fear not…

I’m afraid of lizards.

There’s no real reason why.  They just give me the creeps.

I’m also afraid of crowds.  You can ask my pal JC.  Years ago she and I were heading into a Rolling Stones concert.  She was eight-months pregnant and giving me instructions on what to do if we were separated in the crowd.  Then she saw the TERROR in my eyes – and held onto my hand.

fearI’m afraid of other stuff too.  Those are just my two BIG ONES.

Lately, I’ve been in conversation with several people about fear and how it can derail us.   So I’m wondering how best to adjust the fear faucet.

Here’s the main thing I’ve come up with so far:

Breathe. I know that seems elementary.     Here’s the gig – we humans forget to breathe when under stress (aka fear).  If you don’t believe me try this:  stretch out your legs.   Wiggle your feet to the right five times, then to the left five times, then up and down five times, then exhale.  See?     We humans TEND to hold our breath when we’re concentrating on something that stirs  stress.  Breathe (in and out) – this counteracts fear.

How do you turn off the fear faucet?  Let’s build a cooperative fearLESS list!

15 thoughts on “fear not…

  1. I believe that you have yet hit on another issue that we all have. I fear a lot………school, myself, my kids, my husband, my friends………religion, war, life………my hair falls out. I do, however, like lizards. Gecos are my favorite. This is because they ran around in our home in Okinawa eating giant mosquitos and nasty huge cockroaches, so I appreciate the bug eating ones.
    I figured I’ve just become paranoid in my old age and have lost the confidence I once had as a kid and young person.
    Facing fears is good. I like the stretching idea,and wiggling the toes, etc. It is all good. So, actually, what is there to fear, but fear itself, and nope, can’t remember who said that.
    Your’e great. Love, Val

  2. Ah, fear and the breath. Try this; deep breath—hold the breath in as long as possible. Yes, wait for the fear to come up…and, trust me, it will. When the fear arrives. Observe. Count to 3 and then release the breathe without urgency. Now, try it again. This time notice what happens when you feel fear. Do you tense up on the shoulders, feel it in your gut?? And guess what, do the exercise again and again, because each time you feel fear and get through it with awareness, the brain gets a little message saying “hmmm, fear is ok, I can handle this”

    Now, try holding the breathe out; you can even ask, “which breath does fear arrise faster?” when I hold the air out, or keep the air in?

    Fear will never leave us, but the true masters observe and learn to live with it productively, right??

  3. hmmmmmmmmmm… mayhaps you’ve helped me look at lizards with new eyes, Val. mayhaps!

    Rach, just tried the breath exercise – wOw. and THANKS for your yogi reminder.

  4. I don’t really fear tangible things. (I love lizards! Love to watch anoles basking in the sun and popping out their little red throaty things. Snakes are creepy to me, but that’s a whole ‘nother — and probably Freudian — topic, I suppose.) No, my fear is the one that rears its ugly head in the middle of the night, usually having something to do with my kids. Sleep is impossible, and the whole world is going to end if I can’t fix things THAT VERY MOMENT, and of course I can’t. The solution? First, chocolate, if it’s available. (Yes, I have resorted to eating the baking chocolate when I couldn’t find anything else.) Then, settle down onto the couch with a fluffy comforter and a really impossible book to read. My favorite is Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past”. Has anyone ever really read that damned thing? I have never gotten any farther than about the first three pages, because by then, the cure is working, and I’m sound asleep. Fear has been vanquished by boredom and slumber; and in the light of morning, things just aren’t all that bad!

  5. When I first got sober, 22+ years ago, one of the best things I heard was , “FEAR= False Evidence Appearing Real”.
    I inherited the gene for fear. 🙂 I have no children or I would be worrying all the time, just as my mom did! However, being self-employed as a rep for artists has been a great breeding ground for fear/ anxiety. On the other hand, it has been a terrific “classroom” for learning how to reduce this.
    I recently read this technique from His Holiness, The Dalai Lama: press one finger along side your left nostril, take a deep breath in with your right nostril, hold, then placing a finger on the right side nostril, exhale from the left nostril REPEAT. It sure has worked for me!
    I create a lot of fear and anxiety when I project into the future with all the “WHAT IFS”. I keep a bell in my car. When I start doing this, I ring the bell and say “STAY IN THE NOW, STAY IN THE NOW…….”
    Love you, Lisa,

  6. When I started riding motorcycles I often found myself in situations that were usually just close calls. Even those left me with a stomach so tight with fear I was afraid that I would be sick. I began to think of the worst thing I could imagine happening in my situation. Once I felt like I had that identified I considered what options for action or reaction I could take in the event of the worst case being the reality. I found the mental preparations reduced the fear and often rendered it merely a part of the memory of the event, more or less and afterthought.

