Living with fear
Fear. Whether it paralyzes us, makes us want to run away or turns us into a dragon, it can seem uncontrollable and leave us with no way to react.
Maybe for you, it is that voice that keeps whispering in your ears that you're never good enough and that the world is cruel, hostile, and that you need to think a thousand times before doing anything, even if it is just choosing your morning clothes.
Maybe for you, fear is felt as pain, tension in the body, as having a constant tightness in your breathing, a feeling of tiredness that never leaves you.
Maybe for you it is more than that, it is simply nothingness in your mind, a feeling of being present without really being present. To survive rather than to live. To have a feeling of emptiness so deep that you can't even recognize and hear the signals of distress that your mind and your body can send you.
Whatever manifestations fear may take, its consequences remain the same: it blurs your vision and takes you away from the wonderful feeling we all seek to experience: peace.
A permanent feeling of fear, in fact, never lets you rest: you have to be constantly on your guard to make sure you don't make a wrong move, don't disappoint, don't fail, don't be judged... Yes. It's exhausting. Because even moments of rest are not really moments of pause anymore, because, as you may have discovered, when our mind goes into overdrive, it doesn't care if we want to sleep, take a nap or enjoy a good time with friends.
If we let the mind go about its business, fear will continue to rock our lives. But, if we decide to listen carefully, what could happen? If it does not stop sending us signals, it is perhaps that it tries to send us messages? Indeed, who says fear, says DANGER! But is there really one? Well, it is our responsibility to find out! But how?
Face your fears to be able to fight them
The more your emotions, your states of mind remain buried, the more power they will have over you. The ignorance of the origin of our fears amplifies the intensity of its signals. If they are there, it is only to protect us from fear, to warn us about potential risks that could harm us. To determine and understand the nature of these messages, the first step is to be aware of them, to highlight the reasons for these fears so that we can act on them!
You might want to ask me now: "But how can I do that? I always have a billion thoughts at the same time". It's normal that it's confusing, messy, that is exactly what happens in the mind. But if they remain hidden, they will always have the power to make you believe what they want, because there is no filtering: everything that is said is integrated and believed. On the other hand, if the thoughts are expressed, heard orally and/or visible in writing, then it is much more obvious to play the role of judge and evaluate the credibility of your thoughts step by step.
So let's decide to finally face them: I become aware of the words that are expressed in my mind and its influence on my emotions and behaviors.
E.g.: when every morning I tell myself that I suck -> I start to feel sick to my stomach and sad -> I observe that this automatically impacts my energy level and my motivation to undertake my day.
Stop feeding those fears
We are now aware of what is going on mentally and how this thought-emotion-behavior loop turns. What we want to do now is to deconstruct this conditioning. Just because we know that certain thoughts/beliefs are not rational does not mean they will disappear. Anything that is familiar to the mind is comfortable: it will continue to send us the same messages. So how do we break this loop?
- First belief to deconstruct: an emotion is not dangerous. It is not because I feel unpleasant symptoms (e.g.: a lump in my stomach, a rapid heartbeat, inability to concentrate) that there is a real danger. These are only temporary psycho-emotional manifestations. If you try to remember your past experiences, you will see that there are no real dangerous consequences each time.
- Second belief to deconstruct: what you feel is not necessarily the truth. An emotion is by definition a surge of energy that brings about cognitive, somatic and behavioral changes. E.g.: when I am very angry, I may believe that the person I am with is a monster and that I must absolutely defend myself at all costs, even if it means becoming violent. We have here a total forgetfulness of the context of the reality of this situation. New rule: never believe your thoughts when you are emotionally activated.
- Third belief to deconstruct: you do not have to be a slave to your thoughts and emotions. Certainly, some thoughts and emotions are automatic (in the sense that they can appear very quickly and escape your awareness) but this does not mean that you can't do anything about them. Self-awareness allows you to develop this mental flexibility and to get used to getting out of this autopilot mode in order to shift your attention and especially your means of responding to them. There are various ways to do this: challenge your thoughts in a Socratic way, write in a diary, talk to someone you trust, go to the gym, paint, do meditation and much more. But beware: not all techniques work for everyone in the same way and especially not all techniques are suitable for all types of situations. What matters is to be able to find resources in your daily life that really make you feel good.
How to work on these three points?
By working on self-knowledge and understanding and/or by undertaking therapeutic work with a professional.
Dina Paradise offers you both of these alternatives. You can discover a lot of educational content on mental health explained in a simple and clear way through our awareness hub. And you can also make an appointment with Dina Kassab, an integrative clinical psychologist who can guide you in this adventure.
And don't forget: the closer you get to know yourself, the more the fear will disappear.