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Face fears head on by changing the narrative and shifting where you give your fear the most power

I had an interesting experience recently. I have a fear of needles. I don’t like being pricked and poked. The whole process of getting a shot or having my blood drawn completely freaks me out. However, I have to face that fear from time to time in order to stay focused on my health and make sure my levels are balanced.

I recently went in to have my blood drawn for a physical exam, and all the thoughts and emotions took control. My hands started sweating, and my heart began racing. My thoughts were all over the place, mostly phrases like, “I really don’t want to do this. This is going to be awful. I don’t want to be here. This is going to hurt…” I was working myself up into quite a tizzy.

Then I paused and remembered something I had read where I was reminded that it is the narrative that we choose that gives the fear so much power. A perfect example of this is when I try to talk to other people about my fear of needles, people who do not have this fear. Their self-talk looks very differently than mine. They say phrases like, “Oh it’s so quick and doesn’t hurt at all. It won’t be that bad. You will blink, and it will be over. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

I realized while sitting there waiting to have my blood drawn that I needed to change the narrative I was giving this fear, and I needed to create a shift in the power the fear had over me. To do this, reframe the phrases you are telling yourself. Start talking to yourself the way others would who do not seem to experience the same fear. Tell yourself that this does not have power over you, and you are safe. Focus on creating a narrative that creates a shift in the power that fear has over you. Focus on relaxing both your body and your mind, and notice that you cannot be relaxed and anxious at the same time.

What do you notice when you reframe your inner-dialogue and create a different form of self-talk? What do you notice within your body and within your mind? I noticed my heart rate decreasing and my body becoming less tense. I noticed a shift in my attitude and my perceived strength to get through something that I knew would cause some discomfort. I noticed a feeling that was similar to having a weight lifted off my shoulders. I knew I was going to be fine, and once it was over, I was.

We all have fears. Whether it is a fear of heights, flying, public speaking, or needles, we all experience fears. This is normal. My hope is that you can lean into the fear and face it head on so that the fear doesn’t become an obstacle. Face that fear over and over enough times, and you may find that the fear holds less and less power. The fear does not hold the power, you do.

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Photo taken by Monica Coulter in McKinney, Texas, 2016.

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