  7. ML ~ can sooooooooooo relate to chocolate easing fears – lol. ‘member i always have a stash here if ya ever need it.

    Shirley ~ love that nostril practice from the Dalai Lama. am being HERE NO with that one.

    Jim ~ your “wpo” (worse possible outcome) reflection sooooooooooo helped me. THANKS! (… am still staying away from motorcycles tho ).

  8. Who said “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”, Lisa? That makes no sense to me. If one fears fear then isn’t that fear to the infinite?
    I greatly fear small rooms ie, bathrooms with a fan running or a tight closet.When I was a little girl my older brother and I accompanied my father to a relative’s house for a furniture delivery. A distant cousin (older than either of us) went along with us, the house belonged to her grandmother. I don’t remember anyone being in the house when we arrived the house was large, musty smelling and creepy (you know the type). At some point Patty (the cousin) forced me into a dark closet, locked me in there somehow for what then seemed like forever and later threatened my life if I told anyone. I never did, until recently to my mother whom now only remembers the past. She remembers my brother coming to her crying after when we came back home but he couldn’t tell her why he was crying.
    He remembers nothing about even going that day. I would love to know what really happened that day, or maybe it is best that I don’t. I also have a fear of crowding. When in college groups would wait for the door to open to the dining hall at suppertime. One particular day the football players got off practice early so they were there with us in line. When the door opened everyone began to rush through the door. I being a small , vertically challenged person was literally carried between bodies down two flights of stairs, screaming the whole way down. I thought I would be trampled and die right there at Lees-McRae College. Can you imagine the headlines. LEES-MACRAE BOBCATS MAKE MUSH OF SHORT FALL. Alice

  9. dear Alice,
    my stomach knotted as i read your stories. i SO fear crowds and could SO relate to what you described. may all of our feelings of being “carried between bodies” be banished. i send you ALL that is good. thanks for trusting us with your experiences.

  10. It has been a long time since I have “been there”. I also had a similar experience to yours at a Doobie Brothers concert. Thanks for your reply.Love Alice

  11. Now, why would I be receiving a blog about fear? Especially from my friend Lisa who knows there “ain’t no ripples on this pond!” (I’m not sure who said that, but I think it was my husband.) Okay, maybe a ripple. Perhaps some days a whirlpool. Right now work has me jumping out of my shorts. All I wanted was a nice little substance abuse therapist job – something for a new MSW to sink her teeth into You know, learn a couple of boundaries, how to elegantly administer a urinalysis drug screen (aka., please pee in this cup for me), the difference between “robo-tripping” and “skittles,” stuff like that. So I get this great job – and within 6 months my boss has left and I have HER job. I didn’t even want her job – I just didn’t want anyone ELSE to be my boss. So now I’m “challenged” and “stretched” in my current position. Breathing and being in the moment is definitely the way to go for me. My new favorite breathing reminder is the 4-7-8 breath from Dr Andrew Weil. Here’s a quick description: place tongue lightly on the roof of the mouth – tip touching the ridge just behind the front teeth. Keep tongue in place throughout the exercise. Breath in through the nose for a count of 4. Hold for 7. breath out through the mouth for a count of 8 (remember to keep tongue in place.) Repeat 3 more times for a total of 4. I also love self-hypnosis CDs. They just make me feel like I’m floating. Dr Steven Gurgevich has a wonderful collection. Just knowing that I have these tools can get me through a stress attack. Pharmaceuticals are also helpful. Thanks for the reminder, Lisa!

  12. Janet, THANKS for Dr Weil’s breathing tip. we can’t ever have too many ways to manage our fear (sans pharmaceuticals – ha!).

  13. My fear???? Disappointing the one’s I love…I believe we are brought together for a purpose and when I percieve that I have not fullfilled my role towards that purpose, then regret, self doubt and fear creep in to further derail me on my journey.

    But my faith ultimately renews me because it is at times like these I realize that all does not rest on me, but that which has caused these feelings and physical manifestations, was encountered to better not only myself but those or that which I have experienced.

    I try never to forget that life is a blessing…the most precious gift that is given…the ultimate expression of love, and a corny as it sounds…love DOES conquer all.

    With that said…things do surprise me, startle and cause me to stop or take a step back…but in the end I believe it is the good Lord telling me to take a break…or in some cases He is saying…”Hold on because things are going to get exciting! You will thank me for this in the end.”

    I used to sometimes think about what I would do if I could go back in time and change things…then I realized that if I did, things would be as they are…which is pretty good despite the pitfalls, disappointments and bummers…Heck, Lisa…I may have not met YOU and that would be a true disappointment:~}


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