Stop what you’re doing and think about one or two things that you’re afraid of. I mean, really afraid of. Maybe illogically so.

When you feel this fear, do you feel worried? Probably…and I bet that when you’re in a situation where this fear is really in your face, and you’re not just thinking of it while you’re reading a blog that it makes you feel anxious for hours, or maybe even days. I’d be willing to bet that sometimes that anxiety ends up rippling out into other areas of your life that are completely unrelated.

Dealing with fear, worry, and the anxiety they can bring is something that we all need to learn to deal with in some way because it will happen to all of us at some point. People who don’t create a process of dealing with their fear can end up in crippling anxiety for years, with one fear giving way to another, and then another, and so on.

Fear serves a purpose, and even when we clear away fears at their highest level, a tiny part of our brain is always going to take a pause when faced with that situation again. It’s a way for our Ego to remind us that there’s something here we need to stop and think about and make sure we’re approaching things safely.

All three of these things are hard to define because they are different for everyone. No matter how you define fear, worry, and anxiety having a way to deal with it is important. One thing you have to absolutely understand is that no matter how much you deal with a fear, you’re not going to eradicate it completely. And you’re not going to suddenly turn fear into zen.

Another thing that makes fear, worry, and anxiety difficult to deal with is the fact that with it being so subjective not everyone will understand your anxiety. What might freak you out may be nothing to your best friend or your mother. When you try to convey to them how you’re feeling they may look at you with a guffaw and tell you to put on your big girl panties and get over it.

Let’s just say that is less than helpful to someone dealing with true anxiety.

So in the grand tradition of needing to look out for yourself because you can’t count on anything else, ever, let’s look at a list of deceptively simple steps you can use to confront your feelings of fear, worry, and anxiety.

I started approaching fear this way a handful of years ago specific to deal with the fear of flying, and I’ll illustrate these steps with that example and my experience.

 

5 Steps To Deal With Your Fear, Worry, and Anxiety

Step 1 – Accept the fear and accept you’re experiencing it.

Like they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step to being rid of it, and fear is no different. Many times we might try to talk ourselves out of our fear or someone else might try to do it for us. This is what happens when you tell your friend you’re scared of something and they tell you to get a grip and you actually try. No. Hell fucking no! Your fear is legit and you need to look it in the eyes and say “I see you, I feel you, now I’m going to deal with you.” Feel it and know it’s real and that its OK for you to be experiencing this fear no matter what it may be.

In my experience…everyone told me that my fear of flying was ridiculous and that I needed to get over it. I would constantly be told all that “but it’s statistically the safest way to travel” bullshit as though that was just supposed to make me feel better. I acknowledged that yes, I was afraid to get on a plane, and yes, this is the way I feel and the experience I’m having about it. That’s when I knew I could do something about it since it was now clear, defined, and pinpointed.

 

Step 2 – Be honest with yourself about what it is and why you’re experiencing it.

It’s easy to try and downplay your own fear or tell yourself “It’s not really this I’m afraid of but this,” because that second thing may be more socially acceptable or easier to deal with. That’s like falling out of a tree and falling on your arm and now that it really hurts you decide to convince yourself it’s not broken, you just sprained it a little. You’re not taking care of the true problem. You’re either taking care of a symptom of the actual problem or diverting your attention. Be honest about what you’re fearful of and why you’re afraid of it.

In my experienceI knew that I was afraid of being in the air. It wasn’t actual airplanes, it wasn’t be in a confined space for a long period of time, and it wasn’t all the rigamarole of going through the airport process. It was honestly the thought of being 30,000 feet up in the air that scared me. But then I thought about it some more and realized that it wasn’t actually being in the air. It was two other things; I was already afraid of height, so there was that, but it was also fear of the plan crashing. I was already afraid of planes being hijacked as a child of the 80s. During the 1980s and 1990s there were a combined 4 dozen {approximately} plane hijackings. So my fear was really about hijackings and heights.

 

Step 3 – What’s the worst that can happen?

