How to Reduce Fear in Healing Anxiety and PTSD Symptoms

How Fear Benefits Healing Anxiety and PTSD SymptomsHow to reduce fear in healing anxiety and PTSD symptoms is a big issue for every survivor. After all, fear is the reason we experience anxiety. And PTSD symptoms are driven by fear in the extreme so…. how can we reduce it, and can it be beneficial in healing?

Actually, yes, fear can support recovery in ways that are so significant they can bust blocks, increase momentum and even lead you to straight into discovering how to heal symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. In a weird twist, learning to use fear in healing PTSD actually helps to reduce its effects.

For a long time during my battle with PTSD I fought fear in three really successful (I’m joking) ways:

  1. Suppression I shoved fear down and pressed on. Of course, it popped back up at all the worst moments, but I got good at quickly pushing it down again.
  2. Denial — I got super proficient at pretending I didn’t notice fear. (“Fear? What fear?”) Later, when I healed and the fear vanished, I was shocked by how “normal” fear had felt.
  3. Appeasement — I gave in to it, letting it flow over me, destroy the moment I was in and pretty much put me out of commission for hours if not days.

All of these fear management tactices slowed my PTSD recovery process enormously. In addition to sapping me of energy I really could have used for healing suppression, denial and appeasement left me feeling powerless, hopeless, distracted.

Using Fear to Heal Anxiety and PTSD Symptoms

If you’ve read about how I healed PTSD, then you know that the major turning point of my recovery happened when I stopped running from or managing fear and instead started engaging with it. In the end, the more I deliberately worked with my fear(s) — and there were many — the more quickly I healed.

When I began working with my fear rather than against it I discovered something I didn’t expect: The fear was guiding me. All those years I ran away from it, but it was trying to send me a message designed to help me. At the time I thought that was unique to my recovery, but over the past several years I’ve seen this same process happen for so many survivors around the world: We all try to escape fear only to discover we heal more quickly when we stop doing that.

The more we engage with fear and collaborate with it the more we heal.

How Fear Benefits Healing Anxiety and PTSD Symptoms 2There are many reasons why this is true. Some of my top favorites are…

  1. Standing still (instead of running) in the face of fear starts to shift you out of a sensation of being powerless and into a sensation of being powerful. This is a process that takes time but is the essential shift of healing.
  2. Fear contains powerful messages, facts and information useful to healing. The more you connect with, identify and act on these messages the more direct, focused and efficient recovery becomes.
  3. Healing is about more than creating a sensation of safety and control; it’s about directly addressing what we’ve been so afraid of and finding ways to become bigger, more powerful and more strong than the origin of the fear itself.

Healing Anxiety and PTSD Symptoms is Frightening

There are many reason to be tempted to dismiss fear as the enemy; this is a mistake. Fear is a mirror. It reflects back to you where you feel weak, powerless, unsure, uncertain and overwhelmed. But that’s not all.

In fear’s reflection are many positive elements, too. Fear lets you know who you are, what matters to you, where you need to grow and in what way you and/or your circumstances need to change so that you learn how to reduce symptoms of anxiety and PTSD. Fear has much to teach and it doesn’t all need to be learned at once. Engaging with fear can begin simply with conscious awareness, and by replacing resistance with acceptance.

When I started the process of engaging with fear I literally spent a day admitting it, saying to myself, “For such a long time I’ve been living in so much fear!” (Amazingly, this was a big revelation to me.) I also had sympathy and compassion for myself for feeling fear. Then, I wrote out a list of what I was afraid of. I still have the list. It completely covered both front and back of an 11 x 17 sheet of paper. From there I systematically started to address each item on the list.

As a catalyst, directly confronting fear can embolden recovery, remove resistance to the healing process (especially if that’s one of the things on your fear list) and give you a more clear strategy for the work that needs to be done. In a healing process that lacks a road map the street signs of fear can be tremendously useful in helping you chart a successful recovery route.

 
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