Fear is hugely common in our culture these days, though we often don't recognize it as fear. Fear is:
* a tightening in our bodies
* a reaction to predicting bad things in the near or far future
* also known as worry, stress, anxiety, panic, obsession and terror
So why do I say that stress is a type of fear? Because most of what we're calling "stress" these days--which, by the way, we've more or less accepted as "normal"--is worry/fear that things won't work out, that we won't get what we need, that we won't be enough, etc.
How To Deal With Fear / Anxiety / Stress
* Name it as such
* Ask yourself whether it's realistic or not
* If it's realistic, either fix the problem/threat or soothe yourself
* Soothing can be physical, social or emotional
* If the fear is unrealistic:
* Acknowledge that it's unrealistic; that helps
* Ask the scared part of you what it really needs
* Soothe yourself (physically, socially or emotionally)
* See also the next session...
How To Have Less Fear / Anxiety / Stress
* Take care of problems as they arise. Ignoring them is a setup for lots of anxiety. We know when we're avoiding things, and we know they're going to come back to bite us.
* Accept the limits of your control. We spend a lot of time fretting about things we can't control; the alternative is to quit pretending we can predict or control them.
* Grieve bad things that have already happened. This also involves accepting reality (the bad thing happened) and not trying to control things we can't.
* Try to trace fears back to seeing yourself as unworthy. What? Well, certainly not all fears are about that, but given the relative safety we experience in America, many people's fears aren't the basic ones (starvation, violence, etc.), but are about subtler issues such as whether we're going to be acceptable and accepted. For example, someone's stressed (fear) while driving...turns out the fear is being late...which represents having blown it...which represents being seen by others as unacceptable and by oneself as unacceptable. That's what makes the drive stressful. So, in that situation, the person could realize the deeper layers of being "stressed" and then deal with them by taking responsibility for the mistake, but also reminding him- or herself that his/her worth as a person really is not hinging on this one issue of being late to this event.
Licensed psychologist, Austin