"Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained." - Arthur Somers Roche.
We all know the infamous quote "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." But I didn't realize until last week that the quote was said by President Roosevelt in 1933, the last time the economy was so volatile. That quote makes more sense now than ever before. Over the past few weeks, we've all felt fear rear its ugly head. Whether you experienced it as general nervousness over your job, or fits and bursts of pain in your belly, or crippling anxiety that knocks you to your knees, fear affects everyone.
Ironically, I'm a yoga teacher and I teach calmness for a living; but I have terrible bouts of anxiety. For instance, if I'm stressed and I get an unpleasant email, one negative thought after another fast becomes an avalanche in my mind. It's almost impossible to think straight and I even find it hard to breathe. For lack of better words, anxiety SUCKS. And with all the craziness in the media, I've had more anxiety attacks in the past few weeks than I've had in the past few years combined.
So after much research, prayer, yoga, and faith, I've developed 3 ways to perceive and respond to fear. If you also find fear to be a problem in your day-to-day life, check out the following:
1. Fear is a Rip Tide
"Never fear shadows... they simply mean there's a light shining somewhere nearby." Anonymous
Think about when you are swimming in the ocean. There's a strong current sucking you away from shore. The trick is to swim, not directly against the current, but laterally along the shoreline. Once the current subsides, it's safe to swim back to shore. The same goes with fear. When you feel the nervousness and anxiety coming on, if you try to fight it, it wears you out. So just swim along the shore until the fear passes. In other words, step away from whatever you're doing, lie down, and do as little as possible. As Christopher Rice said, "It [fear] can only taunt me, it cannot take me, just tell me where to go. I can either follow, or stay in my bed."
2. Fear is a Weed
"Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom." Marilyn Ferguson
When gardening, you must pull the weed all the way from its roots. If you just pull the top of the weed, obviously it'll grow right back. The same goes with fear. It's important to feel the very core of your fear. Next time something comes up that causes fear, relax, surrender, and sink to the depth of the feeling. In the midst of fear, be aware what you think about, notice how you physically respond, dare to venture to the eye of the storm. Dorothy Thompson said, "Fear grows in darkness. If you think there's a bogeyman around, turn on the light."
3. Fear is a Dirty Vase
Sometimes I'll smell something rotting in my house. After searching the trash, the sink, and every nook and cranny, I'll finally realize it's the dirty vase of flowers that smells so badly. Naturally, I'll empty the dirty water, replace it with fresh water, and all is good. When we experience prolonged periods of fear-based emotion like stress, we accumulate dirty water in our system. We feel that "dirty water" as exhaustion, tension, nervousness. If we can empty ourselves out and create the time and space to relax, soon enough, fresh, revitalizing energy will move through us. It's simple. No need to look near and far for the answer to fear. Just create space. As Mary Webb said, "The well of Providence is deep. It's the buckets we bring that are small."
By David Romanelli (Yeah Dave)
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