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nebule's avatar

How do you sit with your fear?

Asked by nebule (16439points) January 26th, 2011

Hello fellow Jellies x

I’m interested in how you ‘deal’ with your fears? Particularly ones that are specific. For example I have a day school to go to this weekend in Manchester and I have various fears about it, which have pushed me to question whether I’m capable of doing this? Whether I should do this? Whether I’m ready for it? Why I shouldn’t just be kinder to myself and not go?

Not going is not really an option because that would mean I’d failed myself and really I think I can do it but it still scares the hell out of me. The trouble is, these fears are permeating the rest of my life…my whole week… I’m emotionally eating to numb the pain and dread, which is making me feel worse. I’m just so scared.

I’d love to know how you sit with your fears or whether you drink them down…eat them away… numb them somehow…avoid them? Or deal with them in another way? I really need some help here guys, please and… thank you xx

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42 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

I never “sit with” my fears. I either completely surrender to them or I dive in, in spite of them. I, more than anyone, would like to know why, when and how I choose one of those options over the other. Because when I have dived in, in spite of my fears, when I have put myself in a place where I am in way over my head and have no choice but to succeed or lose face, I almost always succeed. Why I often give in to the fear? I don’t know. It’s easier. Why do I sometimes dive in, knowing that I’m going to be in over my head and do it anyway? There is something there that makes me do it but if I knew what that was I would always dive in, in spite of the fear, and I just don’t do it, not always. Not even often.

harple's avatar

Hey @nebule, I’m so sorry you’re feeling that way… I know what it feels like to have something coming up that takes your whole life over with fear in the lead up to it, so I sympathise with how you’re feeling.

There’s several things I can say, some of which, whilst probably true, may not give you much comfort… Such as, when you get there you’ll probably find you’ll enjoy it far more than you think, and other people there will be feeling the same way as you are etc etc, but I know that this is hard to hold on to and believe when you’re feeling so worried yourself.

What I will say, though, is that whatever happens, this weekend will come, and then it will pass, and before you know it it will be Monday again, and you will have done the thing that you were fearing. And it may have gone well, or it may have gone not so well, BUT either way, it will be done and in the past. I have got through some of my hardest challenges and worst times by recognising and remembering that TIME ALWAYS ADVANCES. No matter what, it will soon be behind you.

Hugs xx

misstrikcy's avatar

I dont, I’m a complete scaredy cat, and more often than not completely avoid the fear, but then spend too much time wondering.. ‘what if…?’
Like you, this ‘fear’ also permeates all areas of my life and I find myself avoiding so much. It’s annoying, especially when you know yourself you are a perfectly capable individual.

I’ve often wondered if it’s simply a fear of the unknown. You know when something is out of our control, or we are out of our comfort zone, some of us can feel quite unsure and fear it… and our minds can so easily distort this fear and make it bigger then what it is.
I’ve had a few momemts in my past where I have managed to overcome the fear, and get on with things. And no, they’ve not always been as bad as I thought. But even with a couple of successes behind me, I still find I am repeating the same behaviour when confronted with something new. Sigh…

coffeenut's avatar

I like to face my fears…every chance I get…I will purposely put myself in situations that trigger my fears to see how well I can handle it…

You can’t let your fear win…unchallenged

Bellatrix's avatar

I could so relate to your post nebule. I have a thing about going places I am not familiar with and parking my car .. crazy, long story attached to the latter part. I am aware it is a phobia though and I know I have to challenge it and beat it because it makes no sense and if I let it, it stops me doing things I want to do. To beat the parking thing (I can park by the way, it just freaks me out)I am going to take some driving lessons just on parking so I get past this stupid fear. So, my response to my fears is to try (note I said TRY) to face them. Like you I see not doing this as a form of failure. Of course, some fears are there for a reason and we should listen to them.

