fear

“Whenever we take a chance and enter unfamiliar territory or put ourselves into the world in a new way, we experience fear. Very often this fear keeps us from moving ahead with our lives.” Susan Jeffers, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

We all encounter the feeling of fear at one time or another. Whether it is a fear of loss, rejection, public speaking, failure, the list goes on and on. Fear creates a biological response in our bodies known as the Flight or Fight Response. At times of true danger, such as an angry bear charging at us, that response can come in handy. Realistically, in most of our lives, those experiences are few and far between. Our challenges are more of an emotional nature.  Still, we have those feelings when we dwell on our challenges.

“No matter what degree of insecurity you are feeling, a part of you knows there is a lot of wonderful “stuff” within you just waiting to be let out, and NOW is the perfect time for opening the door to the power and love within.” Susan Jeffers

The good news is that emotional pain can’t kill you and that’s why doing something you know you need to do, even if it’s scary, can be the most important tool to overcoming fear. Most of the time, once you’ve actually done something scary for the first time, you find it really wasn’t that scary at all and the fear goes away.

More and more I see the hashtag First World Problems. It is a humorous look at ourselves, after all people often say that we in western modern societies have it really easy. For example:  A possible infection, another root canal and the removal of two wisdom teeth; starting to look like a fabulous summer #firstworldproblems, or this: I’ve received new honors from my college, so the old resumes I have printed are useless now. #FirstWorldProblems.  Someone worrying about which job offer he is going to take might seem frivolous to a man who’s wondering if he’ll be alive tomorrow, or whether he can feed his family for another week.
When we are suddenly facing real problems, we often start to wonder how we could ever have been so worked up about what we thought were problems before. Why did we spend so much time worrying and fretting that we could have spent enjoying? Still, if during that time we are given the adage, there are people who are much worse off than you, it feels flippant. Harken back to the times our parents told us we should be grateful for our least favorite dinner, after all, there are children starving in Africa. I didn’t know a kid who didn’t wish they could ship that meal off to the starving!
I once heard a therapist suggest that her sister in another war torn country had real problems, so the client she was seeing should be grateful that being left by her husband with small children to support is all she had to deal with.  How did that make the client feel? Guilty as well as terrified, hurt and unappreciated would be my guess.
You can be sure that the client she was speaking to was not unaware of human trafficking  or war or starvation that goes on around the world, still that awareness didn’t make a difference to her because she was living her life.
The fact is that fear, anxiety and hopelessness are correlated with life circumstances, but only up to a point.  Living in a nice safe environment is also correlated with feeling safe and secure, but the correlation isn’t as exact as you might think. You see, fear is fear, whether it’s fear of starvation or fear of riding an elevator to your office. Someone who is frightened or depressed in an outwardly perfectly safe and secure environment still feels as if they are living an unsafe life.
Furthermore, recent research has shown that only 10% of our happiness is due to our external circumstances. A full 90% is based on our inner environment.
So, I make the case that while we don’t want to trivialize anyone for their fears or worries, there is something to be said for practicing gratitude.
Over the ages, many philosophers and sages have celebrated gratitude. Many of the world’s great religions and spiritual practices, have all at various times endorsed the idea that being grateful encourages reciprocal kindness, as well as individual and collective well-being. When people focus on gratitude on a regular basis it has been found that they enjoy increased alertness, enthusiasm, optimism and energy. In one study with hundreds of participants, the gratitude group experienced less depression, exercised more regularly and made more progress towards personal goals. According to these research findings, people who feel gratitude are more likely to feel loved and respected than the non-grateful. They also showed better immune function and less physical illness!
So rather than just noting the bare fact that there are people physically worse off than us, it may be better for us to actively focus on what we do have. When we start to actually notice and appreciate that we have access to clean water, or the internet, or other people who aren’t trying to kill us we can create a shift in our awareness. Keep in mind that comparing yourself to another (she got a promotion and I didn’t even though I work just as hard as she does) will result in more bad feelings. Your bad feeling comes from focusing on what someone else has that’s more than what you have.
Next time you feel really worried or down, think of three ways in which it could be even worse. Not how someone else has it worse, but instead it might be worse for you (but isn’t). For instance, you were stood up because your friend “got a better offer”. You might think, yea that sucks and hurts being dissed, but at least I have other friends to call and chat with. Or, at least I have a great job and my kids are safe at home with me.  
Follow this by trying to imagine your life without those blessings. Imagine losing that great job and being unable to get another in the foreseeable future or having your kids being taken away from you. Take time to imagine what that might look like, how that might feel if you didn’t have those blessings. Do this for a few moments to get the impact of how things might have been. Just be sure that you are focused on a blessing you truly appreciate and not the thing that started this downward spiral in the first place. Be sure what you focus on is something that, while it would be worse, it is not likely to ever occur. So, if anything has been of concern (you are concerned that your kids will be taken by an angry ex for example) eliminate that one from your imagining.

