Mentorship February 17, 2017
Everybody has fears and nobody really wants to deal with them. Fear is an all-consuming force that freezes your blood, stops you in your track and can take your mind to impossible and irrational places. However, understanding fear can be one of the first steps in conquering it.
In fact, men and women who are fully in tune with their minds and emotional health can slowly rid themselves of fear through mindfulness, therapy and other techniques.
Ready to go from fearful to fabulous? ENTITY spoke with certified professional co-active life coach Stephanie Napoli of Be Alive Coaching to learn more about how fear impacts people’s everyday lives. Here are seven steps to overcome fear once and for all.
Napoli explains that every person feels fear – though we are often loath to admit it. Whether it’s presenting at work, asking out your crush or even leaving the house, we all feel fear on different levels.
How is it manifested?
“Often the way fear manifests in our bodies is an inability to be in the moment,” says Napoli. “Our emotions are uncomfortable, so we try to be anywhere but in the sensation. We use caffeine, sugar, the Internet or get ourselves increasingly busy-busy…anything to not drop fully into the discomfort of our mind’s fearful, anxious state.”
Fear is both healthy and important, asserts Napoli. While fear causes our fight or flight responses to kick in during moments of danger, fear has a much more sophisticated purpose in our modern lives.
“Fear helps us to design our lives in a way that doesn’t regularly overwhelm us,” says Napoli. “Fear points us to our deep, often hidden triggers, which are areas of our psyche that need resolution and healing and a new, healthy perspective. Experiencing fear tells us that something is wrong and gives us an opportunity to grow.”
After learning that we not only all feel fear, but that it’s a healthy part of being human, it’s time to take a step back and acknowledge your own fears.
Napoli suggests asking yourself a few questions, such as: Why am I feeling this way? What part of this fear is rational and what part of it is not? What part of this fear is in my control and what part isn’t? How do I need to handle this situation moving forward?
If you find that your fears are often irrational, Napoli suggests “tak[ing] time to deal with it, to allow the emotion to flow, then engage your brain. Once you’ve found this healthy perspective, you might give yourself a mantra or post something on your wall to remind you to stay in this perspective.”
According to Northern Illinois University, fear and anxiety are often reactions to a past traumatic event. As you start to feel less in control of your life, “your perception about safety, sense of the world you live in, and your beliefs about life are all questioned and the ground you walk on no longer feels solid … As a result of your experience, you now believe the world is not safe and your body is on steady alert.”
Napoli agrees with these findings, explaining: “Most debilitating fear points to a traumatizing event in someone’s life, an event or series of events that overwhelmed the person’s capacity to respond, and therefore remains unresolved.” However, Napoli also believes that being aware of possibly troubling memories can help you better understand the source of your fear. “One way to identify your own areas of trauma, large and small, is to identify any past event that continues to feel sensitive or evoke strong emotion,” she says.
“When we become aware of our anxiety the best thing to do is to make space to feel in a way that is comfortable and safe,” Napoli advises. Take some time for yourself and just relax. Listen to some music, eat some nourishing soup or spend time with your friends. If you want some added stress-reducing benefits, studies suggest that you might even explore singing or listening to classical music, making art or watching a comedy with friends.
The goal of these activities is to “feel the waves of emotion come over us, experiencing the sensations of it directly without giving it any meaning or thinking about it,” says Napoli. “Ideally, we try to observe the emotion without overly identifying with it. We are not our thoughts. We are not our emotions. We observe the impersonal sensations on our body and let them wash over us.”
Now that you’ve acknowledged your fear and assessed the underlying problem, it’s time to take action to defeat it. Napoli suggests meditation and yoga, which she says “invite you to observe how your mind operates in a completely calm environment while giving you the opportunity to experiment with ways to ‘breathe through the fear,’ move more gently and compassionately through life and hold particular perspectives or mantras that help you deal with fear as it arises.”
In addition, therapy or coaching are always good options for those who need professional help.
Now that you’ve made it through six steps, it’s time to reflect on your progress. “Once the waves of emotion die down, we can re-engage our minds in a clearer, more grounded state,” says Napoli.
So how can we maintain this new state of mental and emotional health?
Napoli advises, “Practicing a regular self-care routine will keep you even-keeled, and developing your ability to be mindful and aware will help you get to know yourself – your values and triggers and patterns – so you can create a life of peace and resonance that is uniquely, comfortably and exquisitely you.”
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