Wednesday, 5 October 2016

How to Eliminate Fear and Anxiety

Do you ever worry about something?  Do you suffer from anxiety?  Are you ever fearful?  Would you like to eliminate fear, worry and anxiety altogether?

Before we go any further, let me clarify one important point about fear.  The reason nature has given us an emotion we call "fear" is to try to stop us from getting into dangerous situations when we do not need to.  This is a good thing.  You should not try to eliminate that fear, but rather respect it.  React to the fear by doing whatever you can to remove yourself from a dangerous or catastrophic situation.  Once you have done that and know there is nothing else you should or can do, then use the techniques in this article to eliminate the fear.

Deciding whether or not you can do anything about a situation is a very important first step, perhaps the most important step of all.  If there is something you can do which may stop something bad happening, then do it!  Don't sit there worrying about what might happen if there is something you can do to stop it!  This might seem obvious, but for some reason most people never take this first step, but instead feel like a rabbit frozen in the headlights of a car about to run it over.  The rabbit could simply run away and avoid the terrible fate awaiting it, but it doesn't as it is paralyzed by the very fear nature intended to save it from that fate.  Do not become that rabbit!

Once you have thought through the actions you could take, and have taken the appropriate ones, now is the time to eliminate the fear or worry as now it is serving no useful purpose.

One method I always use at this point is to imagine whatever it is I fear or whatever is worrying me has happened.  Imagine the worst case scenario.  Now think about whatever you can do to make the best of a bad situation.  Once you have done those things, just how bad is it?  How does it compare with, for example, the suffering of people trapped in Aleppo?  Is it as bad as that?  I think not!  Accept this bad result and move on.  Don't spend too long on this, as you don't want inadvertently to invoke the law of attraction and find you have created the bad situation for yourself.  Now that you recognize there will be things you can do at the time to reduce the hurt of whatever this bad situation may be, put it behind you.  Remember you have done everything you can to stop it happening in the first place, and you have recognized it is not exactly the end of the world if it does happen, and therefore the fear and worry serves no purpose any longer.  It can be a good idea to verbalize this.  Thank the worry for having alerted you, tell it you have addressed the problem (either by changing things so it doesn't happen, by accepting the results if it does, or both), and then tell it now it has done its job it can go away.

You may think talking to a worry in this way is childish and silly, but it is not - it is actually a very effective way of disarming it.

Recognize that what you have done here is simply accept the worst case scenario should it ever occur.  Unless you have worked pretty hard to create a bad situation for yourself it is probably never going to materialize.  In 1816 Thomas Jefferson wrote the following to John Adams:

"How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!"

Sometimes we worry about something because it seems too big for us to deal with, and yet we also feel it is something we SHOULD be dealing with.  The answer to this is to treat it in the same way as you would treat the task of eating an elephant (sorry to all of my vegetarian friends!) - break it down into bite sized pieces and then deal with each piece one at a time.  The big puzzle may seem too big for you to solve, but there are usually small pieces you can chip away and solve, eventually making that big problem very much smaller.  While you are dealing with one piece, again address the big worry.  Again thank it for showing your there is a problem which needs to be solved and tell it that you are dealing with it piece by piece.  Ask it to go away while you are solving each piece so that it does not stop the very process it wanted you to start.

You may find just the techniques I have given you above are enough to deal with all your fears, worries and anxieties.  But there are many people for whom this is simply not enough.  They find they are still worrying about things.  Often those worries and anxieties are "nameless".  They don't know what they are worrying about.  Worrying and being anxious has become such a habit that they simply cannot stop.  If you find you are one of these habitual worriers, then read on for what you can do once you have used the principal attacks on your worries.

Schedule some time each day to practise meditation, mindfulness exercises or yoga.  Ideally you should do this when you first wake in the morning and again just before you go to sleep at night.  I am not going to go through any meditation or yoga techniques in this article as that would probably turn it into a book!  Take a look and you will find plenty of material around - including in other articles in this blog.  Perhaps even invest in some books on the subject, subscribe to a course, join a local group.  Do anything - just as long as you take some action!  What you will find is that these techniques will help you relax and your nameless anxieties will gradually melt away.

Even regular physical exercise can help.  Having a hard work-out can make those worries, the ones not related to anything you can deal with, simply melt away.

Finally, do not underestimate the importance of staying socially engaged.  The support good friends can give you should not be underestimated.  Sometimes they can help you directly with the things that are worrying you if you take the trouble to ask for their help or advice.  Even when this is not the case you will find simply enjoying good company will lower your anxiety levels for no apparent reason at all.

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