 

Try this, then go back to feeling the gratitude for those blessings. Really spend a few moments enjoying the benefits in your life of living your life. Practice a smile, because it is true that it is very difficult to feel bad when smiling, even a fake smile.  To quote Young Frankenstein, “It could be worse, it could be raining.”
 
 
 
How would you like a simple exercise that helps to release anxious feelings? What if it was fun and easy to do? Imagine if you could do it anywhere, home, car, office, wherever you needed a quick mind/body release. There has been research done on this simple task and it has been found to help relieve stress.

First you want to acknowledge that you feel anxious, nervous, fearful or panicky. Allow that feeling to be present, without judging, just experience it. Understand that it is just a feeling and as such it will not harm you. Next, close your left hand (the one you write with) into a fist.  Be sure to make the fist nice and tight. Really squeeze it, feel the pressure of the tightness. Then begin to imagine all of your anxious feelings slowly flowing down your arm and into your fist.
If you want you can imagine those anxious feelings are like a red glowing energy or light that travels down your arm until it is trapped in your tight fist. Make these sensations as real as possible. You may notice that your fist will begin to pulsate with energy as the anxiety is transferred there. It may even change temperature.
Now, as the energy flows and the sensations occur begin to notice that your feelings will change from fear and anxiety into a tolerable nervous excitement. You can imagine the color changing, perhaps to a lighter shade like pink or even a cool blue color.
Now the final step – begin to open each finger of your fist nice and slowly. As you do this notice how the tension is released, you are setting the trapped anxiety free! Count each finger out from 5 down to 1, taking a breath as you open the hand up. Your hand will now be open flat and the tension, stress, anxiety and fear will float away from you. With one final deep breath, blow on to the palm of your hand and send all those negative feelings away for good!
Notice if you feel a light sense of release as the anxiety leaves. You might imagine it floating up, up and away into the sky, taken away into the stratosphere. Repeat this little exercise up to three times and notice how much better you feel. 

You can also tune into a free stress audio here: Serenity

St Patrick’s Day is here and the celebrations are in full swing, from turning rivers green (famously in Chicago and even locally the Hillsborough River) to parades and parties. The reason for the celebration, according to tradition, is in honor of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. However, as there is little evidence that this island ever had many snakes. Apparently, as snakes in biblical terms represent evil and Pagans were considered the same by Christians, it was the Pagan folks that were driven away (or converted.)
I like to use the metaphor in my life in a bit different way. I am not in any rush to drive Pagans or any other group of people out of my life, but evil can leave. Now, I am not plagued by evil, don’t mean to imply that.  However, anything that stands in the way of my true inner peace can leave now.
Ironically, I once had a horrid fear of snakes. It took some self -hypnosis and contact with the creatures for me to change that.  So, what are the snakes that I and so many others I meet deal with? FEAR is a biggie! Fear can rob us of inner peace as quickly as it becomes a thought.
We have a continuous inner voice that seems to rage on and on when we are anxious or fearful. This self-talk hugely affects our emotions and behaviors. When we start telling ourselves things that don’t line up with reality we get into trouble. We start thinking and believing thoughts that just aren’t true and these false beliefs become a prime breeding ground for unhealthy fears.
Often our first impulse when we experience fear is to avoid the source. When the danger is real, avoidance is an appropriate tactic. When fear is irrational, avoidance is inappropriate and will only make the problem more intense. Many people are in the habit of seeing the negative side of any challenging situation. When we focus on the negatives, we resist taking action and continue to avoid, becoming stuck. The more we focus on the possibility of loss the more anxiety and fear we create.
Avoidance is a serious obstacle to dealing with fear because it works. We temporarily feel good through avoidance. The problem is we can condition ourselves to avoid something rather than face it. As a result, we give a portion of our lives over to the thing we fear, letting it control us. Avoidance will never make fear go away.
You may find it helpful to make a list of any specific fears you have and get them out in the open. In each situation that leaves you feeling hesitant or fearful, try to understand exactly what is holding you back. What is it that you are afraid will happen and why? Are those things really likely to occur, or is there only a slight chance? If you take your fear to the extreme that you are worried about, what are the odd of that extreme coming through?
Next, use a separate sheet of paper and create a list of the benefits you stand to gain by moving forward. Be as specific and optimistic as you can. Remember that dread and fear will amplify your perception of the negative possibilities, which can make the positive benefits seem significantly smaller or less important. So, you may need to work a little harder at emphasizing the positive.
Comparing the two lists, you can then make a balanced decision. You will have a better, more balanced view of your options.
Recently I spoke with a woman plagued with anxiety attacks. Apparently, the onset of these attacks coincided with her beginning a job search. The more we discussed her concerns about finding the right job, the more her fears were expressed. When we took these fears to their extreme, she decided she was not likely to end up a homeless bag lady or dead on the streets of Tampabay. As we discussed the possibilities of what could go right, her fears began to dissipate.
In her case, she decided to move forward with the job search. She is not going to let fear get in her way. So, her snakes have been driven away.

