Fear and Anxiety: how to recognize it and what to do about it

February 26, 2012

Everyone has experienced fear and anxiety in their lives, many times..  Fear and anxiety are like close sisters. They are rooted in the same physiology and have very similar consequences. Throughout this article I will refer to the emotion of fear, but it also incorporates the emotion of anxiety.

Fear is a basic instinct and our survival depends on it. When we believe that danger is imminent, we automatically go into a  state of fearfulness (or trepidation). Fear’s command system is located in the middle of the brain and triggers responses that register in the body. It automatically puts the body in a fight or flight response when it perceives an oncoming “threat.” The physiological responses include, but are not limited to, a change in breathing, increase in heart rate, rise in blood pressure, tightening of muscles, coldness in extremities, disturbed digestion,etc.

Some people go into the “freeze” mode.(which fosters procrastination) All of the responses come from the subconscious, whose prime directive is to protect us. The subconscious mind works on auto-pilot.

When we anticipate that something unpleasant or bad will happen, fear and anxiety kick in. Fear acts like it is reality. Fear distorts reality. We create movies in our minds about the impending negative outcomes or conditions and then run it over and over.

These negative internal movies reduce our power both emotionally and physically rendering us into a state of tunnel vision. We are in reaction mode and feel out of control. Tunnel vision robs us of the ability to see that there are many possible solutions. . But many times all we see is a fear-based result.

The good news is that we are endowed with  a conscious mind unlike any other species. We have the ability to reason. We have the ability to choose how we respond to fear.

How do we move from the reaction mode to the choose our response mode?

First, we need to recognize that all fear is fear of the unknown and the terror that we will not be able to handle an unwanted outcome. We need to be willing to face (consider) the worst case scenario and tell ourselves we have the ability to handle it.. This does not mean that we want  that particular outcome or that we will become passive and sit by and just let things happen. But, it does mean that if the worst-case scenario does take place, we are prepared for it and we will find a way to handle it.

We need to recognize when we are fearful and allow ourselves to feel the fear. Most often we think we need to get rid of the fear in order to move forward. We need to release our resistance to fear.

Once we recognize our fear and accept that it is there, a whole panorama of possible solutions becomes available to us. We no longer see with tunnel vision.   We reach a point where we make a choice… No longer victimized by fear, we gain a sense of control over our lives. We are empowered and know we can handle it.

The bottom line is this: Positive thinking empowers us and negative thinking holds us hostage to what we don’t want.

Things you can do to reinforce positive thinking:

1. Put reminders around you using post-its.
2. Write in a journal  and tell the story the way you want it to be
3. Read positive quotes
4. Drop words of negativity from your vocabulary
5. Refuse to spend too much time with people who are negative
6. Do not listen to radio or TV broadcasts that predict gloom and doom
7. Create the environment around you to be clean, attractive and positive
8. If you make a mistake, use it as a learning experience and a catalyst to move fully towards what you want. This is not a journey of perfection.
9. Do not blame yourself or others

If you are feeling stuck, make a list of small steps to take to reach your goal.

Write an intention statement. Make a list of everything you need to do to reach this goal. Estimate the amount of time it will take and then double it.

Some signs that fear is hanging around:
1. You are irritable and don’t know why
2. You resent others
3. You snap at people for no apparent reason
4. You  procrastinate
5. Your energy feels zapped
6. You are critical and judgmental of others
7. You are not looking at what you are really upset about
8. You are in resistance

Becoming aware of some of the signs that you are in a fear state is the first step to empowering yourself. Resolve to face your fears no matter what. Trust yourself to find a solution to handle whatever comes up.

Fear is a feeling. The  positive side of it is that it is calling you to deal with your life. Know that peace of mind is restored when you empower yourself with CHOICE. Use fear to create courage in yourself to to know that you can face  whatever comes your way!

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