5 Points to help you overcome fear fast.

Problems are a part of life. In a certain way they are a blessing as they help us grow. However, problems can take on a life of their own if we allow it. The idea for this post occurred to me yesterday as I was helping a friend with some personal challenges. She was devastated and had been reduced to a sort of isolated misery.

She had cut herself off from friends and associations. It took some time and some talking to identify the root cause. In the end the cause was a single personal flaw that she had blown into something really big. And in the process she had reduced herself to something really small.

This got me thinking about the role of perspective. In the case of my friend, she had placed the problem in the center of her world. She had nurtured it and empowered it. Fed it and placed it in a frame. Then put it up on a pedestal where she could see it often. It actually became the center of her world.

The problem became a mountain. She had become a small “spec” in the shadow of this monstrous mass. I suggested that perhaps she had things switched around. What if she was the mountain and the “spec” was the problem? She was hesitant to look at the problem in this way at first. After all she had worked really hard at nurturing the problem.

Once she put herself in the “mountain” role, and the problem in the “spec” role, her whole demeanor changed. From her new vantage point, the problem didn’t seem that formidable. In fact it seemed small and weak. I suggested that she cut off it’s food supply

Her experience isn’t foreign to me. I recently had an experience where I had done the same thing.  I owned some old properties and it was alledged that a child had ingested paint chips.

The problem had so many levels of concern that I quickly became overcome by it. I fed it in every way. My concern for the child, and his health. My concerns regarding the property and the steps necessary to make is safer. My concerns for the expense of possible legal ramifications. All the concerns were valid for sure. However, I allowed these to consume me. If the problem was a small fire, I had built it into an inferno.

For about a week or so, I was intolerable to be around. I bounced between states of extreme grumpiness and lethargy. My fears about what could happen ballooned into something huge. And, I felt small, and powerless in it’s wake. Even as I write this my pulse is quickening, and my blood pressure increasing. I really fed this thing.

Thank goodness for my wonderful wife. She helped me step outside the problem and see it in it’s proper perspective. I began my descent from the ledge by considering the following question. “What is the worst thing that could happen?”

The first step to putting a problem in it’s proper perspective is to look at the “worst case scenario”. This gets the problem “out on the table”. It helps you look at the “reality” of the situation. Look at every angle. Get ridiculous. Get absurd. A little bit of humor at this stage can also help put things in perspective.

Get the problem out of your own head. In a state of duress or strain, you can perseverate on the problem. Your mind will play tricks on you. This is where you begin to build the problem into a mountain. The problem gets bigger, and you get smaller.

The best way to get the problem “out of your own head” is to discuss it with someone else. This can be difficult as pride often sets in here. Perhaps you feel shame, or fear about what others will think, so you keep the problem to yourself.

Resist the urge to isolate yourself. Discussing the problem with someone else will “shine a light” on the issue. You will also be surprised by the different points of view that you could not see.

If you get stuck at this stage, and you just can’t share the problem with someone else yet. Write everything down in a journal. This is a very effective way to begin to get the problem “out side your own head”. The act of writing is very “cathartic”.

Writing involves other senses and engages different parts of your mind. If you can’t find someone to talk to, talk to yourself by writing it down. I even pretend that the problem is not mine. I write as if I am advising someone else. As if the problem was theirs and I am just providing options and advise.

Meditation and prayer are excellent ways to get outside of your own head. If you don’t pray, try it. The act of discussing the problem out loud (find a place to be alone) will allow you see the problem differently.

Look at all the facts. Emotions can quickly “rule the day”. Fact finding helps to place the problem in the “objective” realm.

For example, in the alledged lead poisoning case the worst case scenario was that the child could pass away. We could also be sued and lose “everything”. In the fact finding stage we found that the lead poisoning was relatively mild. We also discovered that the lead poisoning was “cumulative” over a period of time. They had only lived in the home for 30 days.

We found that the child was autistic and had been hospitalized previously for lead poisoning. The parents were aware of the dangers of lead poisoning and had not taken precautions.

We also looked at what it would mean to lose “everything”. My wife and I had lived on “peanuts” in grad school. Literally….peanuts. That was one of the happiest times of our marriage. “Stuff” doesn’t make you happy. We would still have each other, and our family. This also reinforced the commitment we have to each other.

Take a break. Get outside. Go for a walk. Take a drive. Listen to pleasant music. Play the guitar. Do whatever you do to most effectively step away from the problem for a short time. This is not avoiding. This is allowing your conscious mind to take a break. Your subconscious mind will continue to work the problem. All the prior steps will be feeding your subconscious mind the information necessary to begin formulating solutions.

Finally, take action. Outline one thing you can do right now to get started, and then do it. If you can outline 3, 5 or 10 things, write these down, pick one and get going. Action has a way of clearing the fog. It also shifts the perspective as it puts you in a position of power…it makes you bigger and the problem smaller. The more you do, the “bigger you get” and the smaller the problem becomes.

You are “bigger” than you realize. There is no problem that is bigger than you. By taking the previous steps you will begin to see the problem from the proper perspective.