Fear cuts deeper than swords
George R. R. Martin
For a lot of ignorant people, anxiety is mainly in the head. In fact, parents have ridiculed their children for ‘creating drama’ when they showed symptoms of Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety is a serious issue, and one that needs to be understood and dealt with.
Biologically speaking, anxiety is a physiological, psychological, and behavioural state that a body goes in when it feels threatened- like a fight-or-flight situation. This threat could either be actual or potential. Most of the time the threat is indeed potential namely ‘in the head’, but the body reacts to it as if it is actual. So, while the mind can think up any threatening situation that might never happen, the body’s reaction is the same as it would be in an actual threatening situation.
While being anxious is a state, the emotion that governs it is fear. The word fear is often used in conjunction with anxiety, but it is also the foundation on which anxiety grows.
So, is Fear really that abnormal and harmful?
Most of us have felt paralyzing fear when asked to address a large group of people or present a report. Or there have been life-threatening incidents where feeling anything but fear would be abnormal. This fear is justified, but what about the fear that leads to anxiety.
Although the emotion is the same, the threat is not actual. You fear things that are either not going to happen at all or the chances of it happening is remote. Not just that, the compulsive fear that something might happen in the case of an anxiety is not normal. And if you learn how to deal with fear and to calm your nerves when you are afraid, that will help reduce anxiety by leaps and bounds.
How can you curb fear?
Think Positive Thoughts– This is easier said than done. When you are feeling anxious, it is because you are thinking primarily negative thoughts, you are concentrating on everything that can go wrong. How can you then think positive thoughts? To turn your brain from negative to positive, you need to make a conscious effort.
When you are plagued by these negative fear-inducing thoughts, try to challenge the belief behind it. This is a very useful strategy by Anthony Robbins. In his book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’, he explains how challenging the belief behind negative thoughts will weaken it. And once weakened, it is easier to replace them by positive ones. So for instance if you are worried that what if someone enters your door with a knife in hand, challenge this thought by asking ‘but how can they when the doors are bolted’ or ‘my parents are right next door’. Once you start feeling that the negative thoughts are giving away, immediately try to think positive thoughts.
Talk to someone you trust- When people are afraid, any kind of support feels god-sent. People who suffer from anxiety attacks must try to network and form a support group. Or you can simply talk to a good friend. In fact, you don’t need to deliberate on the cause of your fears or even the situation you are in, just talk normally and strike up a conversation to get your mind off everything.
Calm yourself- When fear is the predominant emotion you feel, you heart rate shoots up and you start feeling dizzy. To feel calm in this situation might seem impossible but to tackle fear, it needs to be replaced by a feeling of calmness.
Deep breathing is the oldest trick in the book. Additionally, you can also write down your fears to calm yourself down. Exercising again works wonders, not only does some physical activity will shift the focus of your brain but the chemicals released in your brain on exercising helps with anxiety and fear.
Tackle the root of the problem– This might help a select group of people, but once you identify the root of this fear, you will be in a better position to deal with it. For some people, there is a vivid childhood or adolescent memory associated with anxiety and fear. If you can trace the source back to one incident or a relevant environment which led you towards anxiety, tap on it.
Just sit in an isolated place and try to focus on this incident. Try to connect with the younger you and try to help this younger version of you feel comforted in this situation. This lessens the blow of the incident on your younger self and hence upon the present you. This takes time and you will have to make effort to connect with the younger you, but it helps immensely.
Fear is an emotion, and like all emotions you can’t get rid of it permanently. You can only control it, curb, it, not let it hover over you and once you do that you can easily deal with anxiety and panic attacks as well.