His heart is beating fast. Your body temperature is rising. Your hands may shake. You may have an upset stomach.
Your thoughts start to become the worst thing that can happen, and suddenly you feel so unprepared, as if everything is going to fall apart and you won’t be able to handle it.
You can feel so helpless when fear takes over, almost as if your brain and body have been taken away from you, and there is little you can do to feel safe or in control.
There’s not much you can do to feel safe or in control. Although fear can have both physical and psychological symptoms and we can’t just wish it away, there are things we can do to calm ourselves.
I know this because, like most of us, I’ve been there many times and handled it well and badly.
I have panicked, believed every scary thought, judged myself to be weak, and tried to numb my feelings with alcohol – these are things I have done more often than I dare admit.
I also took deep breaths, observed my thoughts, treated myself with compassion and decided to accept my feelings, more and more often as I grew older.
Since I know that we have much more power than we think when it comes to confronting our fears, I recently asked this question on the little Buddha’s Facebook page:
What do you try to remember when you feel anxious?
Over 1,000 people responded, which I appreciated as much because their thoughts were comforting as it reminded me how common anxiety is. It’s completely natural. It is human. But we don’t have to let it control us.
The next time you feel anxious, remember what these members of the Little Buddha community shared with each other:
1- It will pass, and it will pass faster if you don’t fight it.
It’s a wave that I have to beat and surf until it passes. The struggle against it prolongs it and makes it a torrential current. # Lori Craven
If you let the current take you where it takes you for a while, the river will eventually spit you out. Just go with it and everything will be fine. ~Renee Breuer~
2- You can and you will get through this, and it can make you stronger.
I confirm and verbally remind the child inside me that everything is fine, and “Doug the adult” takes care of them. Hence the fear. As an adult, I know that my success rate in surviving the crises I have gone through is 100%. My little “Doug” inside is scared and feels anxious, frightened and insecure, so I tell him that I am in control. ~Doug Marcum
I can handle anything that happens. I always have, one way or another. If things don’t go my way, that’s fine too. The fear will go away and I’ll be stronger later. # Suzy Wedley
3- You are safe.
I take a breath and repeat to myself, “I am safe. I am safe. I can take care of myself. I am powerful. I am important. Repeating it helps me to refocus. ~ “Ida Zakin
It is not a matter of life and death. I will live to see another day, no matter what the outcome. ~Claire Denney
My mantra: “It’s just adrenaline. It can’t hurt you. It will pass.” ~ “Chuck Striler
4- Your body is trying to protect you.
I am not a dying zebra! I have observed something that says stress is a natural part of our fight or flight response, which is useful when you’re out on the savannah running from a hungry lion. ~Jen Miles*
Fear is the way my body tries to protect me. My body has good intentions. You’re a little bit wrong. I’m grateful for my body’s protection. #Jenny Britt
5- the past and the future cannot harm you in the present
I try to think about what is on my mind and it is usually a thought or reflection on the past or future. I remember that I’m fine right now, and all we have is this moment. It helps me. ~Angela Regan-Storvick
6- Thoughts can only hurt you if you give them strength.
Since mine come from spiraling thoughts, I remember that thoughts are just that. They don’t need to make sense if I don’t let them. Let them come and go and give them no strength, no meaning. Don’t let them fill up, but let them come and go. They don’t need to be a reality and most of the time they don’t reflect reality or my true self, just old thoughts, and I don’t have to react to every one of them. ~April Rutledge
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