“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” – Henry Ford
Fear is an inherent instinct that almost every human has. It’s a defense mechanism designed to protect us from potentially dangerous situations. However, as we’ve evolved into modern beings, many of us have developed a natural, overwhelming aversion to people, places or things as they tend to elicit fear or anxiety. Fear can easily be triggered by more than just an immediate physical threat.
And it’s little wonder why we feel afraid. Every day, we’re bombarded with horror stories in the form of accidents, crime, addiction, abductions, Global Warming, disease, death…
When our fear is strong, it can get in the way of our functioning at work, school, with family and friends, or in social situations – something that can be detrimental to our mental health, happiness and sense of wellbeing.
If you feel that you’ve reached a point in your life where your sense of fear and feelings of worry and anxiety are impacting your ability to function, then it may be time for you to slow down and pay attention to what’s at the root of these emotions.
While many of us automatically want to run away from, deny or avoid fear, mindfully turning toward it can be an incredible way to overcome it. Practicing mindfulness can also help you deal with how you respond to perceived threats – big or small.
By befriending your fear and anxiety, you can learn to deal with it with curiosity and grace. Fearful situations and scenarios are an inevitable part of life. So, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, the more we try to avoid fear — the stronger it becomes.
Through embracing our emotions by recognizing both fear and anxiety, we can realize that our bodies essentially respond to them in the same way. It can help us work with both our smaller moments of worry and the ones that have the potential to manifest to become big ones that can be all too overwhelming at times.
Dissecting Fear & Anxiety
The emotions we know as anxiety and fear, according to researchers, can be broken up into three interrelated processes: physiological, cognitive, and behavioral.
The physiological aspect of anxiety appears as the physical sensations. These usually include a racing heart, shortness of breath, light-headedness, sweaty palms, fatigue, shakiness, stomach distress, or the classic ‘lump in the throat’.” These effects can range from subtle to intense depending on your level of anxiety, stress and fear.
Cognitive aspects of anxiety present themselves as worried thoughts about the future; for example, if you every catch yourself imagining a disaster or moments of impending doom, and how to avoid them — like a meteor heading toward earth, your headache being a sign of brain cancer, or trying to predict if an irate client will bite your head off…
The third aspect of fear and anxiety involves avoidant behavior. Not surprisingly, most of us try to avoid unpleasant situations that may bring on distress and unwanted physiological reactions or painful thoughts. So when we’re scared or anxious, we sometimes end up avoiding activities and social situations altogether as we fear they may make us more anxious/afraid. Unfortunately, this simply reinforces the idea that the situation/event/person is actually dangerous.
Minding Your Way Through Fear
Through the regular practice of mindfulness, we can help recognize our feelings of fear and anxiety for what they are, and learn how to respond to them differently. By engaging in the present moment using mindfulness techniques, you begin to notice the familiar physical sensations, behaviors and thoughts that come with emotions of fear and anxiety. Getting to know your fear on a different level by becoming more mindful of it can take away some of its power and make it feel less threatening.
As you try to befriend your fear and anxiety through mindfulness, try to think of it as an experience… of delving into the unknown is a way that only you can control. By managing your mind’s response to fear, you can control your body’s as they work in tandem.
In time, through regular practice, you can better learn to manage those little moments of fear and anxiety as they pass through your mind, as well as the big ones that may feel overwhelming.
It’s important to remember: being afraid and anxious are natural parts of the human experience. And by choosing to befriend our emotions, you can potentially decrease your suffering.
PS: It’s also important to not only rely on mindfulness as a sole panacea for overcoming fear and anxiety. If your emotions are acute, we urge you to seek professional help.
Find out how the Hydrean can help you tap into mindfulness, and control your fear and anxiety today: www.hydrean.com.