Blog: Strategies for Working with Fear

If you’ve heard or read anything of mine before, then you’ve probably heard me say that strategies alone (e.g. five easy steps, breathing techniques, distraction, etc.) are not enough to truly move past our fear. We also need to bring awareness and a willingness to feel and explore that fear – a.k.a. being with the fear. Being with the fear is what allows us to move past "fearing the fear"; it’s what de-conditions the fear habit.

But, for those of us that have experienced trauma or are really sensitized, it can feel really scary and unsafe to be with that fear in a helpful or productive way. This is where "resourcing" or strategies can come in handy; the idea of resourcing is to give us just enough space and altitude so that we can start to feel safe and willing to be with the fear. We’re all capable of being with fear, so it’s just a matter of cultivating that capacity. We’ve all been there when we’re trying something new that is exciting but also scary, sure there’s fear there but also an openness and willingness to let it be part of the experience – in fact that fear is what makes some of our experiences exciting. 

So here are a few simple resourcing methods from psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach. Feel free to experiment with all three and see what resonates with you.

  1. Name-out-loud the sounds, feelings and images that are right here in the present moment: “Seeing the trees through the window, hearing the sound of the radio, feeling the weight of my body on my seat.”
  2. Relax parts of your body that feel tense: Bring a gentle attention to these areas with the intention to soften. Pay particular attention to the shoulders, hands, and belly. Also relax your face, including your tongue, from the tip to its root.
  3. Visualize a comfortable or safe space – This could be a place in your home, a beautiful spot in nature like the woods or ocean, or even a person or pet. Really visualize that comfortable space or person. What do you see? What noises might you hear? What textures might you feel? How does this space or person make you feel?