Choosing not to be consumed by fear

Is it feeling like the world’s gone crazy – a new virus, recession, climate change, Brexit, you name it – it’s all happening at once? The barriers are coming down and people are shutting off. Everywhere there’s a sense of doom and fear. How do we cope inside with all this?

Let’s look at some strategies for managing the situation for us ourselves inside. I don’t mean the practicals of living at present, and many of us are probably feeling stretched on that count alone. I’m thinking of how we are responding inside. How could the self aware, mindful person cope in a way that serves her or him, that gives empowered choices?

Being consumed by fear

The predominant emotion for many is likely to be fear, fear of what might happen, of how we’ll cope, of what harm we might come to, or might become of our loved ones.

Fear can be disabling. It can take over, cutting off the rational part of the brain, what Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence called “the amygdala hijack“. It’s the stress reaction, triggering the release of hormones which, while important in managing a real threat, can become habitual and harm our immune system, and thus our ability to fight off infection. This is how people suffering prolonged stress get sick. Thus it’s really important at a physical level to manage our stress levels.

Fear, worry and anxiety can take us over. We can get consumed by it, on and on, minute by minute. It can also be subtle, a background experience, lurking in the shadows, springing out every now and again, and, for some, paroxysms of trembling, gut-churning, shaking, pure, unadulturated fear. Or it can just hang on in there. “No, I’m perfectly rational and in control,” the rational part of us says, nose in the air, while actually deep inside, fear is active, perhaps exerting influences like being doubtful, a reluctance to act, a questioning, a hesitation, cynicism even. We can even live in a constant state of this low-level anxiety, outside of awareness but present. We might not know it consciously, but it’s there, eating away at our self-belief, our confidence, our faith, our certainty.

If I write these words, how do you react. “Everything will be OK”?

Did you believe it or not?

It’s a useful test.

The bottom-line negative emotion is fear

Fear is a fundamental emotion, what I call a bottom-line one, which is ironic in current circumstances. It’s what keeps us from inner contentment, from what some might call union with the One. At one level it’s there to look after us, to keep us safe, but in the ego’s grip it often becomes self-defeating. It can also lead us to make poor decisions, and take us where we don’t really want to go. Fear can take over our lives.

So, it’s really important to challenge fear. From a self awareness perspective, it’s where we need to get it, get that we’re doing this, running this number. No matter that you’ve been doing it all your life. This minute is the next moment of your life and time to make a shift.

So, I suggest challenging fear each time it arises. As with most of these practices, you might quickly forget this, but when you next spot it’s happening, challenge it again. Say “stop!”

What’s happening is that one is firstly becoming aware that it’s going on, that your (or my) mind is doing this, and secondly, it is to breathe and to step back and notice it, become mindful of it. This is where the practice of mindfulness is so useful. We literally teach ourselves to step back and be aware. Here you become the observer, the Witness. Thus you are no longer caught up in the mind’s stuff, which is where fear dwells. Thus we can get that fear is really F.E.A.R., False Evidence Appearing Real. It’s not who we are.

Engage the will

Here you can engage the rational part of the mind, in this case the will. Here you can exercise choice, and chose a different strategy. There are many.

You could instead, for example, set an intention. Whatever you are fearful of could be turned around into an intention for a positive outcome. Let’s say you are worried that you will lose money. You could could instead create an intention for the positive creation of what you need for your health, happiness, wealth, wellbeing and wisdom.

There is a further step. Once you are as the Witness, allow your self to be really present as the witness, in the moment, aware, still, at peace. This is where we get truly that fear is not us.

Fear dissolves. It just goes. It’s ephemeral, something that passes, along with all those negative thoughts. We are so much more than all that stuff.

So, know the space beyond fear.

Now is really an important time to meditate, and practice being mindful.

For further practice

I’ve put some links up for those of you who want to practice using meditation. There a practice meditation session, a meditation using the breath, one using a mantra and finally one using body awareness.

 

Building self confidence provides resources in the face of adversity

Self confidence in the face of adversity is an admirable trait many of us would probably like to have and truthfully probably not many possess. How often do you find something difficult happens and you are consumed by anxiety, self doubt, anger or upset? Do you not wish you had that inner strength that will carry you through, or at least worry that if something unpleasant happens you won’t be able to cope? Here is where building self confidence is important, as a resource for challenging situations..

