Tool #1 to Deal with Fear, Doubt and Worry

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Hi everyone,

As you may have figured out, I’ve been a lawyer for 33 years. I’ve also been a coach with the Ontario Law Society and, prior to that, was part of the peer support network for the Ontario Lawyers Assistance Program. I’ve now been coaching for 13 years and work with some amazing programs!

So, let’s talk about a tool you can use to calibrate Fear.

What predominant fear (whether it be “defcon” or expressed as doubt, concern or worry) are you experiencing today? 

We may not feel, think or believe we have any kind of control over our outer circumstances, situation or condition. I’m writing this during the time of COVID-19, when we’ve been mandated to stay in as much as possible. In Toronto, people are receiving tickets with monetary fines if they’re not following social distancing rules. So, there’s a huge system of control that’s come down on us.

I’m not here to debate the facts or give an opinion whether that’s good or not. As a lawyer, and having majored in Political Science for my undergraduate degree, I do know that this level of control is typically antithetical to a democratic society. On one level it fascinates me that because of a virus, humans across this entire planet (as of the time of writing) do not experience physical freedom. I wonder at the precedent value for this. After all, humans have encountered viruses and creating immunity to them for eons. I’ve also been wondering why all of a sudden are we all so scared? Don’t get me wrong, I’m writing this from my home and I am in isolation, like many others ….

Now one of the things that I do know is that although we may not feel we have control over our outer circumstances, we definitely have control over what’s going on inside our brains (though it may not feel like that at times either).  We have control over how we perceive the situation and how we’re going to manage it and move forward within the situation.

So, with that, let me offer a tool to support you in dealing with any doubt, worry, anxiety or any type of fear you may be experiencing at this time.

We have trains of thought, which can seem to go on and on, sometimes in a downward spiral. I had a period in my life (and its the reason I started into this work) where I had such negative thoughts against and towards myself that I came to a crisis point within. I found it really challenging because when I first became aware of what was going on and damage it was having on and in my life, I didn’t have the resources to help me shift it.

I mean, I’d heard about and tried saying: “cancel, cancel, clear” when I had negative thoughts.  And then what? What I found is that because nature abhors a vacuum as soon as I’d cancel some negative thoughts, it just seemed like more negative thoughts would rush in. It was almost like  they were growing more heads – a multi-headed monster!

Unfortunately, having doubts, concerns, feeling anxious or worried and having any thoughts of fear (I define fear as anything that, when you think of it, feels contractive as opposed to expansive) is a normalized experience for most people.  And when negative thoughts are predominant, its important to shift them.  Otherwise its like riding an escalator down…down…down….

Each person experiences trauma and challenges in life. I’m not here to minimize any of that for sure. However there are ways to move through such experiences. The concern is when we get caught by them –

Fear thoughts generate cortisol in the body, which is an immune suppressing hormone. So, to the extent possible, we want to limit the immune suppressing hormones that are coursing through our bodies. That is the first step.

One way to do that is by having a mind we’re in command of rather than having it run us or our brain running its own thought patterns (which it frankly normally does). For example, have you ever had the experience where you were driving a car and all of a sudden became aware that you’d arrived at a certain place and hadn’t been aware of any of what had happened in between? At some level you were conscious in driving, yet your thoughts were elsewhere.

Our thoughts can take us down all sorts of merry roads. Some of the paths are happy and some of the paths have rough terrain and are very, very challenging.  Those paths always include fear, which includes thoughts of doubt, thoughts of worry, thoughts of “I can’t”, thoughts of anxiety.  We may not, and certainly I didn’t used to think I was an anxious person, and yet, when I would tune in to the body, this body, I noticed that, my goodness, it was quite tense.  I realized that the tension was coming from an underlying anxiety – a fight flight type of response.

So, I’d like to offer a too or process that has 3 steps.  You can use this tool to shift your mindset from a reactive or downward spiral of doubt, fear and worry, to one that is positive and more able to respond and thrive.  And this will support you now, and in future.

Step 1: Start with a negative thought that you are often having or some predominant fear that you are experiencing right now. Perhaps it is doubt of yourself in any way – that you’re going to make enough income for the month, doubting or afraid that you might contract COVID-19 when you go to the grocery store. I was at the grocery store recently and there was this woman in the aisle.  She looked so scared and my heart went out to her.  I mean, she was all bundled up and it wasn’t a cold day, but she was bundled up with her face mask and her eyes were showing and they just projected out fear and she just looked so, so scared.

If you ever find yourself having any contractive feeling whatsoever, the first tool that I recommend is this (its beyond the best tool ever!): bring to mind what you are thinking and feeling. Notice your thoughts and feelings such as: oh, I’m feeling anxious; oh, I’m feeling scared; oh, I just had a judgment against my husband, my boyfriend, my child, my self etc. Notice that the thought or feeling is contractive in nature.

Next, pause and say: “I can replace this feeling and thought with peace” and then take a deep breath to center yourself, and replace the fear thought with a thought of peace.

So again: You become aware of your state of mind, your thoughts, the physical state that you’re experiencing, or you notice what you’re seeing – you notice whatever is going on for you that isn’t feeling good or peaceful.

You have a choice to continue experiencing it and continue to react OR to shift to a more responsive, creative mindset.  To make the shift, take some deep and soothing breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  What this breath does is change your state. It shifts the sympathetic nervous system from being in the state of fight/flight to being in a more relaxed state.

Then, replace the fear thought or anxiety with a thought of peace or calm, or something that’s going to support you moving forward – the best possible outcome for this situation. Bring that to mind and know in your mind that it is, in fact, actually happening.

You can expect to feel better with this and you can use this process at any time.  Note that cancelling out the fear thought or doing the breath without bringing to mind peace, or something you’d love, will end up bringing you back to the original fear thought. You would have created a vacuum and so the predominant energy or images will flood back taking you right back to that fear state. You have to do all three steps in order to shift and move forward.

Also know that you may have to do this over and over again.  If you’re experiencing a lot of fear, or anxiety, or worry or doubt or something, you may have to do this quite frequently until your body recalibrates. And if you use it, this tool can take you far, not just in this situation but in in in other situations too.

I have a lot more tools to support you in shifting thoughts of fear, doubt and worry to those that will support you in creating a more expansive life. If you’d like help to shift limiting thoughts and actually create the life you desire consider scheduling a complimentary coaching consultation. You can do so here:

Rather than hanging out in the doubt, the worry, the fear, life can be abundant. We can have a beautiful life – one that is full of joy and even peace regardless of the circumstance and condition. In other words, we can have circumstances and conditions without them having us!

Click here for a complimentary coaching consultation and to learn more.

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