We are all born with natural fears. The fear of falling. The fear of not having basic needs met. Fear of loud noises. As we grow up, we all experience wounding at a deep level. Eventually, that wounding translates to some deep-seeded fears as well. We all have them. Some of us have them so bad that they’re downright debilitating. Yet, in our culture, we don’t really teach others how to deal with fear.
I was in a staff meeting after school. A few coworkers got up to do a presentation. At the end of their presentation, they suggested that the teachers come to me for help. At this point, I decided to chime in with a few anecdotes that I thought would be helpful.
Right after I shared my bit, I noticed that the whole room fell silent. 50+ coworkers of mine, and it was quiet. That’s when my inner lizard (all my toxic fear thoughts) showed up.
Oh geez. I can’t believe this. They’re all thinking that I suck! Well, that’s just fine. I think they suck right back. I don’t need them. In fact, they don’t deserve what I have to offer. What if what I have to offer really does suck? Oh man. They’re all saying things under their breath about me. I can’t wait to leave this job.
Feeling Stressed? Fear got the best of you?
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When fear decides to show up
One of the first steps in learning how to deal with fear is understanding what it looks like when it shows up in everyday life. I’m not sure about you, but when fear shows up for me, it is in the form of rejection. I don’t want to feel rejected, so I figure I’ll get a jump-start on not being rejected by rejecting everybody else first.
This was when knowing my pattern really came in handy. Although part of me was super busy beating me up, the part of me that is TRUE was able to stand by and witness what was really happening. I realized that I needed to change the story I was telling myself.
Just because the room was quiet doesn’t mean they were talking about me. My coworkers actually respect me and value my expertise. I know this because they come to me and they ask for my professional opinion.
The reason I wanted to share this story with you is that there will be times when fear will get the best of you. In those times, know that it is possible to take the thoughts that are causing you frustration, shame, guilt, or paralysis and turn them around to reveal what is really true in a situation.
Fears show up in different ways.
In her TED Talk entitled One Simple Trick to Overcome Your Biggest Fear, Ruth Soukup discusses the 7 Fear Archetypes and the ways that each one will play out in your life, as well as how to deal with fear.
Fears can show up in the form of perfection (procrastination), or worrying that you’re not going to be liked (people pleasing). They may show up in the form of stalling out due to the fear of not doing things the right way (rule following). They can show up as an overwhelming sense that things won’t work out (self-doubt), a belief that everything/everyone is always against you (excuse making), worry that it’ll never be right (pessimism), or…like me…fear of being rejected (outcast).
However fear shows up for you, it is important that you:
- Notice the thoughts that you’re having
- Give yourself some time with them and notice the way they make you feel
- Allow the “witness” part of you to simply observe your inner lizard (toxic thought monster) doing its thang
- Thank your inner lizard for trying desperately to keep you safe (because that’s what it really is doing). I use a wonderful technique that I share in this post: Overcome Anxiety With This Quick Tip
- Examine the thought: Is it true? Is there any way you could know that it’s true? What happens when you believe that thought? Can you see any reason to drop the thought (you don’t HAVE to). Take some time with this.
- See if you can turn the thought around and change your story. What is the opposite of that thought? Can you find evidence that this is true instead?
I hope that this can help you out next time you find yourself in “Fear-Based Toxic Thought Land of the Lizards”, try this out and let me know if it did its job in showing you how to deal with fear.
And for more on how you can deal with toxic negativity, feel free to check out this post: How to Stay Positive When You’re Surrounded by Negativity.
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