Can you go there before the day school to familiarise yourself with the setting? Perhaps with a friend? Face the fear as it were? And what is it that you are most scared of? Going there, getting there, meeting people you don’t know, coping with the work? What is it that is paralysing you? Perhaps if you can identify the element that is freaking you out most, you can find a practical way to deal with it? For what it is worth, I think half the battle is talking about it so just talking about it hear takes some of the fear’s power away.

What is the day school about too? If I can say, I have read a number of your posts now and you seem like a pretty together, clever and astute person so I doubt there is much you can’t do :-) As Franklin D Roosevelt said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

By the way I was born and grew up in Manchester. Sighs… haven’t been back for so, so many years. I would like to visit.

partyparty's avatar

Totally agree with what @harple and @Mz_Lizzy say.
Perhaps you could go ahead of time and familiarise yourself with the place and the surroundings.
I think everyone has fears about the unknown but maybe, just maybe you will enjoy it once you are there. Good luck

Bellatrix's avatar

just talking about it hear takes some… that was just talking about it HERE… grrr

JilltheTooth's avatar

Hey, Whole Parent, I get what you’re saying, I let myself get overwhelmed sometimes by stuff like that as well, then I remember a couple of things. First, nobody’s going to die if you go. Really, that helps me to realize that. Secondly, it will be a walk in the park compared to being a single parent, and other major things you’ve done. If you can, @partyparty and @Mz Lizzy have a really good idea, go ahead of time. If you can’t, pull up a map of the place online and really take a look. A lot of the power of the fear may be the unfamiliar. And @harple has it right as well. This too shall pass! You’ll regret more not going than going. You’ve already proven that your very strong, remember that.

Austinlad's avatar

I face my fears as honestly and forthrightly as I can, and when I feel overwhelmed, I try to get them out of my head and verbalize them. My mother used to say—the things one worries about the most never happen (or are never as bad as we envision. Experience has taught me that this is usually true.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I try to focus more on the process than project the outcome. A thing is going to need to happen, whether or not I prepare for it. It’s far better to be prepared. I can control the amount of preparation that I put into getting ready for something, even if I can’t control the outcome. I usually try to think about a situation as a learning opportunity.

It helps, too, to correctly identify my emotions and what I’m fearful about. Generally, it’s not fear but nervousness. It’s normal to be nervous before something major. I find that if I say something aloud several times, it becomes less enormous, and more of a fact. Saying, “I can do this” out loud 20 times can be soothing.

To get a handle on my nervousness, I generally open up the initial contact with something like, “Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you about___. I’m very interested in _____ and am excited that I have a chance to talk with you about it.” This seems to work well for me, because it then makes the conversation not about me, but about a subject. And in talking about the subject, I get to demonstrate ability, and am less nervous.

augustlan's avatar

You’ve gotten a lot of good answers already, but if all else fails, I take a low dose of Xanax. Sometimes just knowing that I can take a Xanax helps me calm down. You can do this, girlie. Good luck!

LuckyGuy's avatar

I blunder and barge through them. Here’s an example. The sight of blood used to make me woozy. I even almost passed out during my marriage blood test. I decided it was ridiculous to live this way so I signed up for a First Aid class and eventually became an EMT on an ambulance. There are other examples. I found if I “just did it”, I could do it.
You know you can do this. We’re pulling for you.

nebule's avatar

@lillycoyote Can I ask what it feels like when you dive in?
@harple Thank you, I will try to keep in mind that this will pass soon xx
@misstrikcy Yes, I feel exactly what you are saying. Is it that something is out of our control, or we are out of our comfort zone, ? Probably both, but there are people that deal with things like this so easily… But like you even consistently doing new thing, trying to break the fear, having counselling, delving into my fears… the new things never seem to get any easier… will it ever get better? I just want to curl up under my duvet and stay there forever.
@coffeenut You say you ‘like’ facing you fears? What dies that feel like when you are facing them? Can you tell me some things that you’ve done to face your fears please? x
@Mz_Lizzy I’m with you ont he parking thing! Well driving my car and parking it… :-/ I’m going on the train on Saturday to alleviate some of this problem, but unfortunately this only seems to throw up other worries… like getting the train on time, worrying about those barrier things that you have to stick your ticket into (I got stuck once in these things on the tube in London…) getting mugged, getting accosted by strange people… I worry about everything and anything. I’m actually going to travel there with a guy that is on the same course as me, but I don’t know him that well so I’m worried about that too… It just seems whatever actions I take to make things easier they still cause problems and worries for me…
@partyparty I generally have a fairly good idea of where I’m going as I did used to live in Manchester for a while, but it still scares me…the city scares me. I like your suggestion of going ahead of time but it’s not necessary as it really should be straight forward…and going with someone else does alleviate some of the worry about finding my way x
@JilltheTooth Thank you, I know… but I think I have a general fear that something really bad is going to happen… like getting mugged, or stabbed, or that something will happen to my son whilst I’m gone… or…oh God a whole host of things… more mildly…like looking like a fool… but you’re right I would regret going…I will go.
@lucillelucillelucille Thanks hun x Do you regularly feel the fear? Do you get used to it?
@Austinlad Maybe I’m too cocooned in my life? Maybe part of the problem is not having regular challenges?
@BarnacleBill I’ve never really found affirmation to work very well for me… maybe it’s because deep down I do believe I can do it but that I’ll be pooping myself all the way there… which is incidentally another worry… I have IBS and I just know it’s going to be an issue on the day = a lot of pain and discomfort and not being at home. But…I shall try to keep telling myself it’s going to be OK. x
@augustlan Thank you sweetie x What is Xanax…?? I’ll look it up… You’ve just reminded me actually that I do have some diazepam left over from a couple of months ago… but it might not be a good idea to take these in the morning hey? perhaps? I don’t know… might make me sleep and unable to focus?
@worriedguy I like that…blunder and barge through them… Blundering sounds like that might be the way to go… Thank you xxxx

Thank you all for your support, it really does mean a lot to me that you’ve taken the time to answer this question xxx

starsofeight's avatar

You are always stronger than you think you are. You will always find that the true outcome of any situation is very different from the picture your mind paints it to be in advance. Usually none of the things your mind imagines come true – and from this, you can be certain, now, of two things:

one – you have wasted a lot of thought on the matter, and,
two – it turns out you are actually not afraid of what lies ahead, but your own mental image of it.

My advice: wait and see. In the meantime, :) :) :).

janbb's avatar

Uneasily – but I conquered one (for the present) when I drove in the snow to work today. Usually snow paralyzes me but I managed it and am the only professional librarian who made it in so far. Don’t know how I did but all i can say is it feels great!

I guess I’m saying that when I can push through it, I’m more competent than I think I am.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I know this may sound a bit trite but it is true. (Personally, I don’t whistle. I stand up straight inhale and go for it.) Here is an excerpt from the song.

“Whistle a Happy Tune” from King and I, (also sung by Frank Sinatra)

Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid.
While shivering in my shoes, I try to tell each toe
To whistle a happy tune and no one ever knows I’m afraid.
The result of this deception is very strange to tell,
For when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well.
I whistle a happy tune, and every single time,
The happiness in the tune convinces me that I’m not afraid.
Make believe you’re brave, that’s the trick to take you far,
You may as brave as you make believe you are
You may as brave as you make believe you are.

So… Stand up, chest out, and barge in.
xxx Back at ya!

ucme's avatar

Treat them as a challenge. They turn into conquests in no time at all :¬)

stardust's avatar

@nebule Sorry to hear you’re feeling this way,x
I completely understand what it’s like to be consumed by your fears. It’s a terrible feeling and it can really take over. However, the reward I’ve experienced in facing my fears (and many more to come no doubt) is wonderful. I look at it as an opportunity for growth. Mind you, it sometimes takes me a while to work up the courage.
What helps me is allowing myself to feel terrified, rather than berating myself for feeling that way and still go on and do what I have to do. I do think there’s a place for “faking it ‘til you make it” too. Maybe try some deep breathing techniques too – focus on your breath and the here and now. I hope it works out well for you and that you feel proud of yourself afterwards!

