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Radically Change the Way You Experience Fear

When we understand fear as a tool that only wants to keep us safe, we can learn to receive its warnings, and engage with them thoughtfully, rather than feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by the fear.

During times of increased uncertainty (hello 2020), our brains are wired to generate massive amounts of fear.

Ugh, that news article broke my heart.

Are people taking this seriously?

Is my family going to be okay?

Is my job at risk?

Am I doing the right things?

If you’re experiencing a surge in fearful thoughts like these, mindfulness practice offers many tools for reshaping how fear shows up and how you respond to it.

Understanding the reason your brain developed this fear response is one of the keys to radically changing the way you experience fear today.

Understand the origins of your fear to reduce it.

Millenia ago, our neanderthal ancestors’ brains developed to focus on fear as a survival instinct. Fear helped us stay vigilant, just in case that noise in the bush was a hungry lion getting ready to pounce on us.

The sensation of fear kept us alert to the dangers of our surroundings, so that we could do everything in our power to stay alive.

Understanding the reason your brain developed this fear response is one of the keys to radically changing the way you experience fear today.

Melli O'Brien

How to Meet Fear With Love

Melli O'Brien · 5-30 mins

Fear is a biological response aimed at keeping us and our loved ones safe.

Even though we’re no longer living in the bushes with wild animals lurking around the corner, that fear instinct that wants to find safety and protection from danger is still very active in our brains.

So what do we do?

** Keep in mind, maybe you label fear with other words like: Worry. Anxiety. Concern. Panic. Nervousness.

Cory Muscara

Working With Fear

Cory Muscara · 5-30 mins

Say “thank you” to fear.

This may feel counterintuitive, especially if it's causing you distress, but so much can shift when you remember that fear is trying to help you. And unless you acknowledge and appreciate the fear, it will continue to build beneath the surface.

Our co-host, Cory Muscara, encourages us to think of fear as our built-in guard dog.

A guard dog is trained to bark if it senses danger. Although the dog's barking may be loud, abrasive, and frustrating, it's not trying to cause you suffering; it's trying to protect you.

And the guard dog is waiting for you to acknowledge the threat that it sees so that it knows you're aware of the danger and taking steps to create safety.

The more you ignore the guard dog's barking, the louder it gets. And since in this analogy, the guard dog represents fear, that means:

Melli O'Brien

Fear and the Flower of Growth

Melli O'Brien · 5-30 mins

The more you ignore fear, the louder it gets.

It's only when you meet the guard dog (fear) at the front door, show it that you see what it sees, and then give it a pat on the head and say "Good job. It's okay", that it will start to calm down. This is what we need to do with fear.

By taking a moment to thank your fear, you're engaging in the psychological equivalent of meeting the guard dog at the front door.

It's as simple as saying: "Thank you, fear. I see you and I appreciate you telling me that there’s a potential problem. I'm aware of what's happening. You've done your job."

Maybe fear will respond with something like, "Oh, good. I'm glad you're aware of what's going on. Let me know if you still need me. I'll keep a look out for other potential threats."

Thanking the fear calms your nervous system, which makes it easier for you to identify what elements of those fearful thoughts are valid red flags that you need to take action on, and which are not.

When we understand fear as a tool that only wants to keep us safe, we can learn to receive its warnings, and engage with them thoughtfully, rather than feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by the fear.

This is one of the tools for making fear your ally. Keep practicing.

Team Mindfulness.com

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