When you’re afraid of something, you tend to have a bodily reaction to it before anything else happens. You tense up. Butterflies throw a party in your stomach. Your palms sweat.
All of that is tough to change, especially right when you that fear hits you.
Your mind, however, is a different story. When that scary thing enters your awareness, you have several options on how to handle it. Although a “fight or flight” response is typical, you can choose how you are going to guide your thoughts.
Because fear makes us uncomfortable, most people try to not think about the thing that scares them. They’ll distract or pacify themselves in some other way so they don’t have to feel as much discomfort.
Some people do everything they can to confront that fear in the moment; to focus all their energy and attention on that thing, clench their muscles grit their teeth, and hope it disappears. That’s a great way to get a hernia.
But here’s another suggestion. It’s based in Buddhist thinking and Eastern meditation. When you become aware of your fear, take no further action. Sit with it. Remain aware of it. Know that it’s there, but don’t run nor confront it. Just allow it to exist in your consciousness, and allow yourself to settle in with whatever happens next.
This won’t necessarily solve the problem or rid you of that fear in the moment. But the point is: That’s Okay. You’re learning to exist, consciously, with discomfort. It takes some practice, but you’d be amazed what you can do when you get this practice down.
How do you think champion athletes can play on broken bones and sprained ankles? Or people held at gunpoint can negotiate their way out of the situation?
Learn to stay present in the face of your fears, and you’ll be better prepared to overcome them as time goes on.