December 8, 2015

When Fear Takes Over—Changing our Reactions in Difficult Situations.


lonely, sad, angry, introvert, anxious

“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Recently, I found myself on the receiving end of an aggressive, hurt and angered person.

For someone who finds it difficult to be surrounded by this type of behaviour, it shook me to the core. I crumbled, losing my footing in life and falling. Out went all of my self-growth, momentarily transporting me to the dark place where fear resides. I entered into her space. I met her angry words. I responded with my own hurtful behaviour. She triggered me and I went full speed at her with all of the force she was projecting on to me.

I found myself face to face with a multitude of limiting core beliefs that I thought I had already dealt with.

“How could she speak to me like this?” “Why doesn’t she understand me?” “She is not listening to me” “I can’t believe she would treat me like this”

I had entered into victim mentality and took everything she said and did as a personal attack on my self worth. I opened the doors to my inner self and allowed her to pollute it. Taking everything she was throwing at me as my own without questioning it.

We are all human. And we are bound to slip up every now and again.

It is not how we react in that moment of emotional outburst but how we handle it from then on. Ownership is key. I took responsibility for my own feelings and subsequent actions that came from them. I let the emotion settle and took my space. This allowed me the chance to see a new perspective.

Each experience is an opportunity for us to grow as conscious beings. Every experience is brought to us to encourage us along the path to enlightenment, helping to shine the light on core beliefs that we have yet to truly face.

When we find ourselves reacting in fear and hurt, first feel. The reaction serves as an insight into our feelings and thoughts. Breathe into them as they arise. Watch them. After the emotions of the situation have subsided, we take time to turn inward. Uncover the limiting beliefs that are keeping us stuck in our reactiveness. In the stillness of self, we ask:

What is being triggered within me? Why?

What am I feeling?

What is this situation saying about me?

What is this person reflecting to me about myself that I may be hiding?

What can I learn from this?

How can I respond differently in the future?

During this refection, a priceless insight will be provided into how the specific situation was a trigger. With space comes clarity—the mind will be able to comprehend that it is not what happened but the thoughts and feelings surrounding what happened that charges the self. From this, the next time we feel an emotional charge or fear based action surfacing, we can go through the following steps.

Step 1.

Observe the trigger and record whether it was internal or external. An internal event is when we think something and attach emotion to it. We believe what we tell ourselves to be truth therefore putting our self in emotional distress. An external trigger could be a comment someone made about you or if someone cuts in front of you in the coffee line.

Step 2.

Practice mindfulness of all thoughts and feelings within the present moment that are surrounding the situation. Take a step back and without judgement observe the mind and the monkey chatter.

Step 3.

Change the perception and view of the situation. Step out of the mind, out of the story that is on replay and take a bird’s eye view. What are the facts minus the thoughts and emotions?

Step 4.

Resist the urge to react when emotionally charged and resist the need to take control of the situation. We don’t deny we have the thoughts and feelings, we do however provide them with the opportunity to air themselves. We write all of what we would like to say or do to the person and all of what we feel that has arisen from the situation. Then we walk away. We distract our mind, body and soul. We go to the gym, scream in our room, listen to music, have a dance party. Once the emotion has settled, we come back to our writing. From a place of love, we review and decide whether or not it comes from good intention.

Step 5.

Respond from a conscious place of love rather than reacting from an insecure place of fear. Engage the wise mind. Wise mind is a balanced approached to problem solving. Consider both the emotion, “How am I feeling?” and the reason, hard facts of the situations and find the middle ground. That is where the love response comes from.

The path to enlightenment is not a straight, narrow one.

It is trifled with amazing highs and devastating lows. It is filled with much joy, happiness and peace but equally rifled with anger, hatred and sadness. In order to absolve the self of all that holds us back, we must feel. We must experience. We must learn. All emotions that arise, all reactions we have and all negative behaviour we may exhibit serves a purpose to show us where we are hiding from our true self. It shows us where we are living with outdated views or selling ourselves short.

Being a conscious human is about living for our true self, approving of our own light and respecting our self. It is about personal growth and it is only important that we see the changes within ourselves. Seek internal validation, affection and love.

At the end of the day, we are exactly where we need to be and no one is at a point higher or lower than us. We are all on our own journey and we are exactly where we need to be in this moment of time learning, even in those crazier outbursts, who we are and where we are going.

Be the love you seek.


Relephant Read:

Buddhist Advice on How to deal with Difficult Emotions


Author: Elle Phillips

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: martinak15/Flickr

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