Reducing Fear and Guilt

This is the biggie of all biggies. Fear is our natural reaction to an immediate threat or imminent danger. We are born with two fears—the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. As we develop and are able to run or fight we also develop fears of threatened annihilation or eminent threat to ours or others survival. Remember our cave-men ancestors when a saber toothed tiger showed up for dinner had to run or fight. Fear is a primitive emotion that can save our lives but when it gets stimulated and there is nowhere to run or nothing to fight, it will send us immediately into a waking hypnotic state or trance.

Fear is usually felt in the heart or solar plexus and sometimes in both places. Many of my clients have described it as stomach pain while touching their solar plexus. It appears to be most intense there… in the diaphragm. If you’ve ever had the wind knocked out of you then you know where this area of the body is!

If there is a lot of fear and it seems to be running away with you, then first— identify the emotion and state it in present-tense to yourself— something as simple as, “I’m afraid” can be  enough—or just imagine for a moment that your emotions are like a small child (because they come from your subconscious mind which was largely programmed before age eight). What could you say to reassure the child and let it know that you hear what it is saying and feeling?

If you were a loving parent you wouldn’t invalidate the child’s reality by saying “You aren’t afraid or— there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Remember the Subconscious mind does not acknowledge or hear the negatives in an affirmation— so the statement “You are (not) afraid” is heard as “You are afraid”. This can serve to affirm the fear and can make it escalate.

A very powerful affirmation that validates the emotion but slows down the energy of any negative program that may be running is a statement of fact like— “You’ve been afraid before”. This is an extremely powerful inferred affirmation and re-frame at the same time. The inference is— you’ve survived this emotion before, and you will survive it again. The affirmation “You’ve been afraid before” calms down the intensity of the emotion and allows or creates a small gap in our running stream of thoughts as they are dropping into the Subconscious. It is the adult- you or parent-you soothing the fearful child-you. The child wants desperately to have someone take control because fear can grip us tightly.

Fear can make a lot of noise in our head and create a lot of physical discomfort and pain as well. If you tend to process information more literally, something like— “I am brave and optimistic” may feel better to you. All of this work with affirmations and re-frames is about parenting or re-parenting ourselves. As always, as long as these are stated in present-tense— are believable to you— and meet the litmus test of, making you feel better, then you have just re-parented yourself successfully.

Guilt is a gut-wrenching experience as well. In fact, it is probably as powerful as Fear in many instances. If you have a lot of guilt and haven’t done anything to hurt anybody intentionally then you need to be very clear that it is always coming from a strong negative subconscious program, meaning it was given to you when you were very young and suggestible. But, you must remember…it is only a program! It is usually felt in the stomach but can also be felt in the back and pelvis.

Oftentimes, shame is mistaken for Guilt. John Bradshaw, author of –“On the Family” makes the distinction between the two like this: (I’m paraphrasing him here) Guilt says; I made a mistake and what can I do to correct it or make up for it?  Shame says; I am a mistake! The difference is huge! One is a normal response to a human mistake and the other has been programmed into us at an early age.

If you are feeling a lot of Guilt or shame— and it is running away with you—telling yourself something like— “You’ve felt this way before” is a statement of fact and serves as a reality check that creates a brief moment of silence or space— away from the monkey mind and puts the emotion of Guilt a little more in perspective.

You may have to say “You’ve felt this way before”— to yourself —a few times until— the intensity of this emotion dies down a bit. This will help you to observe the emotion for what it really is and it will weaken its grip on you. John Bradshaw speaks of shame as toxic guilt. Re-parenting your-self with the use of affirmations like above helps to move us back into present-time. Guilt or shame is almost always about the past so that alone tells you it is a negative Subconscious program. Just knowing that alone will help you to observe it with more clarity and perspective.