Lots of times when we’re afraid of something we let our imagination run wild. It creates scenarios that are incredibly unrealistic but we buy into them anyway. When you get to this step it’s time to welcome that ridiculousness. Imagine up the absolute worst possible scenario that could happen, even if it’s incredibly unrealistic. This is the face of your fear. This is what your fear wants you to believe. It’s also the thing that you try to avoid when you’re trying to deal with your fear. Allow it come out, sit down, hang out, and have a beer with you. See what it really has to say.

In my experienceI honestly thought I was going to get on a plane and be part of that rare statistic of airline passengers that dies in a hijacking. I would imagine it in the mind with extreme vivid detail. As part of this imaginary event I always saw the plane break apart and people would be sucked out of the plane. No me, of course, because I had to sit there and watch the horror unfold. But I truly believed this would happen. In fact, I canceled on a potential trip to England after seeing the movie “Final Destination” because of an airplane scene that happens in the beginning of the movie. I thought I was OK but seeing this scene play out on screen with a lot of details similar to my dreams just made it worse.

 

Step 4 – OK, now what really might happen, even if it’s bad?

This is where we get honest with ourselves. We’ve indulged the imagination, the fear monster, and the Ego. Now it’s time to be honest and say “What is really the most realistic bad thing that could happen?” Sure, it’s possible that your worst case scenario could happen, but how likely is it? What is it that could really happen, even if it were something less than ideal? This is one of those times when having a supportive friend to use as a soundboard can help. Tell them your wildly ridiculous scenario and then tell them your realistic one. Ask them what they think. Having an outside voice to help you with comparing the two can be helpful to shed light on what’s really going on in your head.

In my experience…I knew that while there was always the possibility of me being on a plane that got hijacked or a plane where the hull exploded was there, it was a very, very remote possibility. For one, I have never traveled outside of the country on a plane, and while I desired to do that, I knew it wasn’t happening any time soon and my interest was more in flying within the country. It’s much more rare for passenger jets renaming within the US to be hijacked. And random plane explosions are just as, if not more rare. So what honestly was the worst thing that could happen? I miss my flight while going through the airport? The seats are uncomfortable? I get claustrophobic? I get bored? Nothing a pair of headphones and a pillow can’t take care of.

 

Step 5 – Flip the script on your fear and turn it into an action.

Now that you know what your fear truly is, what can you do to take your power back from it and truly conquer it? What’s one thing you can do today, right now, to make this fear less powerful in your life and to reduce or alleviate your anxiety? Try and think of the exact fear; what is the opposite of that? How can this be an action you can take? It doesn’t have to be a single major action; break it up into realistic and doable action steps you can take over time.

In my experience…the action to take was to get on a plane and fly! And I did! I flew across country without incident. Yes, I did get a bit bored and yes, it was cramped as hell during the second leg of the trip, but otherwise nothing happened and all was well. In fact when I landed I was looking forward to flying again!

 

Bonus – Don’t be afraid to use complementary therapies too.

When I was dealing with my flying fear I made use of other tricks and tools as well. I used tapping {aka EFT} for two weeks leading up to the flight and while we were getting ready to take off. I carried a wrist mala with me and chanted silently to calm my nerves while on the way to the airport, while waiting to board, and while getting ready for take off. Once we were in the air I was fine. What other tools do you have at your disposal that can help? Crystals? Oils? Reiki? Whatever you have use it! It’s not cheating, it’s helping.

 

It’s important to remember that when you’re working through a fear the first time to keep your expectations a little on the low side. Don’t expect that you’re going to dispel with 20 years of fear after one deep dive into your heart. Give it time, be persistent, and do the work. Each time you have to face this again it will get a little less challenging and eventually you’ll be able to acknowledge it and leave it at that.

 

To help you out, I’ve put together a two page journaling sheet that you can print out and use with any of your fears that you need to work through. This takes you though the five steps and gives you a place to record and track your progress. This is a huge helper in this work. Getting things down on paper helps make it more real and often easier to deal with because you actually see the ideas in front of you.

 

Download Your Workbook!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *