If you are determined to use your fears and phobias to the extent of really enjoying them so that they become "user-friendly," regularly do these exercises. Doing all of them as part of a regular routine will develop in you the ability to use fears to your advantage.
Remember, you are developing a life and character as you do these exercises — these are habit-forming. All these are geared towards giving you a new and fresh outlook in life and the world you are in. Most fears breed in stale life perspectives. These exercises will gradually give you a radical and positive look to dominate even the worst fears.
Note: The fears aimed to be dominated by utilizing these habits include the negative fears and phobias.
Wherever you are, try to observe what people around you are doing. If you are in the office or at home, stop what you are doing occasionally, and watch the people around you. If you are in a public transport, an eatery, or a bus station, watch and observe details about people. What are they doing? What are they wearing? What are their mannerisms? What are they doing with their fingers, feet, legs, eyes, etc.? Search for truths that come out of people during their unguarded moments. Just make sure that you do this unnoticed. Don’t be obvious.
APPLICATION: This practices your awareness and presence of mind. This also trains you to know simple facts about people immediately around you. If you observe someone who often scratches his nose, ask yourself why he is doing that. Is it always itchy? Try to imagine reasons for the action. Small truths and facts about people often manifest without their awareness during unguarded moments. If you make this observation or searching process a habit, you will develop the ability to size up persons and situations, or know the reasons behind actions. Eventually, you will find this habit amusing. This is sometimes called caricaturing. You assign people to behavioral groups in your mind according to their character types.
Practice smiling whatever the circumstance, even when the going gets tough. Also, softly whistle or hum happy tunes as you keep up a good mood and do your daily routine. Do this wherever you are, even in public vehicles or the comfort room.
APPLICATION: When pressures and tensions mount and troubles seem to be everywhere, or when somebody gets really mad enough to harm somebody else, smile. Smiling releases a natural relaxant on your muscles, triggering a calming effect. When muscles are relaxed, the emotions tend to calm down a bit. Whistling or humming merry tunes add to the relaxation. If you keep up this habit, it will lessen shock when sudden terror or trouble appears. Make sure your smile is really a manifestation of your good and high spirits, and the happy tune is really felt in your heart. Enjoy your constant preparation for anything that may come up.
Always try to guess what people are up to, or what they are thinking. Never mind if you always miss. Try to guess what they had experienced in the past, and what they are doing or experiencing in the present. It’s like a game of hit or miss. At times, you hit it correctly; at times, you miss. For instance, stare at acquaintances or officemates. Watch their mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, personal preferences, weaknesses, and strengths. As you do this, be aware of what thoughts or pictures enter your mind as you stare at these people. Then make some guesses about their past or present.
Let’s say, you notice that a person is irritable and inclined to complain. It seems that as you note these dominant traits in the person, the first thought that enters you is a crying child in a playground. Ask the person about his childhood days, especially his experiences with playmates. Without actually asking, take note if playmates liked him or if he was often rejected. If his accounts coincide with the pictures you saw in your mind, then you hit the jackpot. If not, then try better next time. Just let the person tell his story and check if your mental picture is accurate. Don’t interrogate him or act like you are a clairvoyant.
APPLICATION: As you practice this with people, you will find that your mind can easily identify certain patterns in people that often lead to similar conclusions. The point is to gradually develop the skill to read people’s thoughts and actions. By practice, you would get to a high level of sharpness in discerning people through identifiable patterns. Most people’s lives are patterned similarly. Thus, many people are predictable. They can put masks on their faces, but their lives and body actions (or gesticulations) still show some patterns that betray them. If you master this secret, you would find that influencing some people is easy.
When you discover traits and behaviors of people, then you can act towards them accordingly and tame them. You already know what tickles their weaknesses, and what triggers their annoyance.
You can then use this secret to take advantage of your fear of certain people. Your fear of strangers would become an adventure once you discover the excitement of accurately guessing their past and present, or their real personality. The real thrill comes in influencing the persons you fear. Think of what this can do to people you imagine being muggers, attackers, murderers, and other scary personalities out to get you. You can study them and ascertain if they are indeed, what they seem to be. Practicing this habit can be an enjoyable and exciting adventure.
Daily, try to do something new. If you never enjoyed watching soap operas before, try to watch one today. Take off all your biases and negative presumptions, and try to watch it sincerely. If you haven’t been in a certain place — and you often hear about it from friends — visit it with a companion. If you know you are poor in drawing so that you never tried it before, try to draw now.
APPLICATION: This attitude stretches your mind’s ability to broaden its perspectives. Studies show that irrational fears are really products of a narrow mind.
Small places are easy to conquer. When you try to drive away termites from your room, it would not be such a difficult task. But when it’s a whole town full of termites we are talking about, conquest seems impossible. The same principle applies to dealing with fears. They can easily rule a narrow-minded person. But with a broad-minded one, their capacity to control you would be almost non-existent.
Now, imagine trying many new things daily. The thrill you get from that would scare the fear out of you. Fear weakens considerably once you begin to have a bright look at life and enjoy it. New things are strong spices of life. Discoveries turn on the proverbial bulb in your mind. This enables you to see things truthfully. Seeing the truth sets you free. Fears will just be around you, but they will not be able to overpower you anymore — as long as you enjoy your life.
Eliminate procrastination out of your life. Setting for tomorrow the things that you can do today, or doing things a minute or some seconds later when you ought to do them immediately, often puts us into more troubles and deepen our slavery to fear.
Everyday, make a list or program of all the important things you have to do and accomplish for the day. Then just do them. Finish them one by one. Make sure you scratch out of the list the activities that make you idle, like watching TV, sleeping longer than usual, playing computer games, vain shopping, etc. Do include reading some chapters of a good book. Take an afternoon nap. Make sure to do the chores you frequently avoid engaging in, and do favors for loved ones and friends.
APPLICATION: Quick response is the key to any rescue mission. Even deadly illnesses can be remedied with early detection and treatment. Quick response must be preceded with careful (but not prolonged) study or thinking. Delay often worsens the situation. Furthermore, the just-do-it habit will start you on your way to a very productive life. You will begin to enjoy a very useful life, with no time wasted, and much lesser time for negative imaginations of fears. Think of what sweetness it can add to your life when you start doing good things to your loved ones and friends.
The mind often wanders off while doing a task or activity. Most people can read while understanding nothing about what they are reading. As you do things, especially as you perform your list of things to do for the day, put all your focus on what you are doing.
An added exercise for this is to choose a very positive picture, like flowers for instance, and then close your eyes to focus on them. Do this before you go to sleep at night when your surroundings are quiet. Don’t let anything else enter your mind except the flowers — swaying in the wind, in a garden, in a forest, in their varieties, and in different arrangements. Then open your eyes, while still concentrating on the same objects. See with your mind, not with your eyes.
APPLICATION: This strengthens your mind’s ability to focus on what is beautiful and positive. This also trains your mind to stay focused. As earlier said, fears are all in the mind. This exercise strengthens your mind to ignore negative things. The real benefit of this exercise is that you will begin to enjoy the ability to focus on what is beautiful and what refreshes you. You will also develop the habit of focusing and retaining in your memory only the positive things — like good encounters with people, places, and events. The point is that the more you fear a person, place, or situation, the more you must try to recall only the good in them.
Make it a point to look for positive reasons out of doing things. This time, say it verbally, even in whispers. When you take out the garbage, say to yourself verbally "It is so good to take out the garbage to keep the kitchen clean!" If you have to wash the car and clean its interior, say, "Clean cars reflect the clean people who ride them!" In everything you do throughout the day, declare with your mouth the good reasons for doing them.
APPLICATION: Verbalizing positive reasons can do wonders to encourage and strengthen a positive mind. Power is exhibited when you hear yourself declaring what is right and reasonable. Once you feed yourself daily with this mental programming habit, the emotions will submit to reason. Thus, when fears come, you can start reasoning that fears only warn you to take extra precautions to abort bad things from taking place. Fears, in themselves, have no power to harm you in any way. They are present to help you. When you are caught in a building that is on fire, you can tell yourself "I am going to get out of here. There’s always a way out of everything. God sees my predicament, and he will send help. Of course, I’m nervous. I should be. This feeling gives me double ability to proceed carefully."
As you list the things you have to do daily, program them as opportunities for a good time. If you have to take the garbage out, list it as a health activity. If you have to do a general cleaning, list it as a home wellness activity. Always treat everything as things that are fun or enjoyable to do.
APPLICATION: Everything in life, even negative incidents, must be seen as good times. When you fear a certain place and avoid passing by it, you can take a detour, not a way to escape your fear, but to have a good time and enjoy other sights. Better yet, pass by a mall or grocery and shop for a while. Each time you avoid passing by that place you fear about, think of it as a shopping trip. From time to time, do pass by that place you fear about with some companions. Then also pass by the mall or grocery. This makes the whole travel, even to the feared place, a trip for a good time.
