Don't Be Scared. Everything Will Be Okay.
One of the techniques I love is visualization. I have used it for everything from future deals to sporting competitions to materializing desires. As a Behavior Scientist, I have also created and guided clients through visualization. It is a very useful, efficient, and effective technique. Most people can easily visualize what they want, how they believe it will feel, and see it through when the time comes.
A common area many people want to deal with is fear. This fear could surround all kinds of things but most of the time it is irrational, illogical, and completely made up. Fear has a way of eliminating your ability to think and halt all progress. Not today! I have used many different visualizations to eliminate fear for both myself and clients. Many of those clients were athletes. That visualization process is very simple. I put them into a guided visualization where they are in the moment of their biggest fear. It could be having to make the winning free throw or having to strike out a batter to close the game.
First, I have them face their fear by visualizing the worst thing that could happen. Now they have gone through it and they are still alive. Then I have them visualize being in that same worst-case scenario but instead of failing, they succeed. We then focus on that visualization multiple times throughout the course of a week and before the actual game to prepare them for that moment, that may or may not come. I also have them visualize the entire game and handling every situation successful in painstaking detail (not the point of this blog).
Visualization is such an effective technique because our brains don’t know the difference between “reality” and “visualization.” You can hook an athlete up to electrodes and ask them to visualize playing their sport and muscles will fire as if they were actually playing. Pretty cool, right!? However, not everyone is an athlete and fear does not discriminate. I decided to play around with different fears of my own and create a visualization that worked for me and offer to share with you. I was very successful in using this visualization for my fear of scaling my business and taking bigger risks professionally.
I have a wife and three children who depend on me. Scaling my business means investing more and requiring larger returns. Also, I was taking a risk professionally as I have some different ideas and concepts of interests than many in my field. I approach things in a more personable manner and focus on what people want, as well as, believe no single field dealing with the human experience has the ultimate and universal answer. Until all the specialized fields dealing with the human experience work together, we will always have a fragmented expression of said experience. I want to know as much as I can, from as many of those specializations as I can, and translate them to fit as a cohesive understanding of life and what we experience. I know it is different for everyone and will never be 100% complete or accurate but it is closer than trying to do it solely through one lens. So, I tried to create a visualization to eliminate fear for the non-athletic scenario.
The problem was nothing seemed to be very effective. I could conjure up all kinds of images and scenarios of my business failing or taking too big of a risk, but the fear was not diffused, or at least the courage to face the fear was not enhanced. As I sat at my desk, stumbling through different possible visualizations, nothing popped out. I didn’t have to wait long. The answer came to me when my six-year-old walked over, gave me a big, strong, and loving hug, and turned and walked away without saying anything. I immediately knew what the visualization needed to be and how to create it. After I wrote it out and worked out the kinks, I tried it. It worked extremely well for myself and a few friends who let me try it out.
Below are the instructions for the guided visualization to eliminate fear. This visualization can be used any time you have a strong fear surrounding any event, person, or situation.
1. Lie down, close your eyes, and begin to settle in to your breathing. Breathe normally and naturally, letting the belly rise and fall.
2. When you are ready, picture the fear as a person or figure. If the fear is surrounding a person, imagine them. If it is surrounding an event or situation, identify those feelings (guilt, anxiety, fear of saying what you must) and wrap them into an image of a person or figure. It does not matter what form that figure takes shape.
3. See yourself standing with this figure. Allow the figure to be as scary as it wants in your visualization.
4. Give the figure a hug! Embrace the figure gently and simply hold the figure with tremendous love and gratitude. Really feel it as you visualize it. Feel the hug. Feel the emotion of love, compassion, caring, and understanding.
5. Don’t stop! The figure may respond in several ways. It may hug you back. It may become confused and stand lifeless. It may push you away, yell at you, hit you or kick you. Hell, it may stab you or shoot you. When this happens, simply get up, gently walk back to the figure in your visualization and embrace the figure once more. Repeat the process until the figure gives in and responds with love and an embrace. Feel that reciprocated love and bask in it.
Now you are ready to face your fear. Take the step to do the thing that scared you. You will be prepared. You can practice this visualization as many times as needed and in the moment of fear, when it happens, recall that feeling of the reciprocated embrace from the scary figure. Remember how that felt and how calm it made you and take a deep breath. Try it. It may serve you better than expected.
Most interesting to me, of course, love should be the one piece to conquer fear. For that lesson, brought on by my son’s random hug, I am grateful.