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How To Manage Fear
by Serge Kahili King

Before you can manage fear, you have to know more about it.

Physiologically, fear is expressed by a tightening of muscles and a rush of adrenaline, exactly as if you were getting ready for some big physical effort, like running. Emotionally, fear is expressed by a feeling that something very important is about to happen.

Mentally, fear is expressed by imagining that what is about to happen is not only important, but very bad. This imagination can be based on what you see in front of you, or it can be based on memories of sight, sound, and/or touch related to something bad.

Because the physiological and emotional aspects of fear are almost identical to the physiological and emotional aspects of positive excitement, it is the mental part that plays the most important role. It's hard to tell anxiety and excitement apart without the imagination.

When we say we are "feeling fear" we are really feeling the combination of tension and adrenaline, anticipation, and imagination. When we have a habit of interpreting the first three as meaning fear, we don't even need imagination.

When my mother was alive I had to be careful about phoning her when I was excited about something good, because as soon as I said, "Mom!" she would say "What's wrong!" Never once that I remember did she expect something good.

If we can physically relax our muscles when fear comes up, the fear will disappear. The concept is easy to demonstrate in a class by having students relax and then trying to use memory or imagination to bring about the feeling of fear without tensing any muscles. The students are usually astonished that it can't be done. However, to do this consciously when you are in a fearful state takes a great deal of physical awareness and knowledge of the difference between the sensations of tension and relaxation. With lots of practice it can be learned.

Another way is to focus all or most of our emotional energy into the present moment when fear comes up. To the degree we can do that, the fear will disappear. This requires the development of a high degree of environmental sensory awareness, but with lots of practice this can be learned, too.

Unfortunately, even these techniques can be messed up by the mind. Fortunately, learning how to change the mind is a lot easier than learning how to change the body or the emotions. Here are some ways to change the mind that work very well for managing fear.

The Positive Whatif: A lot of fear gets out of control because we get locked into the idea of "What if (something bad) happens?" It becomes a trap when we just keep wondering without making any specific plans for that.

A surprisingly easy way out is to immediately ask yourself, "But what if something good happens instead?" It might sound too easy, but you may be amazed at how well it works. It does work because it forces a shift to a positive expectation or memory. That shift leads to a relaxation of tension and a calming of emotion that helps the fear disappear.

The One-Inch Belief: This requires just a little preparation. All you have to do is decide to believe something--even just one thing--without any doubt, then put it into a phrase of five words or less. Some examples are "Love is good," "The sky is blue," "I am here right now."

It can be anything that you can believe without doubt. Make it simple enough that you can recall it whenever you want. Then, when fear comes up, just repeat that belief to yourself until the fear goes away or diminishes. You may be surprised at how fast that happens.

The Positive Thoughtform: This refers to imagining something surrounding you or next to you that provides a sense or a feeling of confidence. Some people will immediately think of what they call a "White Light of Protection," but I don't recommend that.

Surrounding yourself with a "light" of protection only reinforces the fear. A light or a cloud or a field of power, confidence, energy or love would work much better. You can even imagine nearby companions of some kind to give you courage or help.

There are many more possibilities, but these few can get you started. As a final word I would like to address the idea that fear is natural and can somehow protect us from harm. I most definitely disagree with that idea.

Humans are so creative that they can make use of fear, as they can most anything else, but just because fear can be useful to some who know how to use it, doesn't mean that it's natural or necessary.

Fear isn't natural. It has to be learned. And we don't need fear to avoid danger. We need knowledge, creative imagination, and fast reflexes. Fear is born out of helplessness. Fear starts to die with the birth of awareness, skill and confidence.

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