Take a moment today to channel your inner St. Patrick and drive those snakes out of your life. Breathe in that inner peace, picture and imagine the beauty of those Irish hills and wonder what beauty might be waiting for you to enjoy.


Yes, Walt Disney had a fear that seems improbable today. Keep reading to find out what it was. 
 
Halloween is a time that we seem to celebrate our fears.  We set up scary scenes and haunted houses. We tell ghost stories and watch zombie movies. The instant thrill of fear can be very compelling, we seek the thrill. Some even become addicted to the thrill, but that is for another time and another post. So, what about those who are unhappily consumed by fear?
Fear can be productive; a warning to keep us safe if there is a hungry tiger ready to attack. This would be an appropriate signal for the fight or flight response. Fear can also be upsetting and limiting. We often fear situations that aren’t life or death. We can easily learn to overcome fear, although it may take time. When fear crosses over into phobia, it becomes life altering and that may take the help of professional using tools such as hypnosis.
Here are some simple steps to overcoming fear.
 
·                   Cultivate Awareness. It is important to recognize that fear is limiting your enjoyment of life in order to begin the process of overcoming it.  It’s easy to get attached to your thoughts and feelings.  
·                   Identify what exactly you’re afraid of. Notice the pictures in your head about the situation. What is happening in those scenes? What are you really scared of?
·                   Be curious, about what thoughts fuel the fear, where you feel it and how you react to it.
·                   Breathe in a sense of calm and imagine the fear as a cartoon. With each breath in, relax, with each exhale and imagine the fear as a cartoon.
·                   Have fun with it. Find or print out a picture that represents your fear. Punch, kick, or do whatever helps you feel better as you tell the fear that you are bigger and more powerful than the fear. Perhaps you can imagine beating it the way a gamer beats the “boss” in a video game.
·                   Imagine how you would be without the fear. What would be different about you? How would you talk, walk, hold yourself? Imagine you are free from the fear and practice being that person.
It has been reported that Walt Disney had musophobia or a fear of mice. That leads me to wonder if the creation of Mickey and Minnie and eventually the whole kingdom/world of Disney wasn’t in fact an attempt to overcome his fear. He certainly imagined his fear as a cartoon and had fun with it.
If your fear has become a phobia, you know it isn’t rational, yet nothing you try seems to help eliminate it then it might be time to seek help. Hypnosis is a great tool for changing fearful into powerful!
Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Maybe it’s time for you to release the fear and live fully!
Working Women Of Florida hosted a conference on September  5th and 6th at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, FL. I was honored to be asked to speak on the subject of fear. Standing on the stage with 400 women present was an awesome experience. (Notice the picture at the top of this page.) The love and energy of this group of women inspired me to keep doing what I love most. I met some pretty amazing ladies, whom I hope to share with for a long time to come.
The presentation included the 5 “A’s” to remember when you desire to overcome fear. Those include:
  • Acknowledge
  • Awfulize
  • Appreciate
  • Ask (Afform)
  • Act
Acknowledge your fear and what it really represents for you. Is there a deeper reason for the fear? For instance, I once experienced a fear of driving that was more about a fear of success than it was about driving. Once I acknowledged that, I was ready to let that go and move forward!
Awfulize those dreaded experiences. In other words, take it to the extreme. That can help you realize that things aren’t going to be quite what you imagine. If in fact they are pretty bad, you might be surprised at the tools and skills you have in place for handling the situation.
 