TexasDude's avatar


I’m not afraid of much, and adopting the right attitude is how I got that way. Think about it… you are a human being- the smartest, meanest, most badass animal on the face of the planet. Your species tames wild animals, builds floating hunks of metal to conquer the oceans, and puts robots on Mars. With that in mind, should you really be afraid of half the stuff that bugs you?

Also, you should be aware that the worst things that could possibly happen to you as a result of your actions probably won’t. So dive in to whatever is holding you back, as others have said, and conquer your fears.

Here, have some Courage Wolf.

partyparty's avatar

@nebule I worked in the city – Manchester – for many years. Initially I found it quite overwhelming, with all the hustle and bustle of city life.
If you look at the people, they are all busy going to and from somewhere. For the most they are in too much of a rush to notice what is going on around them.
Over the years I suppose I became one of those people, using the city as a means to an end. I went to work, then came home again… that’s all.
I was once told ‘unless there is a tiger chasing you there is no need to be frightened’.
I try to remember this whenever I have to face something I’m not comfortable with.
Be confident in yourself, think of it as an adventure rather than a chore. I just know you can do it.
Good luck and let us know how it went :))

coffeenut's avatar

@nebule lol “dies” or does?

Facing fear is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever felt….The mix of adrenaline, terror, excitement, anxiety…not much in my life causes fear though….but I do have a few goodies…

One of my big ones is Heights… But I’ve been sky diving, Base jumping, cliff diving, or just being on a 35 story building looking over the edge….Also whenever I stay at a hotel I want a room closest to the top floor as possible with a balcony…and the hotel has to be at least 10 stories high….to trigger it. I also need to limit my exposure, so when the building or balcony starts to “move” it’s time for a break…

Two..Elevators….I hate them with a Passion..worst things ever invented. I’m not claustrophobic at all…It’s more a fear of gravity deciding to take over…lol
It doesn’t matter if I’m going up or down…1st floor to 2nd floor…ooooh typing this is giving me shivers…lol But I won’t normally take the stares….Except in the case of “glass elevators” ....can’t do them yet… But every chance I get I ride the elevator…just not too much…lol

blueiiznh's avatar

@nebule great introspective question.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@nebule -Of course.We all do.
It’s just working outside my comfort zone so as not to be complacent.
It conditions one for unexpected adversity and so what if one “fails”? :)

nebule's avatar

@stardust yes, you are probably right, thank you and I will certainly do my best x
@janbb Thank you Jan and well done you! It’s somehow trying to capture that feeling of competence for the next hurdle that’s the challenge isn’t it… :-) x
@worriedguy Love a bit of Sinatra thank you…off to listen to it now x
@ucme I know what you mean, it’s just feeling strong enough to take on the challenge… Thank you x
@stardust It’s so comforting to know that other people feel fear like this as well… obviously not great that other people are in pain but that I’m not alone! x One of my problems is berating myself for being afraid so thank you for reminding me not to! xxx For some reason I think at 30 years old I should have it all together x
@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Thank you for my courage wolf xx I hear you xxx
@partyparty Thank you, I love that ‘unless there is a tiger chasing you there is no need to be frightened’. I shall try and imprint it on my brain!! xxx I will certainly let you all know how it goes, you’ve all been amazing x
@coffeenut For some reason these fears seem different than the ones I’m thinking of… I understand what you mean about adrenalin and and excitement… but maybe my fears of these things (heights etc) are not as strong as yours..or maybe they are a different type of fear. hmmm. there doesn’t seem to be any level of excitement in what I’m doing on Saturday… perhaps I need to seek that part of it out… what good things might come of it? perhaps?
@blueiiznh Thank you :-) x
@lucillelucillelucille Thank you also xx

Thanks to everyone, truly xx I’ll let you know how I get on… and if I have any epiphanies in-between now and then of course! x

coffeenut's avatar

@nebule They are 2 of my top 4…. For me the excitement mostly comes (not alone) while I’m leading up to the fear point then again later after I’m done with it…not usually during…

Usually when I’m planning my upcoming activity excitement/anxious are dominant because I’m about to do something I’m fearful of…ie: standing at the edge of a 35 stories building (420ft)...

