A Creative Way to Manage Fear

by Yafa Luria/Margit Crane

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat are you afraid of? Growing old? Failing at your work or at school? Dying alone? Never finding true love? Public Speaking? Raising your teen? Whatever your fear, this exercise will release some of the load (keep doing it for more release) and reveal some stunning insights. You are going to write out a conversation with the person you fear. (Don’t worry, that person doesn’t need to be in the room with you; in fact, he/she doesn’t even need to be alive anymore!) ***If you’re afraid of a situation, you’ll converse with yourself.

Here’s how it works:

With your dominant hand (if you’re right-handed, that’s your dominant hand) start the conversation and with your non-dominant hand (the other one!) answer as the person you fear/the part of you that you’re afraid of/the situation.  You don’t have to think of the answers ahead of time – it’s not a THINKING exercise, so don’t worry about “getting it right.” Just observe what comes out in your writing.

Here’s an example written by a parent who I was coaching:

P=Parent (dominant hand); T=Teen (non-dominant hand)

P=I’m afraid when you swear at me.  I never thought my child would say such malicious things to me.
T=It scares me too.
P=Why does it scare you?
T=I feel possessed.
P=What does that feel like?
T=I have too many feelings and I don’t know what to do with all of them.  It feels like I’m being swallowed up.
P=Do you feel like you’re losing yourself?
T=Yes.
P=Is the person who is swearing at me the REAL YOU or the YOU WHO IS OVERWHELMED?
T=The second one.  I just get really angry and scared.
P=What are you scared of?
T=Not being popular.
P=Are people being mean to you?
T=No.
P=What can I do to help you?
T=I don’t know.  Can you just keep being my mom even when I’m a b*tch?
P=Yes, of course.  I love you!  Does it help for me to do this writing?
T=I guess.
P=Do you mind if I continue writing?
T=No.
P=Just so I understand, you’re saying that when you swear at me it has nothing to do with me?  You’re just scared and angry?
T=Yes.
P=And all you need me to do is keep loving you?  Is that enough?
T=Yes, for now it’s enough.
P=Well, this is a relief!  Thank you for talking to me.  And I do love you!
T=OK, thanks mom.

Interesting, yes? What’s even more interesting to me is that, as far as I know, this mom never shared this conversation with her daughter! It’s wasn’t really her daughter responding, and yet, their relationship changed dramatically jsut from doing this exercise. The daughter didn’t stop swearing, at first, but the mom stopped taking it personally which was what was stressing her out the most – that her daughter might really dislike her. Once the mom’s behavior changed, so did the daughter’s. (Note: there were two behaviors the mom changed – she stopped taking the swearing personally, and she did more conscious thinking about how much she loved her daughter. She replaced one behavior with another.)

Here’s another one from a former client

Here’s another one from Shira, a 40-something business owner/client who was so afraid that she might have ADD that she didn’t want to find out. Her fear was stuck in her head and it was immobilizing her. In this case, her dominant (right) hand was fearful Shira who stated she was afraid, and her non-dominant hand (left) was sort of like her inner wisdom. You will be able to hear the difference quite clearly:

Right (Fearful) : I’m afraid that I might have ADD
Left (Wise) : Why would that frighten you?
R: Well, what do I have to do if I have ADD? My life is already so full that I’m overwhelmed. Now I’ll have to do a lot of new activities just to manage my ADD.
L: Did someone tell you that?
R: No. But if I have ADD then I probably have to do everything differently and that will take time to learn.
L: Did someone tell you that?
R: No. It’s an assumption. It’s a fear.
L: Is this fear based in reality?
R: Not as far as I know. It may be based in reality. I don’t know.
L: How can you find out?
R: I can call someone.
L: Yes. Do you know whom to call?
R: Yes.
L : Do you feel better now?
R: Yes, mostly. At least I don’t have to panic right now.
L: This is true. And it may turn out that getting a diagnosis makes life easier for you.
R: Yeah I was just thinking that.
L: Do you have any other fears to talk about right now?
R: No not right now.
L: When will you contact this person?
R: Right now. Thank you.

Here’s a third example, from 2015, when I updated this post.

I’ve been overweight for a while now and it’s becoming more noticeable to me, now that I’m on the go so much with business events. I wanted to try doing this with myself to see what would be uncovered:

R: I’m tired of being so overweight
L: That’s true. Are you going to ask me a question?
R: What do I need to do to eat more healthy foods? How can I make myself want more healthy foods?
L: Forget about weight loss. If you weighed the same but could do anything you wanted, would that be okay?
R: Well, that’s not possible.
L: For someone who bases her whole life on what’s possible, you spend a lot of time in this one area thinking about how you will fail, how you can’t do it, how it’s not possible. It’s almost as if it’s not even you talking to yourself.
R: Whoa. Okay. That’s a kick in the pants! Why would I take on someone else’s voice in this situation only?
L: You don’t have an example of anything else. People feel controlled by their weight. It’s all over the media.
R: So what do I do?
L: See yourself as you are. Someone who breaks norms. Stop falling into patterns that are controlled by others and just be you. Eat foods that make you feel more like you.
R: That’s a really interesting way to look at it: “Foods that make me feel more like me.” So I could actually ask myself if Taco Bell makes me feel more like me, or if fish makes me feel more like me?
L: You could.
R: That actually sounds fun! But I’m afraid of failing at it.
L: That’s because changing our food is seen as success or failure. What if it’s simply FUN?
R: I’m willing to give it a go. Thanks.

This isn’t voodoo

Here’s the thing: it’s not voodoo or anything like that. I’m sure that, with my ADD Brain, this idea was somewhere in my head, but my fear and not wanting to look at the issue too closely makes it impossible to access the information. It’s just a way to isolate and access that most important ideas pertaining to the issue at hand. Normally when I talk about food and my weight, I think back to when I was thin and how active I was and how much fun I have. Then I look at now, and feel sad. That’s not a solution, whereas, here my brain came up with a solution for me that fits me because it IS ME!

Your conversation will be uniquely yours; you don’t need to worry about what it looks like, are you doing it “right,” or whether it will work. It works if you do it! And you can write for as long as you want, as often as you want.

Is this something you’d ever do? Why or why not? Scroll down to comment.

xo, Yafa

Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherrie Bensaid April 14, 2010 at

Thank you for your vulnerability. I have a lot of fear and anxiety in myself right now and sometimes when it gets over the top, and I become imobilized, I don’t know what to do. I’ve heard positive self talk can help, but it is hard to do when your having an anxiety attack. I like the tactile aspect of this. It gives you something to phyisically do which facilitates the calming self talk. They say listen to your inner voice, but when you feel ready to crawl out of your skin, it’s really hard to hear what that inner voice is saying. This gives that inner voice a platform to be heard. Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. I’m going to try this.

Sherrie

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Margit Crane April 14, 2010 at

Thanks Sherrie! Great point about anxiety being louder than the inner voice and writing being a tactile, physical release!!

I hope you’ll feel free to share your results, either here or via email: Margit@MyADDBrain.com

Peace!

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