Oct 312012

Do you have a fear that’s holding you back?

I want to share with you some tools I’ve used to overcome my own fears.

First, take a moment to think of one of your own, so you can immediately see how these tools can be applied. If you need some help, here are some juicy ones: fear of rejection, fear of getting hurt in a relationship, fear of public speaking, fear of flying, etc.

For me, a big one is my To Do list–basically not being able to do everything I expect of myself as well as I expect myself to do it.  So for me using these steps means letting go of my expectations for what I can do in a given day, which can be a big challenge for me. What’s yours?

Step 1: Clearly Identify the Fear

It’s really important that you notice and admit to your fear, because it’s internal and easy to hide–even from yourself.

Most of us are masters at hiding our inner fears. No one can see our thoughts, and the actions we take to deal with our fears. There isn’t necessarily anyone to hold us accountable. So it’s really important to be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable. That starts with admitting your fear and noticing how you handle it.

At this stage, give yourself a number from one to ten that describes how much fear you feel. Some people use a scale from 1 to 100, which gives more variability. But I like 1 to 10, because I think it’s less overwhelming. Use a scale that you feel comfortable with. This number is your baseline.

Step 2: Notice How You Respond

Now that you’ve identified your fear, notice how you respond to it.

There are 4 basic ways people tend to respond to fear, and none of these ways work in the long term. They all provide short term relief, but they create an addictive cycle. When you start to feel fear and anxiety, it’s a very uncomfortable feeling, so your first impulse is to decrease that feeling. These strategies make you feel better for a little bit, but then that uncomfortable feeling comes back…

Here are some ways you might respond:

1) Avoidance

2) Reassuring yourself it can’t possibly happen or asking others for reassurance

3) Forcing yourself to relax–maybe by meditating, listening to soft music or taking a hot bath (this works if your anxiety is low, but if it’s high you will most likely just find yourself frustrated that you can’t relax!)

4) Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol

Step3: Expose Yourself to Your Fear

The best way to dampen your fear down is to become bored with it. And you will become bored with it if you allow yourself to really feel all the anxiety and discomfort of your fear. Instead of avoiding your fear, you want to rush towards it, embrace it,  and invite it in for tea.

Here are some ways you can expose yourself to your fear:

1) Do it anyway. Take an action towards whatever your afraid of. Your action could be public speaking, introducing yourself to someone you don’t know, reading an article on a topic that freaks you out, taking a flight if you’re afraid of flying…

2) Imagine doing it. If your fear is something you can’t realistically do right now (like take a flight) or you don’t feel ready to confront your fear, you can always start with a visualization.

3) Create your Horror Story.  Write down your worst case scenario coming true.  This is scary, but it can also be a  funny way to start laughing at your fear. If you’re afraid of public speaking you can write a story about how you spilled something on your dress as you walked out on stage, forgot what you planned to say, and watched as thousands of people begin booing and leaving. Read this story to yourself over and over again for days until you become bored with it. It *will*eventually become boring and you will no longer feel an anxious reaction (or at least a weaker one) when you read it or think about it. You can also record your horror story as an audio recording and listen to yourself read it over and over again.

As you expose yourself to your fear, give yourself a number on a scale from 1 to 10. Your number will probably be higher as you begin exposing yourself to your fear, and you will probably feel worse for awhile–that’s normal.  It does get worse before it gets better.  This process of becoming bored with your fear can take a few days to a few months. Stick with it. You will get bored.

Step 4: Let it go

As you fully feel the emotion of fear and anxiety, it can be tempting to fall into a mental loop of worrying. Don’t go there. Feel the physical emotions fully, but do what you have to do to face your fear and move on. This is not avoidance, but keeping yourself from getting stuck.   Continue to rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 and over time you will see this number go down.

You can get started facing a fear right now by leaving a comment and sharing a fear you can use these steps to work through *OR* share one of your tips for dealing with fear.


Feb 142012

I completely believe processing emotions can improve physical health. In our culture, we tend to view physical ailments as problems to be solved with medication.  It’s becoming more popular to look at diet, but even then we’re not always getting to the root cause.  I recently read an article about how diet can affect migraines, but only when somebody is under stress.  Meaning that certain foods are more likely to cause a migraine when someone is stressed, but if you remove the stress, they can eat anything and not get a migraine.

I’ve always suspected that I’m particularly sensitive to emotions affecting me physically. Everyone seems to have a certain physical weakness, a way that your body tells you it’s not happy.  It could be digestive, psoriasis, migraines/headaches, acne, too much/too little appetite, being susceptible to the flu, etc.  For me, it’s my stomach. If I’m too lost in my thoughts or ignoring my emotions and instincts, my stomach will find a way to tell me.  I can even give you a personal example that drives this point home.

Continue reading »

Jan 172012

Have you ever had an experience, emotion, or altered state of being that you just couldn’t explain?

Maybe you enjoyed it in the moment and then brushed it off later, trying to rationalize it…

I want to create a space here to acknowledge and honor experiences that are difficult to explain.  I know I’ve definitely had experiences that I can’t completely explain that have caused profound shifts in my life.  And I’ve also had some that just feel mystical even if they don’t seem to have any meaning at all.

I recently decided that it is important to honor these experiences and emotional shifts and acknowledge them even if we can’t explain them. In fact, it may be better if we don’t even bother trying to explain them, but simply honor the direct experience.

I want to bring awareness to the importance of honoring the full range of unexplainable mystical experiences to complete acceptance of all emotions as they flow, and everything in between.


So what exactly is a mystical experience?

Continue reading »

Dec 122011

Perfectionism is a sneaky little devil that can wreak havoc on your life if you’re not aware of it!

Last weekI shared how perfectionism has been an issue for me, and why it’s important to get it under control.

This week I’m sharing with you my favorite tools to keep perfectionism from getting in the way.

Step 1) Assess Your Perfectionism

If you’re a perfectionist, you probably already know it. But what you may not be aware of is the degree to which your standards are unrealistic or how this could be getting in your way specifically.

One reason this is true, is because perfectionists tend to pay attention to experiences that confirm their beliefs and ignore information that does not support them. We tend to remember mistakes rather than successes, and are more likely to interpret ambiguous/neutral information in a way that supports our beliefs.

So to get started, we really want to take a look at our perfectionistic thoughts and behaviors and explore them–really get to know them.

Continue reading »

Nov 152011

Last week, I shared with you how toxic guilt can affect all of us–ESPECIALLY those of us who enjoy helping others.

It’s one of those emotions that can become stagnant and block us from manifesting our dreams, so it’s really important to get this one under control!

The first step is knowing the difference between healthy guilt (which motivates us to improve ourselves) and toxic guilt (which harms us by keeping us feeling crappy and stuck).

Just knowing the difference between the two and being able to untangle them is already empowering! If you missed last week’s blog post about this, you can check it out here.

In this post I want to share with you some tools for processing toxic guilt.

I found this amazing 5 step approach in a book by Susan Carrell called “Escaping Toxic Guilt” which I’ve adapted for my blog here.

So here they are…

Continue reading »