Three Ways to Tackle Fear
I don’t know about you, but my mind can run rampant with worry if I’m not careful. The “what if’s” can pile up like a mountain of dirty clothes before the ever-dreaded laundry day.What if I fail? What if people don’t like what I’m saying? What if I’m all alone? What if my kids get hurt? What if, what if . . . what if.
The possibilities are endless.
Relationship researcher and best-selling author, Shaunti Feldhahn, writes in her book, The Kindness Challenge, “We can’t feed fear (aka: worry) and then complain that we’re anxious and stressed! We’ve got to look for and confront the ways we are causing the very anxiety we wish we didn’t have.”
Isn’t that the truth of the matter? We have to evaluate our lives and thought patterns—where is the worry coming from? What are the stories we are telling ourselves? And sometimes the hardest question of all: Are they true?
We can all lower our stress levels and decrease our constant worry by following these three simple strategies:
1. Own it.
In order to move past our worry, we must ownit. It’s time to name it for what it really is. Search for the core emotion you are feeling right this moment.
· guilt (I did a bad thing)
· or shame (I am a bad person)?
Is it something different? What are you feeling in your body? Where does the worry sit? Whatever it is, the most important step is to identify it. Once we name it, we are empowered—and can start making choices.
2. Evaluate it.
This is where you ask yourself if it’s even true. Look for any supporting evidence that makes it true (or false).
For example:“The story I am telling myself is . . . that my supervisor at work is upset with me. I walked by her this morning, smiled, and said ‘hello,’ but she didn’t respond and just walked right by me. I’m starting to worry that I’ve done something wrong.”
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I have any evidence that my boss is upset with me? No.
Have I done anything that would cause her to be upset with me? Not that I know of.
Is it possible that she had a bad morning, is in deep thought, or upset at something herself? Yes.
3. Replace it.
Once you have figured out the truth, it’s time to start replace those lies. Don’t let those false thoughts keep popping up. If they do, imagine yourself knocking them down like you’re playing whack-a-mole at Chuck E. Cheese. We can’t always stop the thoughts from popping up, but we can stare them in the face and replace them with truth when they rear their ugly heads.
In this scenario, it would look like this: “I don’t have any reason to believe my supervisor is upset with me. It’s very likely that her short engagement was not about me. If I’m wrong, I’ll be prepared to receive her feedback and move on.”
When we let worry run rampant, unchecked or unevaluated in our minds, we are setting the stage for deeper anxiety or even depression. Make sure you’re telling yourself the truth, so you can live in freedom.
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