Though we might prefer it not to be, fear is a healthy and necessary part of our human experience. It is a natural human response designed to help keep us safe from harm.
…Unfortunately, this natural fear can get out of control, becoming something completely unmanageable that hijacks our system and short-circuits our ability to reason and focus… Exactly the tools we need to navigate challenging times successfully!
Lucky for us, there is a simple and powerful method of disarming fear… And all we need is exactly what is already happening and available to us...
Fear, like any emotion, is experienced as felt sensations in the body. Shortness of breath, fast beating heart, tightness in your chest or guts, sweaty palms, dry mouth – these are signs and symptoms of fear.
Because a feeling of discomfort is inherent in these sensations, our instinct is to try to avoid or get away from what we are feeling. What we don’t realize is that it is by actually FEELING INTO the sensations happening in the body that they will then shift, lessen or dissipate of their own accord.
Next time you find yourself in a situation where fear is getting the better of you, try this:
- Take a deep breath and start to notice some of the sensations in your body.
- Take ~60 seconds to name and list off as many sensations as possible that you are noticing and feeling. (Ex: shakiness in my hands, nausea/churning sensation in my stomach, tightness between my shoulders, heart pounding). Don’t think too much, just notice it, name it as precisely as you can and then move on to the next one.
- Centre your attention on the sensation that seems most predominant or central. Usually this will be something in your chest or torso.
- Breathe into this sensation. Don’t try to change it or make it go away, just notice it and feel it as fully as possible.
- Keep breathing into and feeling this sensation until you notice it shift.
- If it shifts but the fear remains, follow it to its new location and repeat steps 3-5.
- Once you notice it shift and the feeling of fear dissipate the process is complete.