Have you ever been paralyzed by your fears? Often our responses to negative events are based on fear! Other strong emotions like anger or sadness are sometimes the frosting covering fear.

Fear is powerful…. Fear of change…. Fear of the unknown…. Fear of people who are different from us…. Fear of making a mistake and looking foolish…. Fear of loss…. Fear of death…. Fear of taking risks and living life to the fullest.

Our body’s response to fear triggers adrenaline to surge through our veins. Adrenaline is the chemical that produces the fight/flight response. It causes us to breathe fast and shallow. This organic response allows us to escape dangerous situations by sending blood to our extremities in order to run from, or face off the immediate threat. All animals have this survival response.

So let’s say you recognize that your fear is not a valid threat. Real or imagined, your body is responding with intense physical and emotional energy. An effective way to control your response is to consciously slow your breathing pattern and shift to slow, deep belly breathing. This simple change sends the message to the brain that all will be well. We are not wired to simultaneously breathe slowly/deeply and be anxious.

Self awareness of your fears, real or imagined, is critical in order to manage them. Deep breathing, relaxation techniques, meditation, positive self-talk, social support, and exercise have been shown to be effective in managing fear, anxiety and panic before it takes over. These behavioral changes take time to incorporate into your life style and provide long term relief from anxiety. The small shift of belly breathing will get you through an anxious moment. If the fear is real, it will allow you to calm yourself enough to respond appropriately. Imagined fears are just as debilitating, but limiting in other ways, by not allowing us to live fully.

One way fear may be keeping you bound is by staying in unhealthy relationships. We often stay with what we know even if it is making us unhappy. It feels safer to put up with outrageous circumstances, rather than step into the unknown. It is sometimes referred to as “deadly hope”, when we keep wishing for things to change, when there is great evidence to the contrary. The fear of being alone can be crushing, but ask yourself this: “What is lonelier than being in an unhappy relationship?”

Fear makes us stay in jobs that are not right for us. “What if” thinking keeps us in a negative loop and prevents us from seeing the possibilities of a positive career change.  But how would it feel to enjoy going to work every day? Taking a risk and opening ourselves to new opportunities, can be life changing.

Try this experiment. Step out of your comfort zone and speak to someone you don’t know in the checkout line. Stop and help a person who needs an extra hand in that moment. Greet someone who is different from you on the diversity spectrum. Observe how it feels to take a small risk in a social situation.

Often really amazing events occur in our lives. When we are trapped in fear, we cannot see them. Make this critical change…. open your eyes to loving events. Unexpectedly, we meet someone who teaches us a valuable lesson. Random acts of kindness between creatures take place every day. Once you start to recognize divine moments in your day, you will be astonished at how frequently they actually present themselves. As you recognize such events, fear subsides and allows us to continue to attract the positive moments we all crave. We’ll be open to receive the gifts.