Yet in history when certain nations have been beset by adversity, a leader has emerged to carry them through, one who held an aura of confidence that inspired others. It is a much valued leadership trait, and perhaps rare. Winston Churchill comes to my mind as regards the UK, or perhaps Roosevelt for the USA in the 2nd World War. In the UK’s situation it was when facing seemingly inevitable invasion and then through the long, difficult years of bombing until the tide turned. Churchill, himself a depressive, nevertheless had the strength within him to inspire a nation. You could probably think of others.

Looking at one’s own personal situation, self confidence and self belief give an anchor, an inner knowing that enables us to meet our challenges. It is that inner knowledge that you can do it, you have what it takes and that you will come through and all will be well. It’s a kind of trust of self. This is not necessarily an outward show, and that helps, but more a certainty within.

So the value of building self confidence and self belief is that it gives you an invaluable resource for any challenges that may come. So, when times are good, and things are going OK, this is every bit as important in terms of self development as the tougher times. This is when it pays to work on those areas where we are prone to self doubt and turn them to our advantage. This will depend on the individual, but you could for example choose where to challenge yourself in order to increase your confidence.

One friend asked me to show him how to climb trees to help him overcome a fear of heights. He only told me he has this fear when we got to the top! He had in past avoided doing this. Another I know does a lot of public speaking and yet I know that historically he’s a shy person. He has learned to confront his fears and knows he can now achieve a lot more. It’s like his comfort boundary has massively expanded. What the resource is you have to ask, but I suspect it is an inner knowing that’s he’s OK in any situation. Doing such things equips you with additional skills and this in itself means there’s more you can do. When you know you can do it, and know you can find a way to do it, you have gained a level in confidence you didn’t previously possess.

This is the sort of resource acquistion I’m thinking of, giving yourself more skills that adds to your belief in your capability. In turn it rubs off on your confidence levels in general and you come across accordingly as more impactful and as one who can inspire others in some way. Study the careers of successful people and you will find some adversity they had to overcome to be as they became, and they needed to equip themselves with particular resources to do this.

I help people in building self confidence so that they can accomplish what they really want to do. To learn more, click here.

It’s hard overcoming low self esteem after a knock to confidence

It’s a big challenge for people at present in these difficult times, maintaining self belief, confidence and self esteem in the face of knock-backs and rejections. This particularly arises for job seekers, but it can also apply to the self employed and to those with financial difficulty, illness, injury or other challenges that life can seemingly throw at us. Overcoming low self esteem in the face of difficulty can feel like it’s too much, particularly if your self esteem wasn’t that great to begin with.

It doesn’t help when you get a bad day. If you keep getting bad hair days, it can feel like a pattern has set in. Even if you pull yourself back from the precipice, another setback can occur and it can seem like you’re back on a treadmill to nowhere. These occasions set you back and your confidence takes a drop. Then you start to beat yourself up and your self esteem falls. It’s a vicious circle.

Let’s say you’re a job seeker and you’ve been putting a lot of energy into job hunting, with not a lot of success. A bad day could be a string of rejections coming all at once, and calls and approaches you’ve been making seemingly getting nowhere. Then your health starts playing you up and you’re struggling to get going and make things happen. And it’s holiday season and those fortunate enough to be in work are taking their summer holidays, whilst you aren’t. So you feel even worse about yourself.

This is where in recession times developing your recovery and self belief skills are so important. The point of awareness is to really notice, become aware, that you’re going back down on one of those slides, and to say “stop”, and stop yourself going back down into a pit. This takes practice, I know, but we have to start somewhere, and as good a place as any is to recognise this keeps happening, and to work to stop it keep repeating itself. What reinforces the decline is low self esteem, because we can so easily slip back into a negative pattern. It’s like it’s the ego saying, “I told you so, you’re no good”. This is where we need positive things to be saying to ourselves to challenge this negative cycle, so as to to really take action on overcoming low self esteem. None of these negative thoughts are true in any case. They are mental contructs, things we’ve thought up, usually long before we were aware of what we were doing, as small children. It’s more illusion, maya, a function of the ego, not who we really are. The mind is much bigger than this.

There’s a big point here in recognising how powerful the mind is, and how it can lead us to great positivity when we take charge, manage these mental patterns, and over and over again re-focus ourselves on to what uplifts us.

So, when you get another rejection or another set-back, this is a clue to immediately re-focus on your task and take action, and not to allow the sirens of doubt to start to get a hold over you. Working on the mind in this way is like treating the mind like a muscle that needs strengthening. So too in these situations. When we’re in a positive, purposeful state, then we draw more positivity to us, and better things start to happen.