How to Face Your Fears

face your fearsA recent email conversation about facing your fears:

I’m really sad that I can’t get a handle on my anxiety and feel it is never gonna go away. How do you as a mentor actually face your fears?

I make myself go into the situation- for example church. I used to have panic attacks in church so bad that I stopped going. It made me really sad at the time because I used to feel so comfortable and wonderful in church. It was something I really, really missed.

Once I learned I had to face my fears I decided to make it a goal to learn how to go back to church- to actually sit there and learn not to be afraid anymore. In order to do this, I had to Do It Afraid.

This is how I do it-  I go to church and sit in a pew where I would normally have a panic attack- which is any row towards the front, in the middle.

Then I sit there and wait to have a panic attack. I know full well I am going to be afraid, but I know that if I just face my fears and sit there, the panic feeling will come and go. It will go away.

Before I go to church, I prepare myself. I go knowing I am going to be anxious, I know it is very likely I am going to actually have a panic attack.

So before I go, I do a boatload of positive affirmations and visualizations, prayer, meditation, self hypnosis, read my books, whatever I need in order to go there.

If I don’t prepare, I wont be able to do it. Heck I wont be able to go, I’d be too scared.

So once I have prepared, I go to church full well knowing:

  1. I will probably have a panic attack
  2. I will be ok

So when the panic starts, I don’t turn away from the feelings. I face my fears: I let the panic come. It makes me feel like I am going to projectile vomit, and I feel like I will bolt out of my seat and have to climb over all the other people to get to the exit.

I LET the crazy feelings come. My heart is HAMMERING. … and then I say to myself:

“Go ahead, Jill, vomit and go crazy. Do it NOW”

…..And then- instead of madness and insanity, a miracle happens: the panic goes away!!!!

I did this for a few weeks and guess what? I can go to church now and sit anywhere I want. And the crazy feelings and panic don’t come anymore.

The more I face my fears, the less I have panic. In fact, it is hard to stay scared of church (for example) when I actually sit there and face the fear, because all things I am so scared of- (vomiting, fainting, going crazy), never ever happen. The panic just goes away! The key is knowing it will go away, and that what I fear will never happen.

It is a big Bluff! It isn’t real! Does that make sense? Let me know.xx

I have just laughed my socks off at the thought of you vomiting while jumping over people going insane. It just reminds me of me but I get the rabbit in headlight look of terror also. I agree totally it is a big bluff. Thanks for explaining so succinctly.

Learning to face your fears is a gradual process and it takes practice and repetition. I realized years ago that in order for me to recover from panic attacks and have the kind of life I wanted, I would have to do this. and yet I was too afraid to even try. So I stayed anxious and paralyzed for years.

Facing your fears is scary stuff. And I have to remember to be really gentle and loving with myself in the process. That is a key :)

Aimee from The Reality of Anxiety said it wonderfully well: “Endure it well- You don’t have to be all better today.”

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

ps.- I have had tremendous success with the 60 Second Panic Solution program- it gave me the extra push I needed to go out and actually do this important exposure therapy which is what facing your fears is all about.

photo credit

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