I’m not generally a fan of acronyms.
Sometimes they are just a little too cute, or clever, which is fine. But other times, they can be unhelpful and flat out wrong! Take the acronym you’ve probably heard for FEAR, “False Evidence Appearing Real.”
The problem is, when you are feeling fear, it is VERY real. It becomes your reality. Fear can overwhelm you, paralyze you, and render you helpless. When you are fearful, simply wishing it away is not a useful strategy. Besides, the “evidence” may not be false at all. You may be confronting a very real and intimidating challenge. Fear is a natural response designed to protect you from harm. When cornered by a rabid dog, simply pretending it isn’t real will not help you. The same may be true for a rabid coworker, a life transition, or a very difficult parenting problem.
So when you are experiencing fear, whether imagined or fully justified, what should you do about it?
I like to think of FEAR as a bully on the playground who relishes the opportunity to intimidate you or capitalize on your weakness. This bully knows that if he is successful getting you to react and remain in fear, he wins. Every time.
So, the first thing to do when experiencing fear is to hit the pause button. Stop. Take a breath, realizing that in fearful moments time itself seems to slow down and afford you this opportunity. In that wonderful “space” you can change the channel. Write a new script instead of simply reacting to the emotions you are experiencing. Now, you can employ a different acronym, one that puts the power back in your hands to overcome FEAR.
Find Encouragement And Respond
Find encouragement. When you pause, which again is critical, you can shift from reaction to response. The difference is that you are now making a conscious choice.
Look for and find encouragement. You are resourceful. You have a lifetime of experience that has led you to this moment. Ask, “If I knew how to handle this, what would I do?” You may be surprised that you already have the answer. Or you may find encouragement from someone else who can offer you a positive perspective or some useful information. Often, I find encouragement by saying a prayer, releasing fear and turning over results to a power greater than myself. Stepping outside of the emotion and intensity of your limited perspective will help you greatly. Then you can respond. Not react. Respond. Calm yourself and face the challenge, projecting strength and continuing to breathe. Disarm the bully not with force, but with empowering thoughts, and deliberate action.