Written By June Milligan, M.Ed., CCHt, PLR
There are more descriptive words for fear in the English language than any other emotion. From Acrophobia (fear of heights) to Zoophobia (fear of animals), many of us carry either real or imagined fears throughout our lives. If we can transform or process those fears, we can be free to move on, to achieve what we want, and to become fully actualized human beings.
What follows is a little exercise you can use to not only identify some hidden fears, but to transform them. The first thing is to ask yourself the question, “What do I fear?” When answering the question, include physical fears (spiders, snakes, whatever) as well as emotional fears (fear of being alone, fear of being rejected, etc). Write down as many of those fears as you possibly can. Don’t stop till you’re completely dry.
Now look at that list. Do you see a common theme? If your greatest fear is not being in control, it may be that a great many of the fears on your list are simply manifestations of that one fear, afraid of losing control. Now see if you can rearrange the list so you can get a couple of themes that encompass all the things you’ve written down.
For the second part of this exercise, ask yourself, “How does this fear manifest in my life?” For example, if every time you feel afraid or anxious you ridicule someone, then you can see that when you’re feeling afraid your signature behavior is to put someone else down (make fun of them, try to make them uncomfortable, get extremely judgmental or crabby, etc). So, it makes sense that if you understand what behavioral pattern you exhibit when you’re in fear, you’ll be able to know when you’re feeling an inner or hidden fear; otherwise you may not ever become consciously aware of when you’re reacting from fear and therefore will not be able to do anything to change it.
One way to discover the real fear is to watch your emotions. However, many times the real emotions are masked by “already decided-upon opinions.” If you don’t like someone and you run into them, and they say something that upsets you, the hidden fear you feel around them is masked by anger and by your reassurance that you have a real reason to dislike that person. An easy way to get around this is to write down, at the end of the day, any behaviors you engaged in that were uncomfortable, didn’t serve you or were painful–any behavior you engaged in that didn’t feel clean.
As you write this list, you might realize that at the time of certain encounters, you felt fear. As you identify patterns, you can catch yourself in your behavior of that pattern and stop it right in its tracks. That’s how you rewire. So, how do you stop it in the moment? One way to do this is the Shock Value technique. Stop the dialogue with that person, take a deep breath and excuse yourself. This Shock Value technique involves doing something that is so unusual for you that it will cause your subconscious, which normally just runs a tape loop creating the same old behavior, to stop and say, “Wait a minute. What’s going on here?” Now you’ve got your subconscious minds’ attention, so you can communicate with it. If you’ve gone to the bathroom, removed your sock and shoe from one foot, put your foot in the sink and turned on the faucet, that’s going to get the attention of your subconscious mind. Now’s your chance to repeat over and over, “I no longer choose to take out my fear on other people. I take total responsibility for any fear in my life.” Mean it. Feel it emotionally while you’re doing this strange behavior. Your subconscious is going to start canceling the old behavior and will begin to rewire. In the future, when you see that person, your reaction will not be to attack them. Your fear will be lessened or will have disappeared, so you won’t feel the need to protect yourself.
If you don’t like the foot-in-the-sink idea, come up with your own. There are hundreds of behaviors you could use to shock your subconscious minds’ programmed ideas of how you should react to certain stimuli.
The third part of this exercise is called, “Personify your fear.” This is completely different from the above but it does depend upon the work you’ve done in the first two parts. This third exercise will be published in next month’s Healthy Beginnings. Be aware that most of the dysfunctional behavior we see in ourselves and others is based in fear. We’re very creative regarding our fears. But, as we process and transmute these fears, we learn more about ourselves, we free ourselves and we allow our personal power to soar. Then and only then do we realize the extraordinary potential of who we can become. Stay tuned.
1. Harold S. Kushner. Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World. Anchor Publishing. 2010.
2. TW Walker. How to Turn Fear into Confidence – The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Fear. Breakthrough Media Network. 2012.
For more info, contact June Milligan, specializing in hypnosis, acupressure, trauma therapy and helping people let go of dysfunctional thinking, at (775) 786-9111 or visit online at joyfulchanges.com.