In the last article we discussed how fear arises, where it comes from, and how to begin asking questions of it. We also learned how to counter our fears by questioning our questions and doubting our doubts. In this article we will discover two means of looking at fear in such a way that even if your fears are valid, when seeing them in this light, they are completely disarmed.
So far we’ve learned to question our fears. When fear says, “What if something bad happens?” We try to counter with, “Well what if something good happens?” But this doesn’t always work. Questioning your fear is a useful technique to be used as the first line of defense. It’s the first blow you strike against fear and if your fears amount to little more than unsubstantiated paranoia in the back of your mind, then simply questioning them will shoot’em down.
However, your fears aren’t always unfounded. Sometimes the things you fear are very real possibilities. For instance, if you’ve been laid off and you have no savings, your fear may start with, “You don’t have enough money to pay the mortgage. What are you going to do when the bank forecloses on you?”
In this situation you can’t counter with, “Well what if the bank doesn’t foreclose on us?” If you can’t pay your mortgage, they’re gonna know. You’re not gonna sneak a nonpaying account passed bankers, I mean, c’mon they’re bankers. If ya don’t have the green, ya can’t keep the scene. So, questioning the occurrence of this fear does no good, because if you can’t pay, then they will foreclose.
So what do we do? Should we lie down and die? Roll over and say uncle? NO! We break out our fear busting arsenal and employ another strategy and tactic. Our next strategy is also one of the most radical, mentally.
Strategy # 2: FOLLOW YOUR FEAR TO ITS LOGICAL EXTREMES
Keeping with our current example. You got laid off. It came outta nowhere and you couldn’t even see it coming. You went to work one day and damn… the building was roped off. You begin to fear what will happen without a job and the first thing that crops up is your impending homelessness. Your mind begins racing and before you know it visions of being cold, dirty and holding cardboard sign flood your mind. You begin to panic and your fear impaired problem skills desperately search for a solution conjuring ideas running the gamut from getting another job as fast as you can, to hitting up your ex for money, to taking out a loan from your bank, and a hop skip and a jump later you can see yourself robbing the bank! STOP!
Wait… take a few deep breaths… inhale… exhale…in between the breathing in and the breathing out, you can find the still point of the mind. Inhale…hold…feel everything stop…exhale… It’s not that bad yet. The whirlwind of panic and chaos in your mind comes from your very resistance to the reality that is before you. You’re afraid of not having a job, because it (may) lead to not having money, which in turn (may) lead to a whole host of fears and concerns which may or may not even come to pass.
One of the reasons fear is so dangerous, is because it is so debilitating. Fear completely arrests real rational thought, leaving you scrambling for a way to end the discomfort and avoid the pain you think is coming. What we’re going to do, is disarm fear by accepting and identifying with what is happening and then we’re going to sit down and follow it, then when we’ve followed our fear as far as we can go, we’re not going to try to fix it, or avoid it, we’re going to embrace it, welcome it, and even learn to look forward to the disaster to come.
WHAT!? I don’t want to be homeless, what about my kids? My grandmother is sick– stop. Breathe. We don’t actually want the worst case scenario to happen (It might though), but if we’re going to find a solution to the issue we have to make a mental detour first. We need to regain our senses. You can’t think logically when you’re all hopped up on Fear. To solve our issue, we need to banish fear first, and then free from fear we can solve the issue. It’s kind of a catch 22, but if the pattern has to start somewhere, let it begin with the one thing we can control, ourselves.
So start this way, and I suggest writing your thoughts down so you can stay focused, fear can really grab ya by the horns.
I lost my job. Why is that bad?
Because I won’t have any money and I can’t pay my bills and I’ll end up on the street.
And why is that bad?
Because I’ll be cold and hungry and I don’t want my kids on the street with the bums and criminals and such. We’ll have to panhandle for loose change and it will be humiliating and depressing.
Is this as far as we can go? Is that about the worst it can get? I mean your homeless on the street right… we can branch off from here and envision a life of crime to make ends meet, or the kids growing up to be panhandlers and such. But that would be so far down the road after hitting rock bottom. I think ending up homeless is far enough.
We’ve followed the fear to a logical extreme. Now if you’re already thinking, “Don’t you have family you can stay with, or government agencies and such…?” You’re ahead of the game. In the midst of fear our minds don’t always think rationally like that. Reading a blog entry about fear and dealing with it are two different things. So hold on we’ll get there. Once we’ve played everything out we’ll employ–
Fear Fighting Tactic #2: ACCEPT THE WORST CASE SENARIO.
Ending up as a homeless panhandler with kids. That’s pretty bad. But supposing for the sake of sanity, I asked you to write down three good things about becoming a panhandler with kids.
1 Well, I would have LOTS of free time and it would give me more than enough time to look for work or spend time with my kids. After all, we don’t have to be on the street, literally. There are city parks and forests and such. We can go there and just be together, which is something we never seem to be able to do at the house with my work schedule and all.
2 Food isn’t that expensive. Being homeless would suck to be sure, but not paying a mortgage, utilities, and cable and all the other expenses ‘that come with’ a house, I’ll have a fair amount of money to live on from the last couple of paychecks. I mean really how much is a couple of apples, oatmeal, veggies from the supermarket anyway. I could at least hold out till I get something going again.
3 It might be kind of fun. I had always wanted to go traveling and being homeless would give me the ultimate excuse to just pack up the car with the kids and some basic supplies and drive to a city of my choosing. I could reinvent myself there. Sure it’d take some doing, but hey, if I’m homeless, then it can’t get much worse, so why not do something? So many things have already gone wrong what’s the worst that could happen?
With these things in mind, you can begin calming down, getting a hold of yourself and maybe even looking forward to the storm. Once calm, we can begin searching for solutions so that these fears don’t come to pass. But we had to calm ourselves first, so we can get thinking in a positive and productive direction.
When you’ve figured out what the worst case scenario is and you make peace with it, then fear has no hold over you. After you’ve accepted that this terrible thing could happen and you’ve come up with a little game plan of how to make the best of that situation, fear releases its grip on you and you are then able to be free from its effects. Thus unencumbered, you will be able to develop solutions to prevent or minimize the damage of your situation.
Well boys and girls, I hopped this information serves you well. Next time you’re feeling afraid of a situation in life, remember to mentally follow it as far as you can logically to its absolute worst possible effect. Then, when you get to that point, find a way to make the disaster you see ‘ok.’ You may not want it to happen, but allow yourself to see a way in which you could be comfortable if it did. I think you’ll find your valid fears much easier to manage this way and problem solving will be easier after you’ve mentally prepared. In the next article we’ll take a look at some of the more offensive tactics you can employ to fight fear.
On to article 4