This is different from procrastination. Waiting is looking for a good chance or for the right timing. Procrastination is simply idleness or timidity. Make it a life principle to always wait for your turn. Fall in line, no matter how long. When asked to wait, wait patiently without complaints or murmuring. Don’t rush into things, but always wait for directions or instructions, the right timing, and the right procedure. When the right instruction, time, or procedure comes, waste no time. Proceed!
APPLICATION: The point in all the waiting is to develop patience. Patience conquers many things. An ancient eastern saying, written by a man considered one of the wisest and most powerful world leaders, goes that "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper (or emotions) than one who takes a city." Great rocks and landforms have been eroded by constant water dripping. Mature patience gives wisdom to master your fears and doubts. They say practice makes perfect. Mature patience also makes you see the beauty in life.
In everything you do, assume that others are equal, if not better than, yourself. In short, always be meek and humble. Come face to face with the person you really are. Do not assume a false self. Get rid of a false sense of superiority or perfection. This falsehood deceives you when you maintain that you have no weakness. So each morning face the mirror and talk to yourself, saying:
APPLICATION: The first step to winning over your fears is to admit that you’re having them. If you pretend to be so brave as to have zero fear, you will never enjoy your fears. You would either be irritated or bothered by them. Too much anger is often a sign of irritated fear. When you finally get to admit the truth, then you can start to take the proper steps to use them to your advantage.
Whatever the situation, stressful or otherwise, keep your cool. Train yourself to like mellow music, non-agitating TV programs, movies, and even environment. Don’t let yourself get caught being angry.
In fact, train yourself to be unemotional. When something good or exciting happens, don’t be too happy. Contain the emotion and keep it simple. Joy is experienced when you have great peace inside, and not too much ecstasy outside. Learn to use cool and positive remarks like "No problem," "Sure," "It’s okay," "Good as done," "Don’t worry," and the like.
Honesty is always the best policy. Pretensions only worsen fear. If you pretend, you just add the fear of truth into your fears.
Sit down and have an honest inventory of yourself. Get a clean sheet of paper and a pen. Divide the paper into two rows. In the first row list all your positive features — your abilities, the things you are not afraid to do and say, skills, talents, etc. In the other row, list all your negative features. Be honest. Write down your fears, things you cannot do and say, your failures, etc. Then get another clean sheet of paper. Using a pentel pen, write on it with bold letters, "USE AND ENJOY." Staple this piece of paper on top of your lists. Display on a wall in your room.
Then go around your house and properties (even try walking at the park), and look for an object that best represents your personality. You may think of a rock, which may mean "My stubborn personality. I have stubborn fears and inferiority. It’s hard to get through me." Take that rock into your room. Or, you may choose to buy a sponge, which may mean "I’m soft, very vulnerable, and my personality is full of loopholes. I get easily scared and discouraged. I’m good for nothing except in scooping up dirt." Take the sponge to your room.
In a simple ritual, transform the meaning of the object you took to represent you. If you chose the rock, for instance, verbally say and put into writing that "I am a rock. I can break to pieces the mirror that reflects a false image of me. I will shatter into pieces the fears, doubts, and inferiority that keep me from being a winner." Then display that rock and what you have written about it where you can see them everyday. With the sponge, you can say and write, "Like this sponge, I can easily absorb positive teachings to change my life perspective and win over my negatives, especially my fears. I will clean up every mess that this false image has been giving me."
Whatever object you have chosen, think of positive things to say about how you would like to change for the better, and which you can relate with the object. Then daily, read the list you have posted in your room, as well as look at the object and what you have written about it.
APPLICATION: The application is obvious. This ritual will serve as a commencement exercise of a new life and will signal the start of better things to come. They will remind you of your goals. Starting with honesty as the best policy, the other traits of meekness, endurance, truthfulness, and perseverance will come in easy. The ritual is like setting up your banner or flag of conquest over new territory.
Always look at the lighter (and brighter) side of things. This mainly includes keeping your sense of humor active. Laughing at your fears is the best way of using them. Exercise your fear-dominating capabilities by sometimes watching sad, frightening, or violent TV programs or movies. Better yet, read books of the same nature.
Now, instead of reacting in accordance to the nature of the program or book, look for things to laugh at. Most people who have tried doing this have found the exercise so amusing. It is something everybody should try to do.
So, when you see in the show a serious hostage situation, laugh at the villains. Transform them in your mind as silly clowns trying to look scary. If you are watching a car chase or a manhunt, imagine that they are really trying to race each other to get to the toilet first. If it is serious drama, put off the volume and imagine them crying and arguing over a piece of candy.
