Let’s just get it out of the way. Fear is a 4-letter word we often do anything to avoid talking about, facing, or even thinking about.
I decided as I boarded the plane Christmas evening this was the perfect topic to write about. You see, I dread flying. My family knows it. In fact, when my kids were younger, I overheard them doing rock, paper, scissors to determine who was sitting next to me (this right here was the additional motivation I needed to work on this more). When I have flown alone the person sitting next to me knew it (I would apologize before taking off they may have gotten the unlucky seat). I will tell you, I have been so fortunate because I have always had kind people next to me.
This is not a new fear. We go way back. I do it though. I have my toolbox of tricks ready. Believe me, this fear has changed and shifted over the years. I have even done EMDR about it which helped a bunch! That’s right, when I did my Level 2 training in Boston, I chose this topic to work on during the weekend intensive.
Often, We Hear Fear Is Nothing More Than A Feeling Of Not Having Control
Now I recognize many of us work towards learning (and accepting) we truly have control over nothing but hopefully ourselves. However, fear can be so many other things to us. Naming what it is may be powerful. When we name it, we have something to explore and work with.
In addition to exploring what it may be, it is also helpful to have a relationship with it. Go ahead, please laugh. I’ll say it again, we need to have a relationship with our fears. Here’s the thing, we all may have tried to ignore it. Yet, in turning our attention away from the feared thing it has not gone away. In fact, quiet the opposite. It’s still knocking at you to listen.
Naming And Exploring Your Fears Hopefully Will Help You Be Able To Sit With It Versus Running From It
I’ll use my flying fear as an example to maybe help you explore a fear of yours. When I really took time to explore what was under my fear of flying it, what I discovered was I did not understand how the plane got and stayed in the air. I like to understand how things work. Well, that was information I could access and read about. Turbulence also creates strong discomfort in me. On one flight I asked a flight attendant what created the turbulence and that helped. Another thing I did was when I was a passenger in a car, I increased my mindfulness to be aware how it felt in the car. You guessed it. I felt “turbulence.” Now, when I fly, I try to remind myself this is the pilots highway. Hopefully creating a connection with your fear will help you be able to sit with it cersus running from it.
I’m writing this on the plane so there is no running from it. One of my tools is watching comedies as we have all heard laughter can be the best medicine. Before digging into my downloads, I checked out what was offered, and I hit the jackpot. Home Alone. I’m not a person who enjoys watching a movie or a television show more than once. This is my exception. It was the original one and this one I had not seen in a long time plus it was Christmas. It had been long enough since I had seen it that I completely forgot the scene between Kevin and the older gentleman who is his neighbor and prior to this conversation he feared him. Their conversation was about of four little word, FEAR. Without naming the term, what they referenced was facing it, exposing yourself to it so that the feared thing had less of a hold. The older gentleman shared a shamed felt area that he been struggling with in his life after Kevin got real how he had behaved over the last year as he waits on Santa to hopefully arrive.
Rather than continuing to avoid a challenging life area they exposed and discuss it. If you watch the movie soon, notice the increased calmness both appear after sharing. Now back to our learning ways to face our fears.
Let’s break down this 4-letter word so it’s less scary and something we can work with and through
We are not playing hide and go seek here. If we do not explore and expose ourselves to whatever it is, we are simply waiting for it to say “BOO” to you. I am not saying it is easy. If it was, we would not be having this conversation. Find one thing that has a bit of a fear hold on you. Got it? Let us see if you can think of baby steps to slowly face it. I’ll go along with you.
With my flying discomfort years ago, I spent some free moments at an airport which fortunately I love close to and found a perfect space to park in and would watch planes take off. This is one of my hardest parts with flying. If I did not have the luxury of living near an airport, I could have done things such as expose myself to videos of planes taking off or talk to others to recently had flown.
I also know someone who is a flight attendant and often before I fly, I ask her to please assure me. To be fully honest I have also asked flight attendants to assure me when I’ve needed it. You know what, they have always been more than assuring and gracious to me. They clearly are in the right job!
This is a hard one too. We often trip on it. We have expectations. Too often we try to encourage ourselves not to have them, but we may fall into the expectation trap. We often try to anticipate what may occur. Somehow, it helps us feel better. Calmer. I am not telling you something you do not already know. There is no magic life crystal ball. What I find is we are often hurt, confused, and maybe even frustrated when our expectations do not occur. Whether it is with a person or a situation.
I challenge you to place your expectations on a shelf. Now, if you are not ready to do that quite yet then let us encourage you to be realistic with your expectations. I did not expect watching planes take off and talking to my friend to wash away my fear away. What I had hoped was the more I exposed myself to watching planes take off it would help, and it did. Over time the slight pounding I often felt in my chest lessened. Remember Before I asked you to find one fear that has a bit of a hold on you? Think of it again for a moment. As you explore facing it what are your expectations? Are they realistic? Do you need to make some small adjustments?
Let us go back to the Home Alone movie for a moment. The gentleman acknowledged he had misgivings regarding a verbal exchange he and his adult son had many years prior. He went one step further and was vulnerable to share with Kevin why he had not phoned his son when asked by Kevin. You see, he was afraid his son would not talk to him. This fear perpetuated a distancing from him for years (now who really knows all the family dynamics). Kevin pointed out to his neighbor he did not truly know what would happen should he choose to place the call but his fear and hurt told him they would not connect in a positive way. I will not be a movie spoiler. What I will share is this man accepted the fear without trying to face it. In this situation, the loss on the line was family connectedness.
One more time, go back to your named fear. If you right now kept it as it is, what, if anything would be impacted?
This important word invites you to look at something in a new way. This plane is taking me to a location I have never seen and is helping me create new memories, connections, and unwind from a busy month. The thing I remind myself to remember is currently I need this flight to get me where I want to go. Something I am fearful of is providing me the opportunity to enjoy an experience I have been looking forward to for months. Okay, please go back to your feared space. Allow yourself to play with the idea of a reframe. What may it be? Here is a tip to give it more power. Take out a[i] sheet of paper and write it down. More than one come up for you? Great! Write them all down. Read them over. Daily. Breathe in the feared statement and exhale as you read aloud you reframe.
Thank-you for flying with me and settling in as we faced our fears. Almost anything that feels huge can be tackled when we give ourselves permission to break it into smaller, more manageable parts.
Finding facing your fears too challenging to do on your own and need some support and cheerleading? Let’s face them together. Call the office at 239-848-2022 to schedule an initial consultation or head over to my contact page to schedule. Read more about EMDR Therapy to see if it could be helpful for you.