peace comes from faith not fear. learn to handle fear

Handle Fear Itself

The way you handle fear just might be your biggest challenge in life. Not just right now, but in absolutely everything at all times. In fact, it might be the only challenge that really matters. (Well, that and managing shame, the other troubling emotion but even shame does not paralyze in quite the same way as fear. It’s not as contagious, for starters. More on that in a later blog post.)

When Franklin D. Roosevelt said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” he knew what he was talking about. It applies today. And yes, it does apply to fear around our money as FDR meant when he said it in his first inaugural address.

Now is a great time for people NOT to panic about the economy and about their money. History bears this out time and again: those who resist the panic and keep their wits about them are the ones who get the real pay off in the end. Especially when it comes to economic things.

No matter what you apply it to: health, relationship, wealth…everything we do is either in faith or in fear.

I mean it. Every single step, every move you make, every vow you take (sorry, I distract myself with song lyrics.) But it’s still true; it’s ALL fear or faith.

Every single thing you confront today is either done in faith or fear. You are moving through life in faith or in fear. Going to work, driving your car, flying on a plane, submitting that work proposal, trying to improve your health, talking about that thing with your boss, your mate, your sister, or your dad.

I guess you can be doing something in a trance as well, unconsciously. Yet underneath it, even your subconscious is in faith or fear.

It matters.

Facing Fear

When handling fear, you don’t need to shout it down or summon angels for help or start a war. That really just makes it worse. It’s like struggling in quick sand. Exactly the opposite of what helps.

Fear is just fear. It’s an emotion. It’s just like every other emotion. And that means you can notice it, say to yourself, “hmmm, that’s interesting” and allow it. Breathe. Let it go.

Just like every other emotion, fear gets more powerful and bigger the more space you give it. What you focus on amplifies. Every troubling nuance, when given attention, becomes something bigger and more troubling.

Good news: when you focus on all the good stuff, that grows too. Including faith. And faith is NOT just an emotion. 😉

Faith is actually a bit meatier. Now, I’m not meaning this in any kind of religious or spiritual sense. I don’t have to be talking from that perspective for this to be real because this is a truth that exists in the secular, human psychology perspective as well. It’s just true. (But if you have a religious or spiritual relationship with faith and perspective, you might already know what I’m talking about. And go ahead, draw on that as you reflect on this if it helps.)

Faith is more powerful than fear. You just need a tiny little bit of the stuff for it to grow. More than an emotion, faith is the expectation of things hoped for. In fact, one text calls it “the evidence of things not seen.” Did you hear that? Faith itself is the evidence of things not seen. Because the faith exists, (the positive belief, shall we say) the unseen thing actually IS. More than an emotion, faith is a state of being.

You’re either stuck in the emotion of fear or you’re in a state of faith.

Managing Fear with Faith

Making this distinction takes power from fear and gives it to faith. Think of fear simply as an emotion and faith as your chosen state of being and you are well on your way to complete freedom from the paralyzing effects of fear, my friend.

It’s that simple.

You know how to manage your emotions.

They’re just feelings you HAVE, and just like any other feeling you have, they will change. So you can tolerate the not-so-fun ones in the moment. They will change. Even the really hard ones based on real crappy things…like learning a mate cheated, or getting dumped, or losing a job, or having a loved one die… I mean those things truly hurt, AND those painful emotions do not stay as intense forever without your help.

Some of you know how to tolerate your pain, not just manage your emotions and that is a very necessary skill. Especially when the thing you feel is pretty unpleasant. And let’s face it, sometimes fear can be pretty intense and grab hold of you. It can seem once you’re in its grip, you’re trapped. But that’s not true.

Handle Fear Intentionally

Concentrate on the good. Count blessings. Garner joy. Repeat the positive. Avoid negatives and catastrophizing. In like fashion, avoid mockery and derision, conspiracy, and complaint. These are all quite a waste of your time and bring fighting energy to a thing that really doesn’t need to be a struggle.

Choose faith. On purpose. Adopt a few soothing mantras if you need them. “Everything’s gonna be all right.” I believe in goodness. “Good things will come of this.” All shall be well.

No matter what phrase or phrases you choose, keep them around and bring them out as a habit, not just when things look dark or threatening. Notice the difference they make.

One woman I see often in the shared lavatory of my office building obviously experiences a lot of fear. She’s always worried about something: the weather, the roads, the soap dispenser, the flu. Her constant mantras are definitely affecting her overall mood, health, movement, and experience in life.

Adopt some positive ones and make them a habit. You’ll reap the benefit of those as well.

Handle Fear with Your Brain

It’s amazing how research and clear thought can keep gnarly emotions at bay. Some of you #brainfirst people already know that. (The downside we talk about sometimes in therapy is too much intellectualizing, too much “thinking your feelings” when those puppies were meant to be felt, enjoyed, and even shared, producing connection, intimacy, and interdependence.)

But at times when the fear factor threatens to overwhelm, there’s nothing like good rationale and clear thinking for truly clearing the clutter and helping one breathe and get back to balance. Take, for example, this Washington Post article explaining why it’s so crucial to slow our movement at times when a virus is on the loose. Good research, informed thought, and measured response help all of us make good decisions and formulate a plan.

And when you’re feeling fearful, having a plan is comforting.

Handle Fear with Movement

That’s right. Move your body. (And if you’re slowing your movement to help slow the spread of coronavirus, move your body within those parameters. I’m heading to pick-up that Kroger order later, for example. I’m not going into the store…because I don’t need to. )

So, if you are slowing your movement, working from home, suddenly with kids home from school, think about your movement and making it intentional. Plan to exercise in the house. Or go out for a walk or run and don’t stop for a chat with the neighbor. Wave. Smile. These are good.

