It stands in your way. It shuts you down. It feels downright crappy. Here are five surefire methods to stop fear in its sinister, creeping tracks.
1. Breathe like Darth Vader. My yoga teacher reminds us to feel our breath and engage in ujjayi breathing as we drag the inhale and exhale powerfully across the back of our throats. In other words, super deep breathing. It sounds great. It feels great. It’ll mellow you out and connect you back to yourself. Sometimes, taking a breath and centering is all you need to face down fear. If that doesn’t work…
2 Imagine it’s happening to someone else. If your best friend was afraid to jump out of an airplane but you knew the adventure was totally aligned with her adventure-seekin’ self, you’d encourage her, right? What if she wanted to kick her loser boyfriend to the curb? You’d want her to dump the jerk. Well…step out of yourself. What would you say to “you” if you weren’t “you”? Okay. Do that.
3. Apply the “Jerry Springer Effect.” Someone always has it worse than you. Recently, I had a filling in my molar randomly fall out. As much as I told it not to, my tongue fished around in the back of my mouth, feeling for the big ‘ol hole, freaking me the heck out. I tried yogic breathing (see #1), but I still couldn’t chill. Then I reminded myself that lots of people don’t have access to a dentist. I recalled that in the old days people had to get their teeth yanked out without painkillers. Then I felt a little bad about being such a sissy about my silly filling when my appointment the following day would fix me right up. Perspective usually helps.
4. Remember that you are going to die. It’s true. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but this is the only moment and life you can be sure of. As frightening as that may be, it is also liberating. What if you could put this “thing you are afraid of” in your eulogy? Would you rather be known as “the person who died trying” or “the person who gave up?” Yeah. I thought so.
5. Do it anyways. Whatever it is. If a thought or idea has taken up residence in your mind so that it nags and grows inside you, do it anyway. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear---not absence of fear,” said Mark Twain. And he should know. If anyone stood down the aristocracy and generated a new voice for the rebellion, it was Twain. Own it. Close your eyes. Hold your breath. Then jump in the deep end and learn to swim.
Fear never stood a chance.