Today I want to talk about fear. I know a little deep for a Sunday afternoon. My son as started to have therapy for his fear of dogs in order to see if it is possible for us to have a guide dog. I say we because it is a family decision. Some people around me say I should just think of what my needs are and that a dog will help me so the family will just have to accept that. I don’t feel the same as how can I be comfortable with a dog and give it the attention it will need if I know my family are uncomfortable and in their own home. It is an easy decision. I mean I am not going to lie it was a hard one to make because I have heard firsthand how having a guide dog has changed the lives of so many. It has to be right and that is something I have opened up to since loosing my sight. One might say I have gained more insight since I lost my sight.
So back to fear, I wanted to talk about it because there is so much of it in the world at the moment. There is a bit of it in me too. I fear I am doing the wrong thing with the decision about the dog. I fear Dylan’s reaction to the decision good or bad. I fear never getting out of this house alone again. I fear being lost in my own disability. I fear knowing what it is I am supposed to do now. I fear saying the right things. I fear saying the wrong things, oh, I could go on and on.
We all live with fears whether that be phobia, anxieties or simply life’s situations. We all carry them and cope with them in different ways. I wanted to share with you some of the ways I cope with mine. I am not saying that these are the defining way to do so but I have found it helps me.
1. Knowing what fear is
So fear itself is scary to think about but once you look into what it actually is, it breaks the scary down. Fear is a biochemical and emotional reaction our bodies has to perceived danger. It is a natural, powerful, and primitive human emotion. This can contribute to our flight or fight reaction. The biochemical part is the physical reaction in our body. Increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, crying these are just some. The emotional effects can be highly personal as some of the same chemicals are released form the brain that are happy chemicals. So some fears like watching a scary movie or adrenaline sports can be a good type of fear and knowing what it is and how it effects our bodies.
For me, I have experienced a good type of fear in continuing my Cane training. The fear I feel when walking outside knowing I can’t see anything around me is quite powerful but it also feels like a good fear because the more times I do it the more I know that I will be okay and I can manage myself even if something scary did happen. So it has become a good type of fear through practice and through seeing it from a different perspective.
2.Changing my thought process
In acknowledging fear and understanding it a little better this then allows me to think about it differently. I can rationalise with my brain. I have caught myself before now having a conversation with my thoughts. “Come on now Nina, you know it is fear that is talking and what is it saying? Is it something that is a genuine fear and risk to your safety?” Depending on the answer I react accordingly. Most of the time it is a case of me saying: “Right Nina, this it is not as bad as you think, you are not going to get harmed, and it is different to past experiences. You are in the present moment and we can do this, we got this!” I have definitely found acknowledging fears, and changing my perspective thoughts a great coping strategy. For instance, when I am having a bad episode of my Charles Bonnet Syndrome(CBS) hallucinations. I see the morphing zombie face and say “right Nina you know it is just your brain trying to make sense of the little light you have coming in because your optical nerve is not working” This then helps me calm by acknowledging the facts.
Since losing my sight I have found meditation to be one of the most beneficial ways of calming my thoughts, easing fears and stress and even reducing my CBS. When you look at meditation the main concept of it is breathing and focusing on that breath. I find that this can be done anywhere in any situation. Once you have acknowledged the thing happening to you, you bring attention to each breath. Now notice how it is, if it is fast and irregular, slow it down and give it focus. I find this helps take the focus off what I was afraid of or what physical reaction I was having.
This is an important one I have found for me. It not only validates what you have just been through and the way you felt but it helps with my own self-belief. Every time I get back home from a Cane training session I literally pat myself on the back and say “Nice one Nina, see you can do it!” I then go on to treat myself to something nice be that some food or doing something I enjoy. I give myself that time to sit with it and take in what I have just achieved. I have learnt that being your own cheer leader is not a bad thing it doesn’t mean you are self-centered or selfish. It means you are there to support, be kind and understand yourself. Then others will follow.
These are just some of my tools in my kit that I have picked up along the way from opening my heart on mind to different ways of thinking. It is most definitely a journey and I am still learning. I am still encouraging myself to take in new learning ways every day. We all have a lot of things to bare, it is the work we do on ourselves that is important. It is only in doing this that we can be there for others.
Everything in this post are my own thoughts. I acknowledge that we are all different and cope in different ways. I just hope this may have given you some ideas if you need them.
Take care, sending love