Have you ever been in a situation where you know you need to do something or step out of your comfort zone to achieve a goal and then clammed up? Let me tell you, you’ve been bitten by the Fear Bug and yes it’s itchy –but not if you apply the right tools.
Fear Bug bites differ from person to person but the outcome is the same – the inability to act in a manner that is beneficial to them coupled with agony of status quo or a worsening situation.
A person may be quite articulate in person but ask him to call someone on the telephone and procrastination sets in. Some of us suffer from stage fright or feel awkward introducing ourselves at networking events. I personally had to deal with the fear bug as a child when the needle used to give me a Yellow Fever injection got lodged in my arm and the nurse did not notice it until my sister pointed it out. Thus began my tryst with Fear Bug Fever with future nurses having to chase me around the clinic with a syringe in hand. In time, I overcame my fear which was very real while it lasted.
We all get bitten at some point or the other and while it is good to have some fear and adrenalin rush, too much or unmanageable fear can prevent us from seeing the problem or issue in the right perspective and taking the required decisions and actions.
This week’s post is dedicated to my top 5 tools to combat the Fear Bug. I welcome more suggestions in the comments box to help readers who find themselves with similar problems.
Tool #1 Ask yourself – what’s the worst thing that could happen?
Just a simple question – What’s the worst thing that could happen?
This question, also called the Dale Carnegie Technique is a powerful method to confront fear where having identified your fear, you list out all the things that could go wrong and check if you can handle them if they happen. The key here is that by acknowledging the worst possible scenario, you manage to reduce the magnitude of the fear thus taking the sting out of it and move forward.
In my case with the syringe, my worst case scenario was history repeating itself but I also realized that I could check my arm after the injection to make sure there was no needle.
Tool#2 Chant a mantra or affirmation
The best example of this tool that I have seen in recent times was in the movie Three Idiots where the hero would tap his heart and say “All is well” before proceeding to save the day when all felt lost.
Sometimes a bit of self-talk can help you to overcome a moment when fear is getting the upper hand. Here the chanting of the mantra or affirmation helps to calm the mind by shifting your brain waves to a more relaxed frequency. Take a page from the hero’s book and select a word or short phrase that resonates with you. Then when you feel the fear simply close your eyes and say the phrase over and over again until the fear subsides.
Tool # 3 Breath Management
Think about the last time you were stressed out or scared. Did you notice how you were breathing? Most probably the breathing would have become rapid and shallow and you would have felt as if you were being smothered.
This tool is a beginner exercise in yoga for practicing Pranayam. Simply close your right nostril with your right hand thumb and breathe deeply through the left nostril. Then cover your left nostril with your ring finger and breathe out through the right nostril. Repeat a few times and you’ll notice that you return to a calmer state.
Tool #4 Grounding
Grounding is one of my favorite tools for stress management and works well in releasing fear, anger and anxiety. There are many different ways to ground yourself which also facilitate Fear Management such as the exercises that help balance your Root and Sacral Chakras.
Another wonderful visualization technique involves walking bare foot or even with shoes on in the garden and visualizing that the soles of your feet are sprouting roots that travel down deep into the earth.
Having established your ‘roots’, now breathe deeply and with each exhale imagine that your fear is flowing down through your feet and into the earth. As you inhale, imagine that you are drawing up healing, regenerative energy from the earth into your body. Can’t go outside? No fear. Simply visualize that the roots from your feet are travelling down through the building and into the ground beneath it.
Tool # 5 Get an Objective Opinion from someone you trust
Remember the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’? Well it works for fear bug busting too.
Sometimes, the best remedy for fear is to talking about it with someone whom you trust. This could be a family member, a trusted friend or your Coach. Simply talking helps to bring the problem or fear into the correct perspective, get another person’s objective opinion and chart out a plan of action.
Please note that I said ‘another person’s objective opinion’. What this means is that choose a confidant who is open-minded, would be supportive and balanced, not one that is judgmental or overly negative and would pull you deeper into your vortex of fear. What you desire is insights and perspectives that you might have overlooked in the throes of the fearful situation.
Bonus Tool: Use the Confrontation Technique in my post Confront and Banish Your Fears and Weaknesses
Have you ever been bitten by the Fear Bug? Did you combat it with any of my top tools or another one in your toolbox? Please do share with me in the comments box below!
Written By: Vatsala Shukla
Photo Credit: Tube by Gustavo Renzende