Are Your Fears and Anxieties Getting the Best of You?

When your fears and anxieties get the best of you and you are unable to control them, they will control you, leaving you in tatters and wondering what the heck happened. 

Learning how to manage your fears and anxieties gives you back your sense of power and control, allowing you to choose how to interact rather than simply react.

As you may have noticed thus far, I focus a lot on the value of becoming a witness to your own experience.  Learning to take a step back, rise above the experience, and witness from outside what is happening in any situation is a theme that runs throughout my work. Doing so allows you to make a reasoned and reflective response rather than a habitual or emotional reaction.

By witnessing one’s own experience at the same time it is happening, rather than only BEING IN the experience, we empower ourselves to make choices capable of serving our needs, goals and aspirations. I like to think of this as calling on our “higher” self (perhaps you call it God or Goddess, the name is irrelevant) to help us rise above our pain, our sorrow, our fear, our grief, whatever our emotional experience is, to bring heart-full guidance to a difficult situation. 

Here’s one simple but effective way to manage your fears and anxiety.

Start by writing down something you are feeling fearful or anxious about. 

1.  Feel the fear or anxiety.  Allow it to enter your body and feel it in your body.

2.  Become aware of how your body reacts. Scan your body from head to toe. Explore and notice what is happening in your body.  Are you clenching your jaw?  Tightening your fists?  Does your stomach hurt? 

3.  Pause and do nothing except observe your internal experience. 

4.  Pause again and continue to observe your internal experience! 

Personally, when I get really upset about an interaction, I return to my spiritual practice, sitting on my meditation cushion until the energy and emotions settle down and move through my body and I am no longer feeling reactive.  By simply watching the experience and being present with it, it can pass.

I also recommend that you journal about your experience.  Ask yourself what you are feeling and what your genuine wants and needs are (and by the way, in case you were wondering, being right is not a need!). Do not respond or do anything until you have clarity about this.  Also explore how the feeling is familiar to you. 

 Practice the above 4 steps again and again until the habit of pausing and reflecting replaces the habit of reacting.

Sometimes, when one experiences anxiety, it manifests as physical symptoms.  When this happens, naming the physical symptoms can be very helpful.  It may sound like:  “I am getting really hot; I am uncomfortable just being in my skin; my body can’t stop moving or shaking; my heart is racing.”

When I have asked people to name the physical symptoms they are having while in the middle of an anxiety attack, they calm down almost immediately.  Their heart rate slows, their temperature lowers, their entire demeanor changes.  When you are in a state of fear or anxiety, you are not present; you are in the future, worrying about what may or may not happen and stressing about what you can or cannot do about it.  That said, you and I are incapable of solving a future problem and can only deal with what is directly in front of us!  By returning to the present moment with your breath and by witnessing your present experience, your anxiety subsides as you stop thinking or worrying about the future.

If you are unable to manage your fears or anxiety, please seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional or speak with an alternative health care provider who can help you with tools and strategies to manage your fears and anxieties.  There is nothing “wrong” with you if you find yourself unable to manage them by yourself.  Divorce is one of the main stressors in a person’s life; it is perfectly normal and reasonable for things to feel out of control and to seek professional guidance to help you get through this most difficult time.

In support ~

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