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Friday, October 17, 2014

Five Tips to Conquer Fear

What are you afraid of?
  • A down-sizing in your firm that you keep hearing rumors about in the cafeteria?
  • That stage 3 health diagnosis you were just given by your oncologist?
  • Your marriage breaking up, bearing in mind that you and your spouse hardly seem to have anything to say to each other anymore?
  • Plunging results in your portfolio, that's already lost so much over the past few years?
  • Public speaking?
  • Aging?
  • Losing your sex appeal?
  • Losing your home to foreclosure?
  • Losing your daughter in the custody trial?
  • Losing your hair?
  • Never being able to lose those extra 15 pounds you put on in your 40's?
  • Never being forgiven by that person you hurt?
  • Realizing that you've lived quite a few decades already, and have still not reached any of the important goals you were striving for?
These and many other possible scenarios are those that drive our fears. They keep us up at night. They distract us from times that could and should be joyful. They cause upset stomachs, acid reflux and ulcers, headaches, backaches, and migraines. They raise our blood pressure and create anxiety. In a word, they can make life hell.

Your thoughts are your vicious circle. They keep going around and around. And in the process of going around and around, you generally feel even worse. Nothing gets resolved, but you notice that your emotional state has worsened at each step of the vicious circle's way.

Nevertheless, there is good news out there for you. These tips can bring you to a new understanding of your fears and change the way you think about them. That will help you deal with this vicious circle of thoughts and fears and the tips are quite easy to implement if you choose to follow them and continue following them, when the thoughts and the fears re-emerge. Nothing will change if you try it once and then decide that because the thoughts do pop up again, the process has not worked. Remember: when you learned how to ride a bike, you probably fell off a couple of times first. All it takes is some willingness to practice this as well:

Tip 1: Become aware of the fact that no matter what it is that you fear, by thinking differently about it, you change the way it makes you feel. Remember that wonderful quote by Viktor Frankl that I cite so frequently:  the last of human freedoms - the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances. Said in other words, this means that when you are fearful about the cancer diagnosis, or the potential job loss, or losing your spouse, your thoughts are fearful thoughts. You could choose, however, to make those thoughts proactive  ones, where you attempt to find a solution to your dilemma. You could also choose to consider what you would do in the feared circumstances and begin to devise a plan for that contingency. Furthermore, you could decide that you have given the topic enough thought for today, and therefore you are going to concentrate on something else. See more below.

Tip 2: Recognize that what you think is, in fact, a choice. It is not something that falls down on you from heaven. Even though you may not know that you are making a choice with your thoughts, you are. This is so because once you choose to become aware of your thoughts you can 'pick' the ones you want, and eliminate those that you do not want. Prior to becoming aware of your thoughts, your choice is obviously a blind one, such as a choice you might make if you were blindfolded at a wine-tasting cocktail and blindly chose a particular wine. The choice is a blind one, and the moment your eyes are opened, you can make better and more informed and knowledgeable choices. It's like that with thoughts about fear as well. Once you are more aware and that means be aware that what you thing about can be a choice, then you can choose better thoughts.

Tip 3: Become aware of the fact that you are having ruminating, revolving thoughts about a fear that is making you feel incrementally worse. Without this awareness, you will not be able to 'grab hold' of your thoughts about this fear, so to speak, in order to do something about them. In order to be aware, you may need to put up reminders for a few days that jolt you into awareness: a few post-it's, perhaps, in prominent places of your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, office, each saying: what am I thinking? 

Tip 4: Now that you have your thoughts at the front of your head, so to speak, because you have remembered to be aware of them, ask yourself if you wish to continue ruminating. Let's imagine it's a health problem. Or work-related. Or financial. Or your relationship is rocky. All are major issues that many of us go through, but no matter how important they are, if you allow them to dictate your thoughts into toxicity, you will only make matters worse. So recognize that one thing is to give some predetermined 'proactive time' to your thoughts in order to see whether the problem can be solved, perhaps by brain-storming, researching, consulting with someone, but then, once that proactive time is over (and you will need to tell yourself each day how long you allow yourself to PROACTIVELY (not in a toxic way) think about this issue), then you need to agree with yourself that ruminating, worry-filled, fearful and stressful thoughts about that particular subject are no longer allowed today. So in this tip what needs to be done, each and every time the thoughts rise up in you (and they will), is some method of changing that well-worn rut in your brain - that habit - that neural pathway, to a new one. A very simple way to do this is to focus on beauty, for example, notice a beautiful plant, or tree, or the sky, or clouds, or an animal in your surroundings. Then allow yourself to be grateful for that beauty in your life right now, as you focus on it, and really see its beauty, and then notice a mild sensation of peace in your solar plexus. This occurs because just for a moment you have moved yourself from past or future time to now time, and while you are present in now time, you can't focus on past or future fears, pains, and worries.
Tip 5: At this point, after tip #4, you may feel marginally better, but since you probably have little practice at doing this, you will need something else, to keep your mind in a better place than in that vicious circle of thoughts. On this blog (Rewiring the Soul ) you will find a list of links on the left sidebar if you scroll down far enough. In there, you will find many suggestions of sites that offer motivating or inspiring talks, articles, videos, etc. Even if you choose something that is an hour or longer, just sit and listen or watch or read for 10 or 15 minutes. This will help you not only keep the thoughts at bay, but begin to create new neural pathways that will help you do this more easily each time you try. Download some of these talks and listen to them in your car. Use them as if they were vitamins for your mind and soul, and do it on a daily basis.

Finally, when the thoughts and fears come again, as they will (at least for a time), repeat the above process. If you can't afford to do the fifth step each time due to the activity you are engaged in (work, home, family, etc.), at least do the other steps, and then, as you engage in the activity you have at hand, try to be as mindful and present while you do so, as possible. This too will begin to change your brain and will help you feel better than if you engage in the activity plus ruminate. There is a great deal of material about this in both my blogs (Rewiring the Soul & The Tao of Spiritual Partnership), on my website in the newsletter articles, as well in all my books. I encourage you to give it a try. Learning to do this is not hard, and it can literally change your life.

Some last thoughts about thoughts:
  • understand that whatever your thoughts are about, by changing them consciously, you are not repressing them, nor are you pretending you have solved whatever it is that is bothering you (hence the thoughts), but that you are choosing to focus your attention elsewhere
  • understand that when you focus your attention elsewhere, whether it is on affirmations, or on reading an inspirational passage or book, or viewing a motivational video, it will serve your purpose only if you also manage to shift your energetic state from where you are with the thoughts that are bothering you to another, better (even if only slightly) state
  •  understand that only when your energy has shifted to a better place, will you truly be able to give focus and strength to better thoughts
  •  understand that in order to shift to a better energetic place, you will need to turn off, so to say, the earlier, more negative thoughts, even if only for a moment
  • understand that one of the simplest methods for quieting the mind is by practicing a mindful focus on beauty, then focusing on gratitude for said beauty in your life and then mindfully noting the shift (even if only slight) that has taken place in your energetic state

Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books. My new book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is now out globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.

Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch

Note: If you are wondering why this blog is now only appearing on alternate days (excluding Sat/Sun), it is because I also post on my other blog on the others days. That other blog is The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for another one of my books. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed.

Find more free articles from my monthly newsletters as well as more information about my work at Advanced Personal Therapy

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