But once you’ve done it you can put any other fears (current/future) into perspective and they may not warrent a fear response…. compared to XY isn’t so bad….

kevbo's avatar

Your choices are: a) revisit the belief that is causing your fear and reinterpret the facts that have led you to believe you have reason to fear, or b) be convinced that the cause of your fear has passed.

It may also be helpful to think about the three fear responses: fight, flight, and freeze. I would say that emotional eating is akin to a flight reaction.

Lastly, the hardest part is slowing down the belief—>behavior mechanism. You need to intervene with your “rational” brain to change the formula that is causing you to feel panicky.

Vunessuh's avatar

A lot of things scare me, but I do them anyway. Like my fear of flying. If I didn’t face it and just endure it, I wouldn’t be able to recollect the beautiful experiences I’ve had by traveling.

Great question, @nebule. I agree with a lot of the posts above.
Here’s really the only thing I have to add. Remember this quote. :)

Do one thing everyday that scares you”. – Eleanor Roosevelt.

flutherother's avatar

@nebule I have been there done that and now I wear the T shirt. I would say you are better facing your fears than surrendering to them. An attitude of mind that may help is to remember that most of the people you will meet will be every bit as nervous as you and you should go with the intention of making things easy and pleasant for them.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well I either deal with the situation or try to avoid it. If I can’t avoid it, I have to deal with it because it’s not like I can just die, right? So I suffer through it.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

nebule's avatar

Thanks @augustlan made me smile xxx

nebule's avatar

Oh guys and girlies… today was amazing! It went really well. Meeting up with the people was fine, getting the train, finding our way there, all the work we did, even going out and getting lunch.. it was all so good. Apart from anything I really surprised myself in the fact that I just let go… I’m usually a real control freak but I just let myself get carried on the wave of experience.

I took sandwiches with me for lunch but the guys that I was with decided to go out, so rather than do my own thing; the safe thing for me, I decided just to go with them and a couple of other people wherever they wanted. (I don’t generally do groups of people…)And it was so good…and I was talking to them and getting involved in people’s lives…I was interested and engaged and it was lovely…. and I really didn’t think I was capable of that… or at least I was worried about it… but moreover people seemed to actually like me as well…which was lovely too!!

I have to say the whole thing was actually quite a breeze and more enjoyable than I could have imagined… and I’ve learnt so much from people… major thing…that I learnt that so many other people have the same fears that I do… which is MASSIVE… I mean… I know that we talk about it, but to meet people and you can see in their faces how scared they are and how they put their hearts and souls out there for you to see..well it makes me a little less afraid next time of putting my heart out there for people to see…be courageous, show vulnerability but go through the hard stuff because there really is so much to be gained from it, I can’t tell you enough… and also I really do think I’ve made at least two really good friends from the experience.

I am…humbled and warmed and I’m so grateful for all of your support through this… I kept thinking today of the special people that have helped me whenever I felt I needed some strength and you guys are up there. Thank you sooooo much xxx love you all xxx

augustlan's avatar

Fabulous, @nebule! This really warms my heart. :)

nebule's avatar

Thank you xxx

coffeenut's avatar

lol, Congrats…

JilltheTooth's avatar

I knew it would be good! You went armed with a mass of support and our confidence in you and you sailed through it! Good on you, @nebule ! I’m so proud

Bellatrix's avatar

That is so wonderful Nebule. I am glad it worked out so well for you. Sounds like you had quite a day on many different levels. :-)

partyparty's avatar

@nebule Soooo very pleased you found the strength to actually face your fears, and then to go to the day school. I am sure it was a milestone in your life, and you can now move on.
Well done you!!

blueiiznh's avatar

Awesome for you. Congrats on all you accomplished!

harple's avatar

Yay! Go You! :-D xx

nebule's avatar

Thank you all xxx

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