If you are a Star Wars fan, you might remember in Episode One, Anakin stands before the Jedi Council and Yoda says, “I sense much fear in you. Fear is the path to the Dark Side.” Here is a clip.
The more I have worked with people through the years, the more I realize fear is at the core of much of our anxiety and depression. We fear how our past actions are perceived by others and lament. We fear failing in our current action. We fear what may or may not happen in the future.
One definition of FEAR is “Future Events Appearing Real.”
Fear makes us anxious and angry. When we give fear a foothold in one area, it has a way of taking over our lives. When it does, we are overwhelmed by anxiety, which partners depression.
Without conscious management on our parts, fear can permeate our thoughts and poison our relationships and our ability to function. But we can “retrain” our minds and rewire our brains. Here’s how:
Notice your thoughts
Stop. Take a deep breath. Notice all that thoughts in your mind. Notice how often your interpretation of events is automatically negative. That’s your brain’s defense mechanism. It’s called Negativity Bias. It protect us and keeps us safe. However, unregulated, it can cause fear and anxiety.
Here is another video to help understand the concept of Negativity Bias.
Becoming aware of these thoughts is the first step toward changing them. Once we notice, we stop automatically believing and acting on our thoughts. We have a choice.
Reframe the thought
Notice each and every negative thought and transform it. Yes, even if it’s “true.” There is ALWAYS another, more empowering way to see the situation, which is at least as true.
Another way to practice reframing is to identify and label the intrusive thought. Scale (1-10) how true it is or how likely it is to happen. Then create a more accurate thought.
Another way is to imagine the best outcome. Hope for the best outcome. Prepare for the worst. Realize the truth will most often fall somewhere in between. If you are prepared for the worst, you will be confident you can make it. Which leads us to the last tool to defeat fearful thoughts.
When you find yourself manufacturing negative scenarios, reprogram your unconscious mind by suggesting a happier ending. Imagine what you want to have happen. Write it out. Visualize it. Engage your senses in the imagination. You’ll be surprised at how happy your unconscious mind is to oblige.