My relationship with fear this week has been... complicated. For months, I was frequently using the above quote about fear and breath to energize myself when I was feeling afraid. Indeed, fear and excitement feel so similar sometimes, especially in the midst of all the unknowns of my new environment, and the quote inspired me almost daily.
Then, I had a severe asthma attack. At the moment, the above quote seems kind of stupid to me. Not breathing is not exciting. Asthma attacks are not exciting. Just scary, and for good reason. I hadn’t had one in a very long time, so I didn’t really even remember what it was like. I was afraid. I’m still somewhat afraid, even though my breathing is much improved.
However, I have plenty of reasons to feel afraid every day (don’t we all?), and I need some positive self-talk to get through it. Even my meditation doesn’t work right now, since it’s mostly based on “take a deep breath...” which causes me to immediately start hacking and coughing. Not very centering and calming.
So I found a new quote:
Fear is Excitement in Need of an Attitude Adjustment – Unknown
But sometimes (like now) that fear starts creeping into other areas of my life, where it is not supporting my health, and just gets in the way. That annoys me, and keeps me from living my life to the fullest. I tend to respond fear in one or more of the following ways:
1) “Freak Out” about it
2) Get Angry at it
3) Experience it Mindfully
4) Ignore it
5) Face it
6) Hide from it
7) Share it
8) Distract myself from it
The key is that I apply the above consciously, and will often give myself a time limit. Recent example: “I am afraid to have this difficult conversation with my friend. However, I have to talk to her about the issue... but right now I’m too overwhelmed to do it. I am going to read my book for one hour and distract myself. After that, I will let myself be anxious about it for a while, say, thirty minutes, and then I’ll face it (talk to her) after that.” And that’s exactly what I did. The friend-conversation mentioned above turned out great, and I feel much better for having faced that particular fear.
PS: I did not do my usual “travelogue” style blog this week because I didn’t really do much. I missed a couple days of school because I was feeling so sick, and haven’t been out of bed that much since then. I feel better now though, and am getting better every day.
PPS: I really wanted to include Frank Herbert's Fear Litany from Dune in this post, but I just couldn't figure out where or how. "I must not Fear. Fear is the Mind-Killer..." I never use it myself, as it's too negative, but thinking about it does create fun memories and associations.