For most of you who know me, you also know that I am on a constant quest to improve my mind/body/spirit. I want to address the issue of fear, a thought we often have that could tear us down or lift us up.
There are so many ways we encounter fear. Some are “normal” fight or flight experiences we have when facing any kind of apparent danger. Some fears are just that, and don’t step in the way of our lifestyle. In fact, they help protect us from danger and pain.
But then there is Irrational Fear, a feeling that can stop you from living your normal, daily life. This can be a fear so strong, it effects not only your mind, but your entire body. It is considered Irrational Fear when it occurs without any apparent real danger.
I want to illustrate an example of how I personally overcame one such fear that used to paralyze me. I want to share it with you because it was a long journey until I found a solution freed me from this anxiety and fear.
When I was a kid, I just loved to watch lightning storms. I would sit in the entrance way in our home with my dad and watch the spectacular show mother nature would give us. I was never afraid of lightning and thunder.
Then, while on vacation at the Jersey Shore, there was a magnificent storm. Dad and I sat in a screened-in porch at the resort to watch. We had a birds eye view of the violent ocean crashing and the lightning hitting the water.
Then Boom….. The building was hit by lightning. I flew across the porch one way and dad went in the opposite direction. All the adults were screaming, but I pleaded “Do it again…Do it again!” It was so awesome to me as an eight year old child to be blown out of my chair and land on my butt several feet away. Dad kept calm and told me not to listen to the adults that were afraid. I felt safe!
Years went by and I remember working in New York City on the 23rd floor of a building. Wow, when there was a storm there I enjoyed watching those lightning bolts smash into the buildings as my co-workers huddled in a corner. I felt safe!
Then came the day that I was 6 moths pregnant. It happened in my first home. My husband at that time, and I, were busy arranging our new house. Then came an electric storm. Surprisingly, I found myself huddling under the dining room table. My body was in full fear mode. Palms sweating, I was shaking and in full panic mode. All the while thinking to myself “What a fool I must look like under this table.” But I did not feel safe!
Now I have some suspicion why this happened. It could have been because I was in protective mode carrying a child. It could have been because my husband (ex-husband now) was an abusive person. I thought it could be a transference mechanism, taking the fear of my husband’s abuse and transposing it onto a natural event that most people would fear anyway.
Whatever the case, my fear did not go away. It lasted many years. Rather than enjoying the spectacle of a summer storm, I would find myself in the basement at the slightest sound of thunder, or the flash of lightning. My body would go into severe panic and sometimes I would become physically ill.
I tried therapy, I tried hypnosis, but to no avail.
I couldn’t go out if there was a chance of a storm. I closed all the windows and unplugged everything when a storm was approaching. I even went to the lengths of setting up a “safe place” in the basement with a battery-powered radio and lantern because I was so afraid of using electricity during a storm.
I just couldn’t take it any longer.
This was one thing in my life that kept holding me back. Fear and I do not mix well. I was so angry at myself that I had to go on a quest to finally end it.
It was not until I went for EMDR sessions that I broke through this irrational fear! My therapist used a rapid eye movement technique. It was accompanied by suggestions of overcoming that horrible intensified fear. I was armed with “catch phrases” to reinforce my new state of mind.
I still practice my “catch phrases” whenever I encounter a lightning storm. But now it does not paralyze me. It no longer interferes with my life in the same way.
Now, I can lead a normal lifestyle even if there is a chance of a storm in my area. Now I can practice the technique I have learned to reinforce it by breathing and repeated my catch phrases. Now I am FREE!
In my next post I will explain the process of EMDR and how well it works on many people.
So, do you have an irrational fear? One that stops you in the tracks of your daily living? Or is it fear of success, speaking in public, or even writing a blog post?
I invite you to share your thoughts and feelings about this.
Image credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/photo_16511320_cartoon-character-in-a-panic-attack.html’>yeletkeshet / 123RF Stock Photo</a>