So here we are, 7 months on after the first lockdown, and people seem to be getting very scared again. It is only my opinion, but the single thing that I see that our government seem to be getting right is very effectively instilling fear into many people. Making them distrust their neighbour, judge their fellow shopper and dividing the nation in to lockdown-supporters Vs lockdown-resisters. Or in other words, people scared of a virus or people scared by the effects the restrictions are having / will have on their life. Either way, we’ve all felt scared, so we have common ground here to empathise with everyone, no matter their opinions.
I’m here today, writing this, because the fear needs to stop. The problem isn’t going away, but the fear can.
So, I felt that it was hugely important now, for me to get back on my keyboard and start writing to try and put out more positivity in to the world. To empower people to live their best lives IN SPITE of the restrictions in place, in spite of differences of opinion and approach.
Because to quote Janet Jackson 😉 we are ‘MADE FOR NOW. NOT TOMORROW’. That is what I want to teach my kids. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Nobody can possibly know. So the only way to honour ourselves, our parents, those who have fought for our freedoms, those people who have died for them – is to live in a way where we deal with our fear, by taking action IN SPITE of those fears.
The Strategy to Tackle Fear
I’m all about strategic direction. I’ve always looked forward naturally. If I’m curious about anything, it’s rare I stop until I find the answer. I rarely accept the first answer I get – especially if it makes no logical sense to me or feels wrong. It can be a blessing and curse and I’m learning to channel it in to a power, rather than a bad habit. At one point in my life I was so future focused I realised I wasn’t enjoying the present – I have had to really learn to be better at living in the here and now. Kids certainly helped with that and every day I work on embracing the here and now, and model my kids who are masters at living ONLY in the moment. It’s wonderful to watch and something to aspire to when I see them play.
So here I am writing a blog I never thought I would write. Fear on a massive scale – everywhere. Where do people even start? Well, I guess here is as good a place as any. These are the 5 Tools I use to turn fear in to personal power on a daily basis.
- Power of Focus
- Develop discipline
- Understand what fear it and why it happens
- Ask yourself better questions
- Create the chance to respond instead of react.
1. The Power of Focus
Approaching my 40s I find myself in a nice place – I love my present life, I am excited about my future (despite what Boris wants to happen), and I focus often and deliberately on all the wonderful things I’ve had the honour of experiencing in my past. I refuse, absolutely refuse, to focus on the madness happening around me. I’m aware of it – yes. I’m as considerate of others, as I always was. I respect and love the people in my community as much as I did before. I’m as aware of irresponsible and wreck-less behaviour just as I always was. It’s no worse now – people have just got more judgmental because they are more fearful. I refuse to let this situation change me for the worst.
Instead I focus my energy, time and attention on the things I can control. I focus on my power to make a difference in a positive way, wherever I can.
Every week, I plan out my week in line with the results I want to achieve (which have been derived from my 12 month plan, which have stemmed from the ultimate vision I have for my life).
Every morning (based on my weekly plan), I get up and write an intention for my day – I write down what I want the result of that day to be. Sometimes it’s as simple as “I want my kids to feel extra special today” and other times it might be a goal relating to my business, body, finances, friends, fun etc.
I am always focussed on what I want – not what I don’t want.
I have always set written goals, as long as I can remember. Even as a child when it was things like “I want to have a puppy or a new barbie!” Words have massive power. I use them to give me the edge. However I’m more aware of how much power they have, having used them (unknowingly) in the past in a way that disempowered me. Negative self talk. Much of which I didn’t even realise I was doing.
I’m also always focused on solutions, not problems, and I’m a researcher at heart, which served me well in our businesses, raising a daughter with autism, my health and other things. It also served me well when I found myself deeply depressed as a new mum to two beautiful, fabulous little girls back in 2016. My life felt out of control, and every element of it was the opposite of what I expected.
Having being in state of deep depression for a long time, I detached myself from the emotion, and I thought to myself “Woah. No. This ends now. Look at what you have. How dare you feel anything but sheer love, joy and deep gratitude for your life. You are being completely selfish and a pathetic victim” Turns out that was the day I changed my life for the better. Something changed fundamentally in me as a human. That fear – the one where I enivsaged a situation where I lost complete control because I allowed my emotions to override my true soul and do something harmful to myself and cause emotional hurt others in the process – was more terrifying to me than anything else. That wasn’t me. That day was the journey I started my personal Best Self Project. And to this day I’ve never gone back, nor will I.
