneself otherwise. In that way, the person deals with that thought, and in that way, they maintain it, pay full attention to it and give it strength, which prevents the thought and feeling of fear in the body from passing.
Every thought you do not deal with actively comes and goes, even those thoughts that are accompanied by fear or some other negative feeling. In this case, the thought resists, survives, even other similar thoughts appear, the person becomes more and more anxious, delves more and more into frightening fantasies, feels exhausted from the struggle with those thoughts and fear, and all that lasts for a relatively long time.
The second scenario is that a person recognizes and states that thought and immediately marks it as a symptom of fear, does not understand it, and does not interpret it as accurate but looks at it only as a mental expression of fear, a frightening imagination. Thanks to that, the person stops delving into the content of that thought and does not fight with it. The thought is still there, but as the person continues to observe it unanalytically, the thought begins to weaken along with the bodily feeling of fear until it finally fades. This is how overcoming fear is done.
In this scenario, fear and terrible thoughts do not last long. They even disappear after a few minutes of observation, non-interference, non-resistance, and non-identification. The person must start to apply the described strategy on time, that is, in the beginning, and not to completely get involved and sink into terrible thoughts, and only then try to distance themself from them. After the thought has receded, the person does not feel exhausted because there was no struggle. Fear came and went.
How To Know That These Thoughts Are Just A Symptom Of Fear And Nothing More?
When a person completely and without resistance accepts the sensations and starts overcoming fear, the feelings pass completely. What is extraordinary in this situation is that if the person again consciously focuses on these thoughts, the sense of fear no longer appears.
Although this whole procedure is simple, its application in practice is not when a person only starts to apply it. Why is it like that? Because a person is used to doing the opposite and has been doing it for years, it has become an ingrained habit.
Habits do not change easily and quickly, but they can be changed gradually by regularly replacing an old, harmful habit with a new pattern that is useful and healthy. It is much easier to learn to write from right to left if you do it from the beginning than if you first learn to write from left to right and do it for years.
Another problem that arises in practice is motivation. A person who has been struggling with overcoming fear or other unpleasant feelings for years has a strong motive to avoid fear because it brings them short-term gain, that is, a feeling of immediate relief. However, in the long run, the problem is maintained and often increased.
The third reason why many fail to give up the fight with fear is impatience. They give up at the beginning, as soon as they see that they are not doing it immediately and easily. Or they do not apply the whole procedure of the council only some parts, and the fear persists, so they conclude that they cannot do that.
The fourth reason is often unconscious identification with fear. A person unconsciously refuses to overcome fear because they believe that fear makes them a weak or helpless person. No one wants to see themselves as weak or helpless. Fear never makes you weak or vulnerable, but resisting fear causes a feeling of weakness, exhaustion, and helplessness.
We achieve healing by processing negative experiences in life. We do this by learning lessons and becoming strong from them. In this way, both the soul and the body understand the experience and are ready to release the blockade, which we call fear.
It is essential to understand that fear is just another feeling. And for a start, it is necessary to recognize and accept it, like all other pleasant and unpleasant feelings. We live with fear, and while it is rational and justified, it is even helpful because it will save us from certain dangers. It is crucial to get on the path of overcoming fear. And that is how you live freely!