3 Writing Exercises To Conquer Fear
Imagine doing the thing that scares you. It could be delivering a big speech, standing up for yourself with a co-worker, finally asking the boss for a raise, speaking up in class, getting on a plane, or even talking to someone in line at the grocery store. Whatever it is, imagine the fear. Your heart might be racing, your breath might feel short, you could feel the sweat droplets collecting around your forehead, or—if you’re like me—you freeze. Your inner monologue consists of all the worst-case scenarios that drown out rational thought. You are in pure fight-or-flight mode. Now, imagine all these feelings are good for you. Your worry and fears are energy that you can use. Did I lose you? Hang in. Here are three short writing exercises that will allow you to feel your nervous energy and still thrive:
SEE ALSO: What Does It Mean To ‘Awaken’?
We often associate fear and nervousness with negative energy. We imagine it taking us over, rather than fueling us. But what about reframing these thoughts? The surge of energy that comes with facing our fears usually means a rush of oxygen. The sweating or clammy palms mean that we have heat and adrenaline—good things that can work to help us think clearly and keep our body nourished. So instead of thinking, “I’m terrified and will freeze up,” reframe these thoughts. Perhaps “I’m exhilarated, let’s do this” would be just as accurate. When we get a rush of energy, after all, why not use it to our benefit? For this first writing exercise, take a few minutes to write 2 to 3 sentences that you could tell yourself during moments of fear or nervousness. Keep this list close by when you know you’ll be in situations that will test you.
Having big dreams and being emotionally invested in those dreams is a wonderful thing, but we often put more pressure on ourselves when our dreams are big. And timelines are one thing the universe keeps secret. Instead of expecting everything to go well all at once or that it will all be perfect all the time, let’s celebrate the small wins. Maybe you struggle with nervous energy at cocktail parties, and you don’t exactly become a social butterfly, but you do smile and look people in the eye more than you used to. Wonderful! Celebrate the small wins. For this next exercise, create a list of times you did achieve small wins such as this. If you have trouble thinking of something, go test yourself in small ways. Push the edge of your comfort zone and applaud yourself for doing so. As you accumulate small wins, you are headed toward big achievements.
Be the Future You Now
When succumbing to our fears, we often think that we’ll get another chance or that a future version of ourselves will knock it out of the park. But what about now? For this final exercise, write a short description of the future you. How would this person react in a situation that currently scares you? Make this description as vivid as possible, then revisit the portrait of this future daily, for a week. Keeping this ideal version of yourself handy will remind you of ways to live your best life now. Our nervous energy means we are invested, which is a good thing. We should embrace it and continue to move forward. Writing can help to clarify our thoughts when we spiral into worry and self-doubt, so return to these exercises whenever you need to.
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