Appreciate that in the past those feelings have served a purpose. Once you can accept and honor that, it is time to understand that you have outgrown other old behaviors (i.e. thumb sucking for comfort).  You no longer need these limiting thoughts and beliefs.
 
Ask questions that will help you. Rather than continuing to ask questions based in negative programming, begin to ask the questions that a changed you might ask. Instead of asking, “what if this went wrong”, imagine asking, “what if this went right”? (More information on questions that work for you can be found in the works of Noah St. John, originator of Afformations.)
Act on your new beliefs and understandings. To decide you have overcome a fear of elevators is great, to ride in one is real victory. Find someone you trust to support you in taking those first steps and celebrate the new you!


Take steps today to begin creating the life free of fear that you desire. Please, let me know your stories. I’d love to share your successes with others.

TRUST

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So many people are living in fear currently.

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.

It is time we refocus ourselves, paying attention to trust. I have created an acronym for trust that I think will help.

TRUST = Totally Releasing Unnecessary Scary Thoughts.

In this moment, are you safe? If so, then that is where you focus, because all any of us have is this moment. Recall or imagine a safe place. Notice the colors, the textures, the designs of this place. Notice the temperature, the aromas and the sweet sounds of serenity and calm. Allow this place to become real. Notice how in this place, in this moment, you are safe and secure and serene.

Notice how the body feels when this is your truth. Allow your mind to wander to a concern and wonder how it might be if that concern were behind you. How would you feel if you were free of that worry, if you had a solution to that puzzle?

I wonder if the waiting for the other shoe to drop is more what creates discomfort within you than the reality of the situation. All too often, after a “crisis” is over we realize that fear was in our heads, not our circumstances.

Allow your mind to drift past the event you have been concerned about and notice the outcome. What steps might you have taken to get to the desired outcome? What are the keys to your success?

Perhaps it starts with T.R.U.S.T.

Superstitions centering around the black cat are some of the most well-known and popular superstitions today. Depending upon where you live, the luck centered around the cat can be good luck or bad luck. Here in the States, a black cat crossing your path is considered by many to be bad luck.

Well, I am the not so proud owner of a black cat. Not so proud has nothing to do with any superstition or concern about my luck. She has crossed my path too many times to count. The only time it has been bad luck is when I have had the misfortune to not see her as I was stepping in that direction and end up tripping or falling. (I never promised to be graceful!) I am not so proud because this cat has it out for me!

She is the true pet of my oldest son. He named her Sassy and they have been devoted to one another since the day I reluctantly agreed to yet another pet in our household. My son named her Sassy, after a cat in a movie that was popular at the time, “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”. (Even as I went to type that name it became Homeward Pound, do you suppose that was Freudian?)

If my son is in the room and simply wags his finger, the cat runs to jump on his lap and purrs like a kitten. (Mind you she is 17 years old!) She sleeps on his bed when he is home, she sits in his window often when he is gone. Sassy is in love with my son. She will go to my youngest, when the oldest is missing for comfort. She even has a game with my husband, “Pet Daddy”. He sits on the couch, she at his side and when he says, “pet Daddy”, she reaches her little paw out to rub his tummy.

I clean her cat box. I feed her. I grow catnip for her. I buy her toys. I disgust this cat! She looks the opposite direction of wherever I may be. She sits on my papers, if I am working in the living room, then becomes annoyed with me if I reach out for one. She yowls at me in the morning when she wants to be fed.

I tried to convince my son to take her with him, so he wouldn’t be homesick when he left for college. He didn’t want her to get out if a roommate wasn’t aware in a new town. She mourned his moving, lost weight. I took her to the vets and bought a special weight improving food for her. Still, I disgust her.

I had a relative who was afraid of cats. A black cat crossing her path would send her into such strong fear, she would freeze and you could see her heart palpitate. She didn’t like pictures of cats, seeing any cat outside upset her. Now, that is more than a little superstition, that is fear! In a case like that, through hypnosis one can regress to the origin of such a fear and learn to overcome it. This relative also feared hypnosis, she didn’t understand it. What a shame, to live a life of fear.

For me, I just live a life of servitude to a Lucky Black Cat!

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