You can also make fun of your fears by drawing them and making them look funny. For instance, if you fear dead bodies, draw a morgue or cemetery with the dead doing a tap dancing number or a ballet dance, or wearing bikinis. If you find zombies in movies so scary, try to imagine them (draw them in your mind) playing the part of Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music," or something like that. You can do the same to your hotheaded boss or professor who’s after your neck. When he gets to scold you hard, you might not be able to control your giggles.
APPLICATION: When you can laugh at your fears you have truly learned the secret of enjoying them. When danger occurs in real life, think of something funny to tell yourself. If you are caught in the middle of a shootout, pray something like, "God, I hope no bullet here is cross-eyed." You can mean it, too. This helps others who are with you in the danger zone. They can take time off from the peril to smile and relax. This loosening effect enables the mind and body to be more alert. You’ll soon notice that the more fearful your experiences are, the more fun they are.
About three times a week, do this exercise:
APPLICATION: You will need this armory or supply of happy moments in your times of fear. Keep them in a notebook and in your heart and mind. Review them from time to time. Then keep telling yourself how blessed you are. This will enhance your love for life. The Bible says perfect love casts out fear.
From now on, be very particular about obeying rules and regulations no matter where you are. In malls, restaurants, fast foods, public markets, and even in public toilets, obey posted rules and regulations. If the rule says to fall in line, obey. If the bus driver tells you to sit, sit. If a sales clerk tells you to proceed to the next counter, do so. Don’t litter your trash. Obey private policies of the owner when you are in another’s house or office. This will develop your law-abiding attitude.
APPLICATION: Being law-abiding will keep you out of trouble. Being out of trouble, there’s lesser chance for your fears to get triggered. This will also train you to be more careful of your actions. Wayward actions bring troubles. If the troubles are serious, they often cause impressive fears in you. This training will keep you confident, in the sense that obedience keeps troubles away. As you become more disciplined, polite, and law-abiding, you will enjoy a more orderly life.
From time to time, list down ways on how to communicate politely. There are good books on public relations in the market. There’s always a nicer way of saying things. As you list down the ways, practice them regularly in front of the mirror. Then apply them in actual situations, whether with pleasant or difficult people. Make this a lifestyle.
APPLICATION: A positively motivated sweet talk can influence even the most fearsome people on earth. Do not flatter. By sweet-talking a person, you are making him agree with your views without being obvious. It often appears that you are the one agreeing with him. When you are very gentle and sincere in the way you talk, you can easily persuade or dissuade people, even the most unreasonable ones. Then imagine the joy of influencing and convincing the people you fear. It’s like Dr. Frankenstein being able to control the deadly monster he has created.
Make it a habit to treat yourself with simple rewards. Do something challenging with the promise that you will reward yourself when it is accomplished.
For instance, if you fear darkness, keep yourself in a very dark room alone for 30 minutes. When it is done, give another 30 minutes. Tell yourself that instead of just a cone of ice cream for the first 30 minutes, you will treat yourself to an appetizing buffet if you accomplish it in an hour.
If you fear open high places, climb up a 5-storey building then look outside a window. Then climb up another five steps and look outside a window, with the promise that you will buy yourself a new shirt or dress. Then climb another five steps, and treat yourself with new shoes once you’ve accomplished it.
APPLICATION: Winning over your fears means facing the truth. Truth alone can cure fears. As you reward yourself whenever you expose yourself to truth, re-education happens. Education principles are reward and punishment principles. Good performance is given high grades and recognition. As you expose yourself to your fears and get rewarded for the bravery, a deep learning happens. This way of winning over your fears enables you to enjoy your fears as you master them.
As you do the Self-Rewarding Habit, like the exposure to total darkness, challenge yourself with a mock. A mock is a strong prodding that challenges your guts.
For instance, as you remain in darkness for 30 minutes, tell yourself from time to time, "Thirty minutes? Do you mean this is a challenge? Even a child could do this!" Then for the other 30 minutes, tell yourself, "So you do it for an hour. No big deal! Piece of cake! Shame on you if you back out of this!"
APPLICATION: You need some pushing forward to go nearer your fears so you can face them properly. It’s like a man who is blindfolded and prodded with the tip of a sword to make him go forward the edge of a diving board that looks out to the sea. The enjoyable thing about this is that the humor keeps the stress off the challenge. Yet, it is still very persuasive.