“I have imagined Baba’s wrestling match countless times, even dreamed about it. And in those dreams, I can never tell Baba from the bear.” (Khaled Hosseini)
Fear has controlled my entire life up to this point. Name it and I’ve got a fear related to it (a fear of not being interesting enough/pretty enough/knowledgable enough, a fear of looking silly, a fear of the future, a fear of the concept of fear. Actually, listing these off is really therapeutic and I honestly should’ve done something like this earlier. Also, yes, I’m still learning to disconnect my self-worth from my appearance and that’s just an example of how mental society is.)
And fear is a funny thing, because it manifests in different ways for different people. For me, it sits inside my head and uses my voice to tell me nasty, horrible things in an attempt to immobilise me. I don’t think that I’d be too far off the truth if I said the following; all of the negative emotions in life stem from fear, and all positive emotions stem from love. Like two opposite spectrums. And I think fear and love are somewhat connected too; for example, the fear of losing love.
Fear can be found in all negative things if we stop for a minute and analyse ourselves – in the hate that may start to brew for someone because you fear being abandoned by them, or in rejecting someone because you fear not being able to see a long-term future with them (and you don’t want to risk hurting them), or not socialising in fear of rejection and in fear of not being loved. Two sides of a coin.
I’ve read variants of the following many times; that only by facing our fears, can we kill them. So it’s interesting that I’ve never really read how to face our fears. What is the best angle in which we must face the voices so as to effectively turn them off? And what do we do if the voices fight back and give you a massive migraine? Or, worse, what if you begin facing the music and the music turns out to be a Swedish heavy metal and you realise that not only do you not understand Swedish, but you can’t stomach having to listen to more than 5 seconds of heavy metal?
Here’s what you do.
I’d like to offer my own method of combat, one that hasn’t failed me yet; You need to personify your fears. And I don’t mean, like, give them a backstory and a family and future career prospects and a few GCSEs, but give them an image, because it gives you something to confront. And of course, our brains like to default to processing everything and anything using the standard little head-voice, so you have to actively try and give the bad thoughts another voice to use, too.
So when I first began to really fight my fears and my anxieties, I gave them the shape of … a furby.
“You’ve wasted your life: the whole world has passed you by and you’ve sat there doing nothing. Everyone thinks you’re pathetic. By the way, what’s the point in doing anything at all? Stay in bed!”
Imagine for a minute if a furby manifested opposite you and said those words in its silly little voice. Doesn’t it lose any impact it could’ve had? For me, personifying my obtrusive thoughts kicks me into knowing they’re not real. I can stand up to that furby and say, “What do you know, you little pink freaky gremlin child? I’m not listening to you.” There’s no fear attached to that little thing.
So, next time you’re feeling low or anxious and swamped by nasty thoughts… practise detaching yourself from them. Give them an image and a voice that you can fight, because you have to fight them or you’ll let them control you. They’ll get stronger and stronger and sap out all your energy and you can’t let them, because they only want to sabotage your relationships, your experiences, and your future. Just because they can.
Once you get the hang of separating yourself and your demons, it only becomes easier. I can promise you that. ?