A wiser way to deal with fear

Last week I wrote about how people use fear to make us act. This week I bring you advice for facing those fears (and other inner defense mechanisms).

I am participating in a six-week online workshop, and Thursday’s session is what I want to share. The speaker’s name was SARK. Really. (It’s an acronym for her four-part name). Her session was titled, “Out of Your Heart and Onto the Paper.” Briefly, her story goes something like this: Wrote a book when she was 10; never did anything with it; got abused by a family member; and spent 25 years not writing anything. Then, she changed her way of thinking and published 16 books in the next 22 years. Today, she is writing 4 books at one time.

What prevented her from pumping out books for 47 years instead of 22? Fear and inner criticism. What changed? She stopped trying to silence the fears and started to acknowledge them. She sat down, invited them into the room, interviewed them, and wrote down what they told her. Then she went back to work.

Our inner critics are important. “They are there to protect us, but they’ve grown out of proportion,” said SARK. Inside us all are voices such as the perfectionist, the do-more pusher, and the worried skeptic. They need to be acknowledged and cared for, but you must remember that your “wise self” is really the one in control. And if you don’t acknowledge the bad thoughts, they’ll continue to clamor for your attention, eventually becoming so loud, they’ll cripple you with depression or another ailment.

To change your way of thinking when something (however tiny) is bothering you, she recommends writing down as many words as you can to complete the sentence, “I feel…” I feel angry. I feel stomped on. I feel scared. I feel inadequate. Sometimes that acknowledgement may be enough. “The problems are still there, but you’ll have changed your perspective,” said SARK.

To take it further, write down a refrain to everything on that list. Something like, “I am in control.” Finally, don’t forget to also write down the good things that happen to you in a day. SARK says that eventually you won’t need to write things down … you’ll have reprogrammed the way you deal with fear.

“Feel the sad [angry/fearful/critical] feelings, but don’t spend so much time there.” says SARK.

SARK’s books and workshops offer a more detailed explanation if you want to know more. In the meantime, I’m going to start taking her advice. What about you?