Sunday, November 2, 2014

11/3/14—Relanguaging Fears

I talk to myself. That probably doesn't surprise anyone who knows me. But I talk to myself the most when I'm having fears. 

Most of my fears are about fear of failure. Fear of screwing up really badly. Fears around money. Fears of the unknown. Fear of risk. Fear of illness. Even fear of success. None of these things are unusual. But I don't know how other people handle them. I only know what I do. 

I have created a practice around them. And that is that, when the fears come up, I have something prepared inside my head to make myself feel better and make the fears go away. I call it relanguaging, but it's really just talking myself out of the fear. 

The first part is the hardest, and that's becoming consciously aware that fear has taken hold and that your head is filling up with fearful thoughts. Sometimes people walk around filled with fear and they're not consciously aware. So the first step is to stop and recognize when you're feeling this fear. Then determine what you're afraid about. Then tell yourself one of your prepared things like a mantra until you replace the fear with confidence. 

So here are some of the things I might say to myself when I'm afraid:

--"The universe (or God) didn't lead you here to fail."
--"You've never come across anything in your life you couldn't handle, why would this be different?"
--"You've gained benefit from everything that's ever happened in your life. There's no reason why that shouldn't continue."
--"You are blessed and guided by love."
--"Everything is here to help you grow."
--"It's all good."

For difficult things, like fears of utter financial destruction, I have already worked out contingencies—Plan As, Plan Bs and other solutions. This calms the fears because the worst case scenarios are never as bad as I fear. 

Coming up with worst case scenarios is a valuable tool. I learned this back when I started freelancing. My worst case scenario then, for example, was "I get a job." Now, as horrific as that option might be, it is a reasonable worst-case scenario. The dramatic scenario would be "end up homeless and whoring my body for spare change." And if that's how you want to play it, I suppose you could. But for most of us, there are other more realistic options. Like getting another job, even if it doesn't pay as much. Or moving to a place where jobs are more plentiful. Or moving in with a relative. Or getting a roommate. Once you start considering all the options, you see how unlikely the fear of homeless whoring really is. 

You also see you have far more options than you think you have. When you don't think out all your options, then of course fear is going to have power over you. You haven't set up a defense against it. In my freelancing example, seeing as how I had just had a job, getting another wasn't as awful as it seemed. Which made me feel better. And which gave me my power and confidence back. The "big risk" of quitting my job (and I won't pretend it's not a big risk) shrunk in my imagination when I realized that failure would just land me right back where I started. Now, when you make the decision to go out on your own, that's a horrible outcome, but not insurmountable. 

Nothing that I can think that's worth having comes without a risk. And with risks, come fear. But you don't have to let that fear control you. Over the summer I did some thinking on some worst case scenarios with some fears I was facing and you know what I came up with? That my worst-case scenario was something that would force me to leave my safety zone and begin the part of my life I have been slowly moving toward for quite some time! I went from the internal fear of homeless whoring to the worst-case probability of living my dreams! All because I stopped to think of what would really happen. Sometimes our worst fears are just there to guide toward our dreams. 


  1. Getting more aware of my anxious feelings and my fears is something I am working on continuously but especially this time of the year. Maybe because I am also afraid of the dark? :)
    I like your idea of relanguaging. That can be ever so helpful. I am going to think of some of sentences in my own language

  2. Good thought about the dark. Just repeating "the universe is a safe place" has saved me from spiraling into crazy...haha. Whatever words you choose, just believe them and say them to yourself until you remember you believe them. :)