4 New Coping Strategies For Fear

July 23, 2013

“It takes a very narcissistic person to think that his plane is going to crash.” – man sitting next to me on a plane once. The plane takes off. As the massive machine lifts off the ground I can feel in my bones that we’re about to come right back down. I ask every around me if they’re ok. Because if they’re ok then we all must be ok and if we’re all ok then I’m ok. I read my “prayer for safe airline travel” that my Mom insists keeps me safe. I drink some water, I try to sleep, and I feel a bump. I ask everyone again if they’re ok. I look deep into their eyes searching for the fear and I repeat, “Are you SURE YOU’RE OK?” I latch onto arms, I take deep breaths, and I eat some nuts. I ask everyone again if they’re ok. “You’re SURE you’re ok, right? You feel ok? You’re not afraid? You’re ABSOLUTELY FINE?” The line of questioning repeats until we’re safely on the ground. As I embark on an International flight on Sunday, I’m going to attempt to flip the script. By practicing the skills I’ve learned through reading Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead I’m hoping to arrive well rested and make friends versus enemies with my seat neighbors. Here’s the plan:
  • Lean into the joy of a trip to Europe with my mom. How lucky am I? I’m going to fully lean into it. Brown says that moments of joy breed feelings of vulnerability so I’m going to...
  • Remind myself that I’m feeling vulnerable. Each time I feel turbulence and rushes of panic I’ll tell myself that I’m feeling vulnerable.
  • Remain present in the situation. Some people find flying exhilarating. By remaining in the present I will attempt to feel and understand the joy that lovers of flying feel.
  • Focus on my gratitude list. Brown believes that vulnerability cannot live in the presence of gratitude. By listing all of the people and things in my life of which I’m grateful for, my vulnerability and my fear should subside.
I’ve been practicing these tactics over the past few months as moments of fear and panic pop up in my life. When I’m driving on the highway and I feel a rush of dread that I’m about to crash, I remind myself that I’m feeling vulnerable. When I start to panic envisioning that my book launch will be an utter failure, I think of how grateful I am to even have written and published a cookbook. So far, these tactics have worked. They’ve eased the fear and subsided the panic. But they’ve been in small doses, fleeting moments. The true test of these coping skills will be on the 7 hour-long flight over the Atlantic Ocean this Sunday evening. And if all tactics fail, there’s always free wine. What strategies do you use for coping with fear?

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