“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our minds.” – Bob Marley
In this month of Halloween, it’s an ideal time to confront fears – past, present or future – that haunt us. The lens of fear distorts what we see, often exaggerating, and focusing on the negative. Fear can also masquerade as anger, jealousy or ego attachment. Most fears are unfounded, yet they force us to compromise our core values by putting us in survival mode.
Try these 3 mindful strategies to unchain your fears and liberate your mind:
Practice Meditation and Mindfulness:
These skills keep you present, instead of ruminating about the past or projecting into the future. It’s not an escape mechanism to ignore your worries; you just put them on hold, so they don’t rule your life. You acknowledge them, let them go, and address them later, to determine whether they are indeed real, or manufactured by your anxious mind. By practicing mindfulness in less turbulent times, it prepares you for times when you are confronting real fears or challenges. Being able to stay present to what we are doing, focused on breath and senses are skills that will enable us to stay calm in situations when we have to accept what we cannot change.
Compose a List of Fears:
Include all the big and little worries and anxieties you’ve had in the past month, (like fear of being unaccepted, fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of failure, etc.). Then cross off the ones that didn’t happen, check those that did come true. If you’re like most of us, you’ll see more crossed out than circled. Fear robs us of enjoying the present moment, which is, essentially all we have.
Confront Fears to Break the Corrosive Rumination Cycle:
Take the time to write about them. Rumination is linked to anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse. It’s corrosive and deeply distracting. Seeing your fears and doubts written down in black and white lets you evaluate the actual risks, and helps vaporize them. It’s never too late to journal about a past traumatic experience that you may have muscled through and not let go of. Writing brings the trauma out of the dark and into the light, allowing you to acknowledge and understand what happened, to help heal emotional wounds and see yourself as a survivor rather than a victim. After you let go of your worries to the page, write about something joyful or what you’re grateful for, to remind you to appreciate what you have today. Practicing gratitude helps us leave the ghosts of the past behind and feel more hopeful about the future.