Doing my monthly accounts has almost always thrown me into fear. Why is that?
Fear that I am ‘failing’, fear that I won’t be able to pay for this or that, that I will struggle. Fear that I will say no to my kids, that I can’t have nice things that I want. It doesn’t seem to matter what the numbers on the balance sheet are, fear grips me. Fear that my needs won’t be met and I’ll be, have, and do less. It doesn’t matter that I’m no worse off than I was before I did the sums this morning, that I am in a comfortable room with things I like in it and a slice of lime in my drinking water. Fear is here and the sky is falling in. That is my pattern and that is how my lack mindset becomes visible.
What do I do? My training is very clear about what I do.
- Feel the fear. Feel it in my body and acknowledge its there. Yes, I’m in fear. There’s that familiar grey blob beneath my sternum and tension in my shoulders. My body is buzzing with run-away energy. Yup, here it is. I surrender to the fact its here. This is tough but it’s here; fighting it, pretending it isn’t here and ignoring it does not work. Accept it and move on.
- Breath and love myself thru it. I take a few slow, deep breaths. I consciously relax my shoulders. Soften my face and jaw. Move my upper body a little to release the tightness. I speak to myself like I am the terrified child part of me is: “It’s OK. This is hard for you. Well done, you are doing great. Keep going. You are safe. This will pass.”
- Notice the now and recognise my fears are in the future. Crucially, the fear is all about what will happen in the future. It’s not now. If its now, that’s a different matter. But none of the things I fear have come to pass, they exist as potential out there is the future I cannot control. That’s why they are so scary, like hungry ghosts floating out there in a world I can’t control. I return my focus to the here and now, the only time in which I can act. I recognise that the only way to influence the future is how I behave right now. So, I take a few more deep breaths, activating all that relaxation biology as best I can.
- Choose again. Given where I am now, and where I want to go, what can I do now? One positive step. That’s all I am looking for. It might be self-care like a run or a bath, where I read something uplifting, smell the fresh air. I turn to face the direction that I choose. Over and over if necessary. If work is pressing, I might decide to work for half an hour being mindful of my delicately balanced emotions, moving slowly and mindful of my body, mindful of my courage to put a load of washing on in the midst of my fear.
This isn’t easy BUT its easier than the default system most of us use, which is to hide. Push it down and hide it and it will stay in you, bitter and unprocessed and rotting. That’s graphic I know, but its accurate. Chronic illness is the eventual outcome of our unprocessed suffering. By finding the courage to change your mind and face your fear you process it and it leaves. It’ll come back another day because the pattern probably won’t be healed overnight, but that’s a problem for another day. Keep these steps with you and when the fear hits, take them out and decide if you want to try something different. Acknowledge your pain, breath and love yourself more, come back to the here and now and choose again. Even if the best you can manage in the moment of your fear is to pull the duvet over your head, do it in a spirit of love and self-compassion. Drop the criticism that you should be doing this and that better and look after yourself. It’s OK. This is hard for you. Well done, you are doing great. Keep going. You are safe. This will pass.