Where do I start with unbridled fear?
photo by Loretta Prencipe
I recently asked the members of Tapping Q and A Facebook Group what topic I should spend some time writing about. The first response back was “Where do I start with unbridled fear?”
In part 1 we looked at why we experience fear (and how that is not a bad thing). In part two we are going to look at how we can address the fear.
As we saw in part 1 fear exists for a reason, but often times it is responding to things that aren’t truly dangerous (even though they feel very dangerous) or it is a response to things that might be dangerous but the reaction is excessive.
When this happens, because of the nature of fear, it becomes our predominant thought and this can become crippling. When I am starting to work with the emotion of fear there are four basic questions that I ask the fear.
[Note: For the rest of this article I am going to discuss the emotion of fear as if it had its own personality. I don’t believe that each emotion has its own personality and I am not saying someone who is able to do this work has multiple personalities. You know what it is like to be of two minds. That is when you have two thoughts seemingly simultaneously that are opposite of each other. You can feel as if these two parts of your mind are in conflict with each other.
In this article we are going to deal with fear in the exact same way. I am going to talk as if we are going to have the conscious mind ask the fear for information. It is just simply easier for clarity sake to talk as if it is distinct. It isn’t really separate.]
These are the steps I take to use these questions:
- Take a deep breath and feel yourself grounded in the moment.
- Start to tap. All you need to do is just tap 6-8 times on each point and move on to the next while you do the whole process.
- Tune-in to the feeling of fear. You might do this by thinking of the thing, event, or experience that causes you fear. If it is more just an overriding feeling that is always there in the background then simply tune-in to how it feels in your mind and your body.
- Ask the fear, as if you were asking another person, one of the questions from below.
- Wait for information to come back. This information might come right away, while at other times it might take some time to come into focus.
- If you get information that is unclear or incomplete ask for more information.
- Use the information gathered for more specific tapping.
Let’s take a look at the 4 simple (and I mean very simple) but powerful questions before we look at a few concrete examples to see how this works.
What are you afraid of?
This seems like a very straightforward question, but often times we are so caught-up in the feeling of fear that we are only feeling fear and not thinking about what we are actually feeling the fear about. This is also a very good question for the feeling of fear that just always seems to be there. When we are on-edge and just feeling dread all the time there is very little thought given to what the fear is about, so this is a great question to ask.
What are you keeping safe from?
The feeling of fear is all about danger. There is something out there that can be harmful. This question is very similar to the first but comes at it in a little different way. By asking what we are being kept safe from, this is a great way to find out what the direct threat is. It is important to keep in mind that this question isn’t just about physical danger in the world, like a tiger attack. The fear could be trying to keep us safe from being embarrassed, not living up to our potential, or creating unrealistic expectations for our life.
What could go wrong?
Fear is always on the lookout for what is coming next. One of the main things it is looking out for is what could go wrong as we move forward following a certain path. If we ask the question, “What are you afraid of?” the answer might be speaking in public. When we ask, “What could go wrong?” and the answer is, “I am going to look like a fool in front of my boss,” we are starting to get to the core of the matter.
What proof do you have this is true?
Often times the fears we have are reasonable. It is reasonable that we might do a bad job giving a presentation at work and that we would look like a fool in front of the boss. But just because it is a reasonable possibility doesn’t mean that it is probable. When we ask the fear the question “What proof do you have that this is going to happen?” one of two things are going to happen. First we might be presented with a past situation where things didn’t go well. This gives us a memory that we can tap on. Second we might get, “Well . . . I don’t have any proof at all. Many times just this realization (while tapping) that there is not real proof this will happen will help to discharge some of the fear.
When we are using these questions we are going to do it in a fashion that is not necessarily in the order that is listed above. One question will often lead us to another and then again back to the first. These are just tools to help you with the conversation that you are having with the fear. It might look something like this.
Question: What are you afraid of?
Answer: Something bad is going to happen.
Q: What are you afraid of that is bad?
A: I am going to be exposed.
Q: What are you afraid you are going to be exposed as?
A: Being exposed as a fraud
Q: What proof do you have that you are going to be exposed as a fraud?
A: I don’t have any, but I don’t know what I am doing and they are going to see that
Q: What will go wrong if they see you as a fraud?
A: They are not going to trust me in the future
Q: When you didn’t know what you were doing in the past and they found out, how did it turn out?
A: Actually not too bad. When they found out I didn’t understand something they created space for me to learn the skills I needed.
Q: Now that you know it is okay to not know everything, are you still worried?
Q: What are you worried about?
A: I hate not being able to do the job right the first time
Q: What is the penalty for not getting it done right the first time?
A: Because I would be a loser
Q: What proof do you have that you are a loser if you don’t get it right the first time?
A: My father always said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
By taking the time to have a conversation with the emotion and by making sure that you take time to keep asking for more information, it is going to lead you deeper to the roots of the issue. If you are tapping while doing this question-and-answer process, you are going to be taking the edge off of the fear and then when you come to a clearly tappable issue (like the memory of the father in the example above) you go after that issue. After that issue is clear you start the process again seeing if there is any fear left. If there is, you simply start asking the questions of the fear again.