My Fear Toolbox

Fear usually hits me in the stomach first. I get queasy and nauseous. What my pediatrician when I was a kid called, “a nervous stomach.”

I am like a cat and startle easily. I freak out with heights. I don’t like enclosed spaces.

So, despite picturing the wonderful, adventuresome time I was going to have at Diamond Caverns last week, I was at the bottom of the cave telling my husband we had to turn back now because I was going to get sick.

He looks at me and says sternly, “Don’t you dare.” I quickly looked into my Fear Toolbox. The first technique I took out, I learned from Paul McKenna. Awhile ago I visualized several scenes where I am completely confident.  I visualized these scenes over and over again. Then I pressed my thumb and middle finger together. I did this a couple times every day for a few days.  Now when I press my thumb and middle finger together I get an immediate calm. The feeling doesn’t last long, but it gets me in a better state to use the other techniques.

After I was calm, I thought of the present moment. I was perfectly safe at that moment. I looked around and enjoyed the stalagmites and stalactites. The red, cream and brown colors. The impressive formations.

Then we went back down slippery stairs and I couldn’t convince myself I was perfectly safe in this moment. I could slip to my death at any time, you know. So I took out the next tool from my fear toolbox. I said a mantra, “I am a strong and confident woman who doesn’t get scared at silly things like heights.” This calms me down for the current stairs.

Holding my husband’s hand also helps. As does concentrating only on the next step. I can do one more step even if I am scared.

Diamond Cavern

Gorgeous Diamond Cavern that I had to overcome my fear to see

Then I started feeling claustrophobic. Time for deep breathing. Lots of deep breathing. I was reminding myself of how much air was around me.

My imagination can make things difficult. I start seeing myself slip into a deep cavern or suddenly stop breathing. I can also use my imagination to help me by visualizing something better. Sometimes I think of a place I have felt calm before, sometimes I magnify the beauty around me, sometimes I just think how wonderful, relieved and proud I will feel at the end.

Another technique for managing my fear is bringing out my curiosity. If I am trying to figure something out or learn about it, I am less afraid. I can even use this by noticing the physical reactions to my fear in a detached, interested way. “Why I am feeling like I am going to throw up? I wonder why that is? What chemical responses are shooting through my body right now?”

The good thing about fear and most emotions, is that they come and go. And with lots of techniques in my fear toolbox, I can get through my fears.