“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” -Marie Curie
We all know what fear is and all the various forms and shapes it takes in our lives. It’s the fear of failure, change, humiliation, confrontation, and loss. It’s that nervous energy swirling inside, a looming sense of dread, the feeling of constriction and suffocation that either mobilizes us or renders us paralyzed. Fear is a universal experience and beneath its intense presence it is pure in its intent.
Most of us spend lots of time trying to manage and overcome fear and we follow all of the expert advice. We meditate, exercise, complete various deep breathing exercises, get out into nature, connect with others, get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated. We attempt to distract our minds or we make the effort to stay mindfully present. I find great relief temporarily through all of these things, but then I wake up the next morning and fear is there again banging down my door like it just can’t wait to tell me about all the potential things that could go wrong today and the next day and the next day.
One day, I woke up and decided to investigate and get curious about my fear before I gave into just wanting to get rid of it. I decided I would stop working so hard to manage it and demonize it and just have a conversation with it instead. After all, it had a lot to say and was constantly reminding me of the same things over and over again.
I got out a piece of paper and asked fear to share with me all of the things it was afraid of. Fear was afraid that I was getting everything wrong, that I was making the wrong decisions, and that surely I would be punished or there would be consequences for all this wrong doing.
I then asked fear if all these things were really the truth about me and I got it all wrong and somehow ended up facing some harsh consequences as a result, what did it see happening to me next? Fear said, “Then you will fail.”
And if I failed, then what?, I asked. “You will lose everything”, fear said.
I took a deep breath and in a gentle and compassionate voice I asked fear, “What do you hope for in telling me all of these things everyday?”, Fear replied, “That I can keep you safe and I can keep you protected. If you make mistakes people will think the worst about you, they will ultimately think you are a bad person.”
In that moment, something inside of me softened and I realized that fear was working overtime to keep shame at bay. That fear was actually concerned that shame would somehow be exposed. I knew it was shame because when I heard fear speak I remembered Brene Brown’s brilliant definition, “that shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” That something inside or underneath the fear was actually questioning its worth or value as a human being. Bearing witness to fear I had new insight and began to instantly feel calmer. I realized that fear was constantly in my mind and body taking up all the space because I never once really stopped to listen to it. I felt a new sense of gratitude for the wisdom it shared and the role it was playing in my life. I then knew if I could open more space for compassion and empathy towards myself in my life and spend time honoring my own value even when I make mistakes, fear wouldn’t have to work so hard. I knew trying to manage fear only made it louder overtime and that if I really stopped to be curious about what was going on, I might uncover something that could help me nourish myself in a way that I didn’t expect. I did not have to believe its catastrophizing messages but I did have to understand why they were there in order to find relief.
What is the vulnerable truth underlying your fear? What is the story your fear tells you? What is your fear really trying to protect you from? How can you more actively bring compassion to it in your daily life?
Photo Credit: Photo by Asdrubal luna on Unsplash
See more at The Art of Healing Trauma at : http://www.new-synapse.com/aps/wordpress/
You might be asking yourself this question if you intensely struggle with shame, insecurity and panic in relationships. These struggles may lead you to disown your own needs, emotions and belief systems just to remain connected to someone despite the pain it causes you. If it feels like you continue to get into romantic relationships and friendships with the same type of people over and over again then you might be codependent.
Lets look at the definition of codependency to gain a greater perspective.
Definition of codependency: A way of relating to the world and others categorized by ongoing behavioral patterns of being in relationships that are destructive and lack reciprocity. This behavioral pattern is often associated with low value of self creating an inability to set boundaries without guilt, shame or fear and difficulties expressing needs and desires in relationships. Sound familiar?
What do codependent behaviors look like?
How do I overcome codependency?
1. Identify your true core values by making a values list. A core values list can be difficult to create when you struggle with codependency as you may not be used to looking within (instead of to others) about what is considered acceptable. Click the link for a great list of values examples.
2. Identify how well your current relationships with your parents, partners and friends fall inline with your values. Identify the ways your codependent behaviors go directly against what you have identified you value.
3. Journal about how you learned to sacrifice you basic needs to remain in connection with others.
The 5 basic needs according to the research
4. Get support!!!!! You are not alone: Go to codependence anonymous (coda) meeting
Young, J. E., Klosko, J. S., & Weishaar, M. E. (2003). Schema therapy: A practitioner's guide. New York: Guilford Press.
Photo Credit: indra Nugroho, twenty20.com/indraemon07
Nightmares are a normal way for the brain to process a traumatic event. Isolated nightmares are normal, but when dreams that consist of flashbacks, unwanted memories, visceral fear or anxiety recur often, they can become a debilitating sleep disorder, according to research done by the National Center for PTSD. The Defense Department's National Center for Telehealth & Technology has developed a new mobile application to help users rewrite bad dreams to reduce the frequency and intensity of nightmares.
This is a mindfulness and meditation app that is built around you. Buddhify is perfect for those who are ready to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into their entire day, with meditations that target every aspect of your life, from sleeping, to traveling, to being online.
If calm is what you need, Calm is the app for you. It starts you out with a seven-day program. This is a great way for beginners to start meditation. Choose between options for sound and length of time, as well as scenes from nature for you to visually focus on while you meditate.
Other features include multiple guided as well as unguided sessions.
For individuals with chronic worry, anticipatory anxiety, and GAD, this app provides simple self-monitoring and documenting of worry within a pre-fixed menu, as well as a graphical tool that charts the worry entries by various factors. It also prompts the user to think about whether the he or she believes the actual worry was as bad as what actually happened.
A simple, intuitive, and attractive mobile app designed by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology to teach breathing techniques to manage stress. The skills taught may be applied to those with anxiety disorders, stress, and PTSD.
Targeted to anyone who wants to learn meditation to reduce anxiety and stress and improve their attention and awareness; good for a beginner to establish a regular meditative routine. The skills taught include mindfulness and cognitive diffusion, breathing exercises, meditation practice, tips for increased relaxation, concentration; may be applied to anxiety and depressive disorders, PTSD, and OCD, especially in conjunction with a health provider.
One of two self-help apps from the National Center for PTSD, this app is targeted to help individuals suffering from PTSD, as well as those simply interested in learning more about this disorder. The skills taught may be applied to individuals with mild to moderate versions of PTSD and for whom self-guided assessment and treatment might be sufficient.