We are born with only 2 fears
- Fear of falling
- Fear of loud noises.
All other fears result from our experiences, exposure, folklore, traditions and superstitions. All are learned responses. A child does not instinctively know that a bear is dangerous. People are not born with the fear of snakes. Whether a fear is instinctive or learned the end result however is the same. When one is exposed to something they fear the brain releases chemicals that elevate the heart rate and breathing rate. Muscles get energized and the fight-or-flight response begins to kick in. The body starts to shut down certain body functions to allow for more energy to be diverted to the muscles and organs that will be needed to respond to the fear. There is no need to be digesting food if you are preparing to run from a vicious dog that is charging your way. Merely thinking of something they fear can often times can stimulate these biological responses.
For many people their fears keep them from enjoying all that life has to offer. Most people can live without ever bungee jumping. Fear however can prevent someone from going on a plane, learning to drive and in extreme cases even going out of their home.
I recently took steps to help me overcome my fear of heights. I am not sure I am ready to go rock climbing or parasailing but I was able to go up and walk up to the windows on the observation decks of 2 of the tallest buildings in the world. I even stepped out onto a glass floor and looked down.
The following are some tools that I used to help me face my fears. I hope that they may help you or someone you know.
F – Focus
E – Evaluate
A – Acknowledge, Awareness and Affirmations
R – Reframe, Resolve and Reiki
Focus – We always think of the big fears in our lives such as my fear of falling however we all have fears of which we are not even aware. Focus on your talk and you will be surprised what you uncover. Not just your spoken word but also your silent self talk. Pay special attention words like “but” or “however” or “can’t” and really focus on what follows these words.
In the past week I have heard the following:
“I could do that but it makes me really uncomfortable.”
“That is a great idea however it is not something I feel comfortable doing.”
“ I could never travel to Europe because I would have to cross the ocean.”
Focus on your body and how your body responds to certain situations. If your heart rate starts to increase and your breathing quickens these are good indications that you are holding some form of fear. Focus on the positive and the present moment. When we dwell on our fears it accentuates our awareness and can trigger the biological responses to fear.
Evaluate – Determination is one thing but passion drives us to a whole new level of commitment. Evaluate means looking at your fear from an analytical perspective and by doing so will help you realize how your fear is affecting your life. If you see enough positive outcomes from working on removing or lessening this fear you will have greater passion towards doing something about it. Make a chart and on one side put all the things you will be able to do if you are free yourself of your fear. On the other side put what you will not be able to do. I preferred to work with the positive aspects of overcoming the fear verses dwelling on what I can not do or what I am missing out on because of my fear. Somehow keeping it in the positive seemed to provide me greater incentive but work with whatever way feels most comfortable to you. If it doesn’t feel comfortable you won’t do it and that won’t be of any help to you.
Acknowledging your fear is a big part of the “overcoming” or “coming to terms” process with your fear. When you bring your awareness (this is different than dwelling), of the fear to your consciousness it is easier for you to the take Action.
Many people are not even aware of some of their fears. Affirmations are a simple and valuable technique will provide power along with conscious determination to overcome your fear. Affirmations are short positive statements, in the present tense and finish the statement “I am” or I “have.” An example is: “I am confident and feel calm when I speak in front of a group.” Saying the affirmation is ok but it is also important to see yourself in that situation and feel it. For my fear of going to the viewpoints in these towers I said my affirmation: “I am calm and relaxed as I stare at the beautiful scenes of the city below me.” I then visualized myself looking out of the windows to the distant horizon seeing the lights of the city. I felt the experience as though it was real. My excitement at seeing such a view and sharing this experience with my husband (normally I would be in the centre of the room looking at my watch wondering how much longer until we could leave.)
Daily affirmations help to convince your body that what you are saying is true for you. Your body will begin to respond and your cells will begin to resonate with what you are saying. Even if you do not believe it start saying it. Fake it ‘til you make it. Studies have shown that even saying something and not believing it can have positive results.
Reframe, Resolve and Reiki
Affirmations, visualizations, feeling the changes you desire and evaluating the impacts on your life are steps to help you to reframe your thinking and your overall mindset. Continue to be mindful of your talk and self talk and reframe your sentences to keep them positive and clear. I also reframe my thinking by saying to myself that hundreds, thousands, millions of people have done this and have not had a problem. If it is safe for them to do then I too can do it and be safe.
Resolve to make the change. Direct your passion to change in the right direction. Start small and work your way up. If you are afraid of heights start looking at pictures taken from higher vantage points such as from bridges or hills. Say your affirmation as you visualize yourself on that bridge looking out or down or from the hill. Feel yourself actually there and feel your body responding to your affirmation. When you feel comfortable; move on to photos taken from higher vantage points. As you become more and more comfortable continue to move higher. I found that by the time I was actually in the Willis tower I was even more comfortable and confident than I thought I would be.
My final secret weapon was to do Reiki on myself. Reiki helped me to stay calm and relaxed. One thing about Reiki is that you can do it discreetly and no one knows what you are doing. I held my hands together in front of me in a casual way and no one was the wiser. I gave myself Reiki and I was comforted by the warmth I felt through my hands and on my body. I knew that Reiki would be sure to help me to Relax, Relieve stress and Rejuvenate my resolve to enjoy myself at the top of the world!