2. Decide on Discipline
That situation all stemmed from fear. Fear of a situation where I became focused on what I couldn’t control (instead of what I could). I’ll tell you about that another time or you can read about it here. But over these last 7 months in 2020, I have felt those familiar feelings wanting to creep back. I’ve had bad days. I’ve felt fear. But not once have I let it take control for longer than a day. I say “Have a bad day – it happens”. I let the emotions wash over me, indulge myself in a bath or some nice food – I reach out to others so I don’t feel alone. BUT now I have disciplined myself to then LET IT GO and move on. Don’t let a bad day, lead to bad decisions that lead to a bad life.
I use discipline across my life. It’s like a muscle. The more you build it, the stronger is gets. And discipline is the first key to fighting fear.
Discipline – train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.
Exercise has helped me to achieve discipline. The consistent habit of exercise, even when your body is sore and tired, and quite frankly your will power is depleted but you do it anyway. That builds discipline. And so this has become a critical part of my strategy for a strong mental foundation.
3. Understanding Fear
Before discipline comes understanding. People think they are ruled by their emotions and thoughts, because that is quite frankly how it feels. Like anything in life – your health, your finances, building IKEA furniture – it helps if you have an understanding of what you are dealing with first. This allows you to detach from the emotion – in this case, fear. To see it as a separate entity – not part of you.
Behaviour is driven by feelings. Feelings come from thoughts. Thoughts are controlled by your focus. Hence point 1.
Fear (which includes a range of emotions from concern, apprehension, anxiety, scared, terrified) is a necessary emotion – a stress response created to ensure our survival. Fear is a signal to prepare ourselves or get prepared for something that’s about to come. It’s there for a reason. But fear is meant to be a short term emotion, where a decision is made and action is taken – FIGHT OR FLIGHT.
However when fear (and the associated hormones that are released in any fear state) becomes a permanent or long term state, instead of a fleeting emotion; those hormones can create short and long term emotional, mental and physical damage. Dis-Ease is in fact the cause of all diseases. Stressors on the body, that remain unresolved or untreated.
Not only that, but when our body has had such a fear induced reaction it remembers things about that situation that serve as future triggers. Mine would be all clowns thanks to watching IT as a child and being scared out of my life. The brain does this so you recognise the sabre toothed tiger earlier next time! It makes sense as a defence mechanism. However with a situation like covid, you might find yourself getting triggered all day, every day – news, social media, conversations with others, someone coughing next to you in a shop, seeing someone without a mask (or with one depending on how you feel about the restrictions).
Fear produces a reaction – fight (maybe anger towards someone who has a different view than you) or flight (not leaving the house or touching anything)
However if you can delay the reaction, you can have a more controlled response. In other words, you can then choose how to respond.
The fears we don’t face, become our limits.
The limits we impose on ourselves, are the excuses we use to justify our unreached potential.Nicola Fulstow. Best Self Project.
4. Ask Yourself a Better Question
Whenever I am feeling low, fearful, depressed, drained it is easier to allow those feelings to swallow me than to fight them. To submerse myself in them is in a very odd way, comforting. Familiar. You connect with yourself and self indulge. So much easier to do when you are feeling tired of the world. If you monitor your self talk in these moments it goes like this. “Why me?” “Why is this happening?” “I don’t want this” “This isn’t fair”. I call this victim mode. Urgh the worst.
When I get like this, I nip it in the bud straight away by asking myself better questions. In particular, one of the main ones I use is “who do I want to be?” The answer is always easy. I know who I want to be.
I want to be happy, joyful, a person that people love to be around, a supportive and encouraging person, an inspiration to others, a leader, a lover, a person who always sees the beauty and the love that surrounds me. Who makes her own decisions. Who listens to others opinions, digests them, does her research and ALWAYS comes to her own independent conclusions that involves getting the best results for as many people as possible. Who spends most of her life, her months, weeks and days, feeling joy. I want to be remembered fondly by people who shared a deep connection with me. I want to know I loved all my heart. Otherwise what a waste of my life.
