I’m petrified with fear, what can I do?

When we feel fear, it’s as if we’d do anything to get out of that state – “What can I do, just to make it stop.” But, we still want the prize, we want to get through that big presentation… and at that moment a big fight starts up inside our heads…

“it’s going to be terrible”

“No, it’s not, you should be able to get through it”

And that’s all ok except for one thing.   

“It’s all ok?” I hear you ask. “Really? It feels terrible!”.   

Yes, this fight does make us feel terrible, but that’s not the worst of it. The big problem is that this fight makes us go over and over the same thoughts and keeps our fear alive…   

So, first we have this fear that shows up, and then the fear generates thoughts that it uses to keep itself alive. It builds its own little thought-army to protect itself.   

But, you know, actually, this is all very sensible of course, your body is just doing what it can to keep you safe. And I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a threat. There really is one. A real one.   

Well, perhaps it’s not totally real but, you know, it really feels real.   

So what is it? What actually is this threat?   

This is like when we ask people what’s the worst case scenario. This is actually a good thing to ask, because it just about always turns out that the worst case is really not that bad. The problem is though, that thinkng clearly about the worst case scenario is often the last thing we want to do…

So, we don’t do it, and we get back on the merry-go-round of “I’m scared, it’s going to go badly, I can’t do it, I’m scared…”

So, listen to this. I think that the problem, actually is NOT the fear that you’re feeling.   

No, the problem is the looping set of thoughts it creates. This loop grabs hold of your brain and asks for… a ransom, like a hijacker. The ransom is to try to get out of the task at hand: “maybe I could be ill”, “maybe i could do it next week…” and so on…

So the fear, when we look at it close up, is not the problem.   

It’s the looping.      

How can we stop the looping… how can we break that up, and get back to ‘normal’ thinking and ‘normal’ doing again? That would be so refreshing.   

Yes, breaking a loop… Well, how do we do that ?   

Do we try to tack on a new thought to the thoughts in the loop ? Would that work ?   

Hm, I don’t think so, but that’s what we usually try…

No, here’ my view on this. Breaking a loop comes in two parts: Preparing the ground, and Cutting the string   

Number one is Preparing the ground:   

This is preparing what to do once you break the loop to not fall back into it. And, yes, you can think about this while you’re still in the loop.   

What activity could this be?   

The best activities would be something physical, something that gets you into your body, and our of your head, probably something quite vigourous: running, swimming, taking a shower, walking outside.. playing a musical instrument for 5 minutes

One of these activities needs to be ready to go in your mind… You know where to go, you know what equipment if any you need, it’s easy, you can just go and do it without having to take any decisions. So, let’s say that now you’ve decided on activity A, and you’ve decided on a duration of 5 minutes. It’s important to have a specific duration, it should be at least five minutes…   

The next thing is Number two: cutting the string.

So, what do we do here?

Well, the thoughts are still going around inside us,   

so here, the idea is a big shake up.

But first let’s write down one or two sentences that defines the problem that’s tormenting us, in the form of a question or two on a random piece of paper. (Don’t write anything new about the problem, just a very short summary of where you are now with this problem).   

Writing this summary down of where you’re at right now in this torture project… will trigger a start in the process of rounding off, postponing this particular project which is the project of looping around problem B.   

You see, this was a looping project not a deciding project. It was never the project of deciding on a solution for problem B, it was the project of looping around problem B.   

So, once we have these one or two summarising sentences written down. It’s time for the bridging sentences. You can say (out loud if possible) “I’m parking problem B for a while and I mean go back to looping around it when I want to. But right now I’m going to park it and do activity A for 5 minutes.”   

And then just throw yourself into this new activity, vigorously, for your chosen duration. Now, the looping projet B should be stopped, maybe some things will try to persist and carry on activating themselves, but then you just need to repeat your parking message and focus on the activity.   

It’s very hard to stop thinking about something. However, it’s relatively easy to START thinking about something else.   

This technique may not work straight away, some of these fears maybe so strong that they fight on, trying to keep control of your consciousness.   

But think of the idea of patience and keep trying and see what happens. After a while you’ll get better at it and your brain will learn to give in sooner and sooner.

Breaking a loop is one of the most important things to learn how to do.   

Just learning how to do that can lead to you having hours and hours more free time in your week as you learn to recognise loops and also use this tool to break out of them.   

So, we started with fear, the fear we have before a big public event that we need to show up in, and we ended up creating a ‘mindtool’ to help us regain control of our mind and stop it being hijacked by our emotional loops.

This might not be the whole answer, of course, you still have to improve your your speaking skills, your expressive skills and your language skills, but at least now you have a liberated mind to start from.   

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