Maintaining Calm When Fear is High

Recently, I was talking to a close friend. Well, listening is more like it.  She was overwhelmed with emotion and alternating between states of panic and frustration and states of complete emotional breakdown.  I could feel her fear through the phone and I wanted, more than anything, to take it from her and destroy it somehow.  But, instead, I listened.  And after about 25 minutes of emotional upheaval, I asked her this: “Are you going to continue live in fear like this or are you going to do something about it?”

Today it is difficult to maintain a state of calm. We turn on our television and see mass destruction, a corrupt society, and threats of catastrophic weather.  We open up apps on our Smartphones and see our ‘friends’ arguing over causes and humanity and what lives matter more.  This is enough to drive anyone into a state of chaos and emotional overdrive.  How can we regulate our emotions, and maintain a sense of inner calm, when there is so much out there that threatens us?

I believe that when we are in a state of overwhelm and panic, we are almost always in a state of fear.  We are afraid of some aspect of the future.  What will happen if I get fired? What will to me happen if I leave him? What will happen if I grow old with only my cats for company? Most of these fears will never actualize.  In fact, most of them are catastrophized thoughts, or irrational beliefs that something is far worse than it actually is.  We become so wrapped up in negative thought processes and in our self-created fear, that we cannot possibly think straight.  That being said, maybe the first step toward finding your inner calm is recognizing your own thought processes as fear based, and in some cases even, irrational.

I used to dabble in meditation.  I attended the occasional week night group, tried some deep breathing if I became panicked. I could take it or leave it, honestly.  But when I started to get real with myself, and recognized by own train of irrational, fear-based thought, I realized that meditation was my ticket out of fear and into peace.  I don’t have a particular schedule, and I don’t set a timer to keep me seated.  But I do make sure that I find at least 7 minutes, every other day, to sit and clear my mind of all the “stuff.”  Sometimes I use visualization, or a favorite song, and sometimes I even go all out, light some incense and a candle and listen to a spiritually guided meditation.  The point is, I sit.  And I breathe.  And this, under 30-minute per week, ritual has essentially changed my life.  And, according to some studies, maybe even my DNA. Not sure about the latter, but what I can say for sure is that I am much less reactive than I used to be, and when fear comes knocking on my door, I am able to acknowledge it and let it go without allowing it to overtake me.

Journaling can also be a powerful tool to help us regulate our emotions and become more familiar with our patterns of thought.  You don’t need a fancy, leather bound journal to obtain the benefits either.  Start with a notepad or a piece of scrap paper you have lying around.  And just write. Write what you are most afraid of. Write what you don’t want to tell anyone else because you are ashamed of it.  Write what you want to tell that other person but you just can’t muster up enough courage to do it.  Just write.  Writing it down is beneficial because it gets the “stuff” out of your head and onto something tangible.  Something you can even destroy after your done.  Journaling can be extremely therapeutic in helping us to understand our fear and why we are feeling it.  If you can end your rant with a few things that you are grateful for, the benefit will increase abundantly.

If all else fails, and your emotions are too strong to handle on your own, talk about them.  Find a friend, or a family member that won’t judge you too harshly and speak your truth.  If you can find someone that will listen without judgment or giving you unwarranted advice, you are golden.  By talking about our fears we bring them into the light.  We make them known and they are no longer held hostage inside of us.  Remember when you were a child and had a nightmare and you told your parents about it? It felt less real, right?  Like the monster in your nightmare wasn’t as threatening because someone else knew about it?  Talking to another about what we fear can have the same positive effect.  It takes strength away from the monster inside of our heads and it gives us back our power.

I hope these methods can help you when you face chaos and the fear wants to take over.

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