I hurriedly search the house, my pulse racing and my mind spinning. Where did I put it!? What will I do without it today!! I stumble up and down the stairs, frantically searching for my lost beloved object: my android phone. My stomach tightens, and I feel myself start to sweat…
we’ve all experienced versions of this- the all-out panic and fear when things don’t go as planned. For fun, and to make it less terrifying, I’m going to call this a run-in with my fear-dragon.
We all have a fear-dragon, and when I’ve encountered mine. I’ve been known to spin on my heels and run the other way. Turns out fear isn’t anything worth- well… fearing. This feeling better suits you as a friend than foe and while that’s easier said than done, once you know how to deal with your fear, it will never control you again.
When you learn how to acknowledge your fear, it will not only keep you safe, it’ll show you your limiting beliefs, and illuminate your quickest path to growth and change.
First things first-your brain has a lizard, and it’s friends with your (fear) dragon. (It’s a jungle in there).
Every human being has a lizard-part of their brain, and it thinks you’re living in the stone-age. (Think Wilma from the Flintstones- no electricity, fire is miracle magic, and language consists of grunts and cave-drawings).
Once upon a time, this lizard-dragon friendship was INCREDIBLY helpful- it kept you safe from saber-toothed tigers, and enemies with sharp sticks. But NOW, your lizard finds threats on your life in insults, social media posts, and misplacing your cell phone. When these things happen, your lizard-brain alerts the (fear) dragon and soon you’re experiencing panic in your body.
This response is as old as time.
The fear response floods you body full of adrenaline, and stress hormones like cortisol, takes blood away from your brain and digestive system and pumps it into your limbs- literally readying you for combat or sprinting your ass away from the saber-toothed tiger-(phone-thief).
When you’re in the midst of your fight or flight response (and frantically looking for your lost cell phone), your brain literally cannot think logically until your body calms the f down. This is a result of the stress and chemical response your body is going through when you’re feeling fear and panic. In this fear-state, you no longer have access to your pre-frontal cortex- which is the part where you make smart decisions and think clearly.
What’s worse- you’ve also learned something. Your brain has linked a completely non-threatening event (the ‘loss’ of your phone) with a threat on your life. You body thought you were about to die.
Not a great way to deal with fear, is it?!
If you aren’t careful, this fear response can run your life. This is where the friend-thing comes in.
The first step to deal with your fear: pay attention.
Emotions get stuck in your body, particularly when your brain keeps triggering them. Once your brain links an experience to fear, all it takes is the MEMORY of that experience for it to feel real in your body.
As in, the NOT REAL VERSION of the thing that’s probably not even that scary.
So, how do you move emotions through your body? The first step is: acknowledgment.
Resisting what is, is resisting reality.
Look at your fire-y dragon- when you ignore her, she gets BIGGER.
Allowing your experience to be what it is to you (scary, uncomfortable, maybe a little painful) will help you move through it. Allow it, Acknowledge your fear response, and don’t dwell on it.
Next, get curious. Now that you’re looking at your scary dragon in the eyeballs, it’s time to ask some questions (you speak dragon, right?)
What brings you here, my frightful interloper?
Ask your fear what she’s trying to get for you. Why did she show up in the first place? What’s really going on here? Dealing with your fear means understanding her.
Once you discover what your dragon’s really all about, you’ll probably discover she’s just trying to keep you safe from some of your deepest fears. Here are some examples:
• When you panic about a vulnerable social media post, you might fear rejection, not being worthy of love, or experience some good old imposter syndrome.
• An altercation with your boss might leave you with a fear of looking stupid, or losing your stability and income.
• When your cell phone is ‘lost’ in the depths of your purse, you might fear for your kids (because they can’t reach you, what if they need you!!), your clients (what will they think of me if I don’t respond?)- and each of these responses boils down to an underlying fear of: how will it look? What type of person will does this make me? What will they think!?
Whatever comes up, your fear is linked to something you believe about YOU and your world. It’s so deeply a part of you that it alerts your lizard and dragon to keep you safe- even when you don’t need the reinforcement.
Once you can acknowledge your fear and determine what it’s all about, you can start using it for your highest good.
Working with your fear shows you where you’ve drawn lines in the sand- where you’ve boxed yourself in. You can play with these self-induced ‘boundaries’ to explore growth and change. Step right up next to the thing you fear, and instead of running away, lean into it. (Hug your dragon please!!)
Have that disagreement that will be uncomfortable initially if it will help you get what you want.
Embrace a peaceful day without your cell phone.
Try for that handstand in yoga class even though it scares you to your core.
The more you rub up against your fears and discover that they don’t control you, the more empowered and free you’ll feel.
Consistently overcoming circumstances creates resilience, and it’s like a muscle. Once you’ve used it regularly, you’ll be able to not only deal with your BIG fears, but completely conquer them.
Drop a comment and let me know how it goes ;).
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