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Facing Your Fears

What to Know

Sometimes you might feel that paralyzing fear consumes and shapes your life, like a vicious circle or trap you cannot escape from.

You might fear your own mind, which is filled with both unwelcome and disturbing thoughts.

You might fear losing control of yourself and saying or doing things that are totally against your values.

Imagine you do something different, something that on the surface seems ridiculous; crazy, even!

What if—instead of trying to control your reaction to a frightening image that you can’t unsee, or avoid a terrible thought—you are aware of your fears, face them, speak about them aloud, and accept them as something that merely makes you human?

What if you acknowledge your difficulties and the role fear has played in your life?

What if you embrace your perceived weaknesses, while also acknowledging your strength and resilience?

Of course, your natural tendency when faced with overwhelming fear is to fight it by trying to control it. However, this approach only serves to increase distress, as the fear only temporarily subsides.

Drawing upon the teachings of mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) recognizes that suffering stems from the tendency to escape or avoid pain instead of facing it.

You disconnect from the present and akach to negative thoughts that you mistakenly think define you. This dissatisfactIon is intensified when you base your actions on those fears instead of acting based on your values.

One of the major principles of ACT is to accept your reactions and be present with them, no matter how disturbing they are.

Practicing acceptance may at first make you feel very anxious, but being able to tolerate your anxious feelings by fully experiencing the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany your fears is the first step toward decreasing the power your fears have over you.

What to Do

Choose at least three fears you are experiencing in your life right now.

How they have impacted your life. As you write, consider the following:

  • Observe what you are experiencing without reaching.

  • Let your emotions or thoughts happen without giving in to your fear.

  • Recognize the difficulty that experiencing these fears has made in your life without judging or

    criticizing yourself.

  • Give yourself permission to be fearful.

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face”