Clean, de-clutter, and organize some more. Knock yourself out and disinfect. Again. Physical movement like this can increases hopefulness, add to lightness of being, keep you from getting cabin fever, and underscore a sense of control.

Just check with yourself to be sure the ways you are moving within your own parameters really ARE serving you, helping keep you measured and well, and feeding your faith, not the fear. There’s no need to be frantic in these movements either.

There you have it. Go with faith, my friend. As much as you are able. And then the rest of the way, when you’re having a hard time with faith, be comforted. You’re not alone. We are in this together. (And that goes for ALL of life, not just virus-time.)

As always, let me know if I can help. I’m here for you. And because I truly believe it is the most responsible and community-minded action, I’ll be seeing you in my virtual office for now. Don’t worry; you’re going to like it too. Plus, I’m here at the blog, on Facebook, and on Instagram…and just a phone call or email away.

Keep the faith. Chin up. Rely on your brain. Move intentionally. You got this.

stress less and find more peace, manage stress

Stress Less -for the holidays and anytime

Wish it were automatic to stress less and still enjoy the season?

Maybe that feels like a tall, ridiculous order. It might seem that you’re either ALL in for the holidays or taking a complete vacation from them altogether.

Most people want something in the middle. They want less stress and more enjoyment, more meaning, and more peace.

Let’s get you that.

Identify the Biggest Stressor

Is it travel to four different places? Maybe you especially stress about that ONE event. Feeling overwhelmed by obligations? Is it pressure you put on yourself to produce a Martha Stewart scene? Is it that you two seem to get into so many more arguments this time of year and you’d love to side-step it this year?Pick out the biggest one for you.

And yes, it’s personal, specific to you. Your spouse does not have to agree that this it THE THING. What stresses you may be the most important thing for her (or him) or for the kids… but we’re not talking about that right now. (Are you stressed because you’re alone? Here’s some help for that: read HERE or HERE.) We’re talking about what is MOST stressful for you. Identify that.

Having trouble identifying it?

Ask these questions to tease it out more effectively:

  • What one thing, if it disappeared today, would have me sighing with relief?
  • If I had to miss one part of the holiday, what would I skip out on with NO regrets?
  • Fantasize the perfect imaginary holiday. It looks like… (go ahead and get really specific and write it down.)

Don’t spend time evaluating this either. Don’t listen to the guilters or the naysayers even if they come from your own brain! It’s not time to judge your stress. If it’s stressful, it’s stressful. we’re going to solvee that. Next…

1. What’s the ONE CHANGE that will minimize that Stress?

You are looking for a rule, guideline, or principle you can adopt that keeps that stressor at bay.

Here’s an example:

For me, it’s shopping. I refuse to do any last minute shopping. And last minute for me means anything after I am on holiday break from work. That means if it’s not done before December 20, too bad, baby.

That one guideline eliminates 80% of the stress for me.

There may be part of this “area” you like.

Keep that.

Look, I am not a shopper. Never have been, never will be. (In fact I DREAM of having a personal shopper to whom I can say, replace these, I need that, I’m looking for this particular thing…and not spend one second of my time finding it!)

But I DO enjoy stuffing those stockings with quirky, unique, thoughtful, fun surprises.

I shop end-caps, kiosks, dollar aisles, clearance bins, and specialty shops…before December 20th… to thoughtfully purchase little gifties for ALL my lovies.

If there’s some part of the greatest stressor you DO like, keep it.

There may be related, smaller stressors

Eliminate these right alongside the other.

For instance, I also keep my gift wrapping simple anymore.

I did not always. I actually glued beads to wrapping paper, wove folded paper strips into gorgeous art before folding it over gifts, hand-stamped my paper, made my very own bows. Heck, we had seven trees one year, each with their own theme. I was a crazy person, tipsy with useless ideas.

I don’t do that anymore. Thankfully. It went bye-bye forever right along with all the pressure for more shopping right up to the minute.

It’s your stress.

It’s no one else’s stress. They don’t have to agree with you or find the same thing stressful.

Many years ago, on several Christmas Eve days I was shopping at the Mall of America with my ex-husband. That was super stressful for me. Was it fun for him? I actually think, yes, it was. (Go figure!) 

But I’m a grown-up. So are you. I own my stress.

I do not like to shop. Shopping on Christmas Eve or anytime but especially when  I am supposed to be resting from my labors is no longer acceptable. So I don’t do it.

2. Find the deeper reason

Spend a little time reflecting. Do you know what that drive behind the stressor really is? Why haven’t you abandoned it before now?

Could it be obligation or guilt or people pleasing, trying to be good enough, buy love, keep up appearances, or with the Joneses, or make up for something, disguise some lack?

I bet if you dig deep, you know what this is really about.

I certainly know what was driving me. Letting it go was key to my health. And that’s the next step.

3. Let it go.

Look, you are a grown-up. It’s about time those subconscious drives from forever-ago stopped running the show. You get to do what you want with all that baggage.

And if it’s not serving you, let it go. Breathe in, say you’re letting it go and then expel it with your exhale. You don’t gotta. Anymore. So don’t.

Just let it go.

You’re not a bad mate or parent, sibling, or child. You are all grown-up and if it’s not adding to your life, just don’t do it. Let it go.

I know that can be harder to DO than to want to do.

For some of you, it’ll be easy. Just reading through this has given you clarity and been a great reminder. You actually will follow through, change things up, and have a different experience this year.

But all of us could use a little help and support to make that change.

That’s what I’m here for

Let me help. I walk people through this all the time. I’m here for you if you need me. Give a call or send a message. Let’s get started on your best holiday season ever.

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