Remember when you were very young? Did you like to "play" at being frightened? Are you around young children now? Most very young children love peek-a-boo and then a slightly graduated version of this game. The surprise, the little fright is exciting for them! Once they know they are safe, they just want to do it again. Think of your mind like this, how the mind amuses itself by being frightened. I know this may sound strange, but there is truth to what I share. When you begin to observe, and I mean really observe, your fear, it's not too bad (I am not minimizing chronic anxiety here, I understand that it is a debilitating experience)- until the mind gets involved. The mind finds a fear and is off and running with it - the “what-if’s”, the “oh my's” and the “not again's”. Notice how your fear feels, begin to examine the different kinds - fright, nervous excitement, dread, and worry. Once you develop friendliness with the feeling of fear, it becomes easier to work with the mental story lines that your mind attaches to the fears. These story lines are rarely true - for the moment you are experiencing right now. To be able to bring self back to the present moment is powerful and empowering. Rather than me offer an exercise here I will refer you to a wonderful blog posting of this week written by Oriah Mountain Dreamer entitled "Finding Encouragement". I am a subscriber to this blog, I find Oriah's writing extremely insightful. Click here for her simple process of coming back into the present moment. Practice this breathing and mindfulness exercise as often as you can. With practice, the mind learns the story lines are less interesting and attractive with time and with a new sense of inner calm that grows.
Finally, repeat to yourself, as often as you can - "I am more than my feelings. My fear is a useful emotion to keep me safe. I make great choices to keep myself safe."
This is what fear is useful for. Are you making great choices to keep yourself safe? If you are, then this exercise will help you all by itself. If not, then the next steps are: begin to examine your choices that do not keep you feeling safe and healthy, then choose differently. Keep practicing and choosing carefully, moment-to-moment.