5. Monitor What You are Doing to Feed Your Fear
I have done a lot of personal work on the power of self evaluation over the last 26 years, after my Dad introduced me to personal development at the age of 14 with a book called ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ David J Schwartz and ‘Mindstore’ by Jack Black. Since then I have studied hundreds of books, articles, papers, videos, courses and even trained with Tony Robbins as one of my tutors to become a Strategic Life Coach with Robbins Madanes Institute because I want to be a Master in my own Life (and hopefully help others along the way)
However sometimes, fear can get a grip. I know exactly how it happens. I allow myself to get in to a conversation with someone fearful and allow them to pull me in to their state; I watch the news; I look on social media; I focus on everything that COULD happen that I don’t want to happen. I get rigid about what others MUST do. I focus on only one way forward.
Notice they all have one thing common. They are all things I do or allow, that then lead to me feeling fearful. I can decide to do something different instead. If I’m feeling trapped or like I’m going down a wrong path, I always get out my notepad, and look for more options that create the result I want.
For example, if I always feel fearful or drained after talking with a certain person, I can a) carry on b) not see them c) tell them how I feel d) don’t tell them how I feel, but ensure I keep changing the subject
Going along with 1 option feels compulsory.
2 options feel like a dilemma.
3 options create a choice.
So always find at least 3 options.Nicola Fulstow, Best Self Project
So what do you do, if fear has taken over your life?
So now, hopefully you understand your fear a little more intellectually. That is the key with fear. If you can detach from it for just a moment. If you can create enough time and space from the initial stimulus coming in, and the fight or flight reaction, and sit with it for a bit; you learn over time that you can, in many cases, not to be overcome and paralysed with fear.
PAUSING, EVALUATING and REFLECTING are the key to combatting FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). This allows you to make a CONTROLLED RESPONSE as opposed to a fear based reaction.
F.E.A.R can mean
Fear everything and run
Face everything and rise
If it’s beyond your control, you either succumb to it and live in fear OR you need to change your perception about the situation and let it go.
Courage isn’t never feeling afraid. Courage is taking bold, consistent action, in spite of any fear. It is in these exact moments – when we take action in spite of fear – where strength and courage is built. And so many incredible things start to happen when you get in to the space of living with strength and courage. Once you break the pattern of fear having a hold over you, you become free to make key decisions that drive your life in the direction you want it to go.
So I ask you today to take a step back from your fear.
- Start focusing on what you want in life. Write it down. Commit to those results.
- Know your fear triggers – what gets you all worked up? How can you avoid that? e.g. stop watching the news, turn off alerts on your phone.
- Commit to discipline when it comes to your brain and body
- Learn to understand fear and view it as fleeting emotion, not a part of you
- Ask yourself better questions, that promote more positive, productive answers.
e.g. who do I want to be? Is my behaviour harming or helping me? Are my fears realistic, unlikely or very likely? What can I do to prepare myself for them? How can I change my perception of what this situation means to me and my life? Can I view this as a challenge to overcome and triumph against, or should I view it as me being a helpless victim?
- Monitor your behaviour. How would you help a loved one who was a recovering alcoholic? Would you put a beer down in front of them? Put them in charge of an off license? Go to the pub for a meal? Give them a gin to take the edge off? Check in on yourself with love. Are you hurting or helping yourself? Some indulging in behaviour that is hurting you and remove all temptations.
- Now make a choice. Do you want to continue to feed your fear, or squash it? Consider, If you hadn’t watched the news in 2020, and you got off social media, would you have personally witnessed anything in your day to day life that would have led you to feeling this level of fear? Is not, why ARE you so fearful, and what would be a better choice?
Fear occurs because of the ‘fight or flight’ or the ‘stress response’. Its a psychological reaction to a perceived harmful event or threat to survival that helped our ancestors survive …. eg, the sabre toothed tiger heading your way
- PAUSING, EVALUATING and REFLECTING are the key to combatting FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). This allows you to make a CONTROLLED RESPONSE as opposed to a fear based reaction.
- NOW GO AND TAKE ACTION ON ANYTHING THAT GETS YOU 1mm CLOSER TO THE LIFE YOU WANT.
- Keep doing this every day, and you’ll be surprised and how intentionally directing your focus on what you DO want, and what DOES matter to you, empowers you, and eliminates fear.
If you have found this article helpful and would like some further help with taking positive steps and forming a plan to get the life you want, call or text on 07787 821124, or contact me here, and we can work together to empower you to reach your truest potential.