“Hey Paul! I have a question: I really enjoy your posts about tackling and overcoming fear. I think more people should talk about this! At this stage in my life my biggest fear has been uncertainty. The unknown. What direction will my life be taking next week, next month, 3 years from now…. How does one tackle this particular fear? I’m guessing you have gone through tumultuous and uncertain times (as we all have), so I’m interested to hear your view on how you tackle/tackled it everyday?” – Melissa Wynn
Thanks for the question Melissa. A tough one and the answer I am about to give you may be a little weird but here it goes. Simply put, the trick is to not worry about it too much. Not helpful I know, but let’s explore it a little more. When we truly examine our emotions at a feeling level we quickly begin to notice that at the fundamental core there are only 2 real feelings. These are Love and Fear. The emotional response to either of these feelings is dictated by our judgement of the stimulus creating that feeling. Because of this, we have the ability to control our emotional response to any outside influence if we choose to. The body’s physical and sensational response to a positive or negative stimulus is the same regardless of the judgement we place on the situation but it is our judgement of the situation that influences our experience. Fear of the unknown and excitement of the unknown are fundamentally the same feeling but have different emotional reactions because of our own perception of the situation we are facing. Therefore we are fully in control of that emotional response. Change your perception and the rest takes care of itself.
Here is a simple exercise you can do to help manage the emotional response. It is a mindfulness exercise that can be helpful to process any type of emotion by exploring the fundamental physical response your body is having to any situation. Close your eyes and visualise the situation in your mind. Breathe deeply through your nose and start to notice how your body is reacting. Feel on a physical level all the sensations of your body. Now let that feeling be what it is and feel it fully without any judgement. Let it grow and move through your body. It is important not to attach any thoughts or preconceptions to that feeling. Just let it be. As you breathe and feel it let it move and dissipate and when you are ready, open your eyes. This can be done for a specific situation or can be practiced every day just to get in touch with how you are feeling and to centre yourself.
Of course, everything I have said is easy in theory and vastly oversimplified, but just like a muscle, our minds need training and the more we choose to work it the easier it becomes. The simple exercise of noticing how you feel in response to any stimulus is a big step towards expanding your comfort zone and just doing that can already create a massive shift in your perspective. I hope this helps and would love to hear back from readers if they have their own thoughts on the topic.
P.S. If you would like to ask me a question on any topic (except religion and politics) please feel free to submit it here or comment below. I would love to hear from you. Likewise, please feel free to comment with your thoughts and share with your friends.