When is being afraid of an elephant not about the elephant?

Everyone has fears they would like to conquer. The fear of roller-coasters, the fear of spiders, the fear people, and the fear of elephants. Some people ignore it. Some run away from it. Others have no choice but to face their fear.

What I have discovered is that fear is a cascading set of smaller events and actions that build up into a suffocating tidal wave. And often those actions and events occur so fast with such subtlety that they are hard to recognize in the moment. It requires a lot of deep thinking and replaying of events in your mind. Step by steps. Until you can determine with some assurance that you’ve discovered the trigger. That one moment that when your body suddenly stopped functioning. And the fight or flight response kicks in and determines flight is the best course of action.

For me, building habits to adapt to these events is what has worked. And these events are usually made of three components: expect (predict), keep calm, avoid.

When I find myself in a similar situation I try to predict what will happen next, expect that particular event to occur. Then I breathe to keep calm waiting for Armageddon to let loose. And I enact my avoidance measures; take evasive manoeuvres to avoid an event collision until I’m past it. Over time I’ve been able to build resistance over these events.

But be warned that while you may have defeated one event, there most surely will be more hiding behind it. The trick is to write down all these discoveries and resolutions in a journal to help program them into your subconscious. Remind yourself of these on a daily basis to build them into habits.

Self-Reflection

As you build on these fear busting habits, you’ll eventually start seeing a clearer path ahead. It takes time. A lot of self-reflection. And a lot of emotional turmoil. If you feel emotionally raw after a session, then that means it’s working. It’ll take a few days for your emotional system to rebuild itself. It’s like you’ve thrown a fork in your emotional soup and stirred it; a lot.

It’s important to write everything down; just reflecting on it isn’t enough. You need to let your knowledge pass through as many senses as possible. Write it down. Read it. Speak it. Hear it. Draw it if you must. Art is a great way to open up the pores to the subconscious.

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