Well, its the start of the second period, I mean article on facing off against your fears. Let me recap the highlights from the last article. We delved into the first three steps of our seven-step game plan in dealing with our opponents: fear, anxiety and worry. The first step was to change our attitude about facing fear in realizing that you can do something about it, if you believe in yourself. The second step was to identify our most prevalent fears that are holding us back in life. The third step was to learn how to incorporate two calming skills into our daily routine.
Now, we are about to face off against our fears with the start of the second period. Our goal is to break the cycle of fear by following steps four and five in our game plan. In essence, we would like to be able to transform our past conditioning and habits of our bodies and minds in response to fear.
Step 4: Accept your fears
Your first task is to identify the worse-case scenario should you have to face off against the aftermath or effects of your fears becoming reality. Take a moment now, grab a pen and sheet of paper and write down next to each of your most prevalent fears what would actually happen if things came to pass. The key word is actually, not imagined. Give it some thought as to what would really happen. As well, ask yourself these questions:
1. How bad could my symptoms be?
2. How likely and how soon could it happen?
3. Can I live with this outcome?
4. Would I be able to survive and continue on with my life?
Very often we get our minds so worked up over the imaginary consequences of our fears or worries that we fail to realize how insignificant and unfounded most of our fears are in the big picture of life. Once you grasp this notion it will become easier to put your fears into perspective. Yes, they are real in that your body is reacting to what your mind has been conditioned. The great news is that they can be managed.
Step 5: Confront your fears
Once you are able to better accept or cope with the outcome of any fear, anxiety or panic attack manifesting itself, you can face off against your adversaries head on. The first step is being able to accept your bodys physical reaction to fear, whether that be shortness of breath, a rapid pulse or increased muscle tension. Meet these symptoms head on and allow them to manifest themselves. You have already identified your worst-case scenario and have come to realize that you can survive the effects of the vast majority of your fears. Encourage your symptoms to intensify and continue for a long period of time.
As your body reacts, gently remind yourself that the symptoms will pass and life will go on. It is time to stop worrying and start supporting yourself. Tell yourself: I will handle it. vs. I cant cope with it. Encourage yourself by saying things such as: Im scared and Im safe. or Ill be fine, no matter what I feel. You will feel uncomfortable, but not horrible as you address your fears. You now know that in the short-term you can have your symptoms and begin to manage them better. You are now beginning to develop the coping strategies that will allow you to face off against any fearful opponent.
By encouraging the symptoms, addressing them head on and encouraging yourself along the way, you eventually de-sensitize your body to reacting to your fears. With time the symptoms will decrease in both severity and frequency as your body adjusts to being re-programmed with more supportive habits. Rest assured that your past conditioning and reaction to your most prevalent fears will change with time. Be patient with yourself, as your body adjusts to the pro-active habits that you are developing at this point in time. Keep in mind that you may not necessarily eliminate your panic attacks or worries, but you will be able to significantly reduce their negative effects.