Fear can be uncomfortable and quite honestly, it can stand in the way of people living life to the fullest. Sadly, fear and the anxiety that comes with it, paralyzes people and it sometimes feels hard to breathe.
Fear is stressful and although we often recognize that our fears are irrational, it is hard to ignore. So how do we manage fear and anxiety? What causes fear to sometimes run our lives? When is it healthy versus spiraling out of control?
While these are fair questions, there are no easy answers. Unfortunately, fear is a part of life and it is impossible to avoid. This emotion is a part of the human experience and whether it is irrational or not, fear is hard to ignore.
It is important to recognize that fear can invariably be healthy and it is a natural emotion. However, fear can also lead to severe anxiety and in extreme situations panic attacks. For some, fear and panic attacks can be debilitating and can negatively impact someone’s life in ways that are hard to imagine.
I have known people who have literally felt as if they were dying while suffering a panic attack triggered by fear. Heart palpitations, chest pain, numbness and a desperate attempt to breathe were just a few of the horrible symptoms described.
As a result, fear can make it difficult for a person to live a normal life. Consequently, work, relationships and personal health can suffer. Fear can literally cripple a person and eventually, it can rob a person’s happiness, peace and joy.
Loss is a part of life yet we all fear losing those that we love. Fear of loss is natural but for some it can become irrational and sometimes spirals out of control. I have lost people I deeply cared about in tragic accidents and I myself, was in a car accident many years ago. As a result, I have a deep fear of losing people I love in an accident. And, I fear being involved in an accident and worry about something happening to me.
While these fears are understandable the anxiety and stress tend to take over my emotions and run the show. Riding as a passenger in a car is a nightmare for me and unfortunately, for whomever is driving the car. The result? Riding in a car or a boat becomes a ride to endure versus a relaxing trip to enjoy.
Equally challenging are the worries and concerns for the safety of my children, husband, family or friends when traveling. Rationally, I know that life is a gift and that so much of what happens is completely out of our control. I try to embrace each moment and want my loved ones to do the same. There are no guarantees and yet, if I truly think about it, my anxiety and the fear of losing any one of them is hauntingly real.
Some will say that it is post traumatic stress caused by those tragic losses in the past. While this may be true, the bigger question for any one of us facing paralyzing anxiety and fear, is how do we manage it and keep it from stealing peace and happiness? How do we stop worrying about something that may never happen? And, how can we let go and embrace every moment we have with those we love?
Every person on this planet will experience fear. Some of them will be natural and might even serve you well. In contrast, some of those fears will be irrational and can create barriers to living a happy and comfortable life.
Regardless of what those fears are there are important points to remember when fear finds its way into your life.
- Fear is healthy. It is important to recognize that while fear can paralyze you, it can also help you. Fear is normal and it also can lead to that fight or flight mode that ultimately can save your life. Most humans are born with a gut instinct and it is often fear that leads people to react when in danger. It does not have to paralyze you but can sometimes propel you to take action or to avoid those things in life that are not necessarily right.
- Understanding fear can be helpful. It is difficult to manage or change something if you do not understand it. Again, there may be a good reason. Take the time to truly dig deep and try to determine what is causing your anxiety. Perhaps something happened to you or someone you love. Past tragedies, experiences or events can lead to fears and while they may be irrational, those emotions are real. Sometimes it is important to seek professional help to reduce anxiety.
- Face your fears. While this can be scary, it is important to face them. This is not easy and it can be extremely difficult. However, finding the courage to face a fear can be therapeutic, empower and build confidence. You might be surprised at the amazing opportunities that appear when you face your fears and open new doors.
- Fears are sometimes learned or based on perceptions that in the end are wrong. Pay attention to and be aware of where some of your feelings are coming from.
- Take baby steps. Change does not happen overnight. Cut yourself some slack and be gentle with yourself. The most important thing is that you are able to find the courage to take some type of action and try. Find the courage to share your feelings and talk about it.
- Focus on the present moment. Feelings of fear are often triggered by thoughts in our mind. Remember, you are not your thoughts and for the most part, we are worrying about what may happen in the future. In addition, we might be creating a negative story from the past. Both of these scenarios can lead to fear and wasted energy over something that may never happen or if it was something from the past, it has nothing to do with the moment you are living right now.
- Breathe. Fear and anxiety can literally lead to physical symptoms that are scary. If you are feeling afraid, try to shift your perspective and focus on something positive. Practice breathing techniques to promote calm and do something that helps you to relax.
- Let go and remember that this too shall pass. There are many things in life that are due to personal choice but there are many things that are out of our control. Be realistic and learn to embrace the moment. Let go of those things you cannot control.
- Live in gratitude, be kind and love without hesitation. Tell the people you care about that you love them and say it often. Don’t ever waste the chance to say I love you and try not to leave or go to bed mad. Make the most of every moment you are blessed to live and share in those moments with the people you love.
Fear is normal and it is something that we all must face but it does not have to control our lives. Life happens and we cannot go through life with a blindfold on nor should we. Life is meant to be lived, enjoyed and sometimes that includes learning to manage fear. And, sometimes we grow and gain wisdom because of those things we have feared.
If fear is paralyzing you or standing in the way of you living your best life or finding true happiness, don’t ignore it. Face it, understand it and take steps to manage it and regain control. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t let it run your life but rather find the courage to live the life you deserve to live. My wish is that you can dig deep and face your fears. I have fears and while they are still a part of me, I am working every day to better manage them so that I can live life to the fullest and with joy. I hope you can do the same!
In Peace and With Love,