Everyone says that the best way to start fighting fear is to learn about the thing that you most fear. Chris Brogan talks quite a bit about it in his book, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth and these are some pretty amazing quotes as well:
The concept about learning more about that which you fear made absolutely NO sense to me. At least, it didn’t until our dog started having seizures. We adopted him, literally from the street, when he was just a baby (about 8 weeks old) and he quickly became a beloved member of our family. Not one that most would choose, even his breed name meant “lowest of the low”, but he was truly loyal, energetic and adored by everyone who met him.
The first time I got a phone call, I was instantly in a state of panic. He was at the enrichment class we call doggy daycare and one of the staff told me as I drove that she wasn’t sure what happened, but he apparently had a seizure, and it was long enough that she had to physically lay with him on the floor until it stopped, a very long two minutes later.
I am not sure whether he had any previously or how many more he had since then – out of my presence – but the first one I witnessed was horrifying.
I stood – absolutely as stiff as a board as I watched his legs twitch and his eyes go glassy. I was literally frozen in fear and had no idea what to do or how to help. My feet felt glued to the floor and my arms felt heavier than I would think possible. When he collapsed on the floor and his entire body convulsed, I suddenly snapped to attention and went to work. I asked my middle little for a towel. Also for water and then I think, I asked for my phone to try and time the duration of the seizure. I laid on top of him – my entire body over his – to keep his head from hitting the tile floor. When it was over, I burst into tears.
After seeing one, I put a lot of energy in finding out more about seizures. We learned that crazy, erratic behavior out of the blue can sometimes be the prelude to a seizure. Seizures aren’t always full blown affairs. Sometimes they only result in twitching. I was significantly fearful about SA’s rapidly declining health because I didn’t know what was happening. We spent visit after visit with the vet clinic trying to figure out his issues, including multiple sets of blood being drawn, x-rays and a lot of medication.
It got to the point of seriousness where his behavior snowballed into something that I was no longer comfortable quietly and apathetically going along with not knowing. We made the decision to go full board and finally exhaust all options for educating ourselves and scheduled a MRI, where we quickly learned that a very large and very aggressive set of tumors had completely invaded his brain and nasal cavity and showed no signs of stopping.
We then were left with the very heart-breaking realization that our only choice was to let him go in peace as there was nothing the doctors could do. We are still missing him every moment, but we have some amazing memories of our time with him, just shy of four years. I’ll talk more about him and the value that pets can add to a family in future posts, but let’s keep going on this concept of facing your fears by educating yourself.
I firmly believe that this is an equation that is solid and non-negotiable in life, not just when dealing with medical issues with your pets. When you know nothing about <insert your thing>, it is super easy to be deathly afraid of it, walk in fear and tiptoe around it. When you know more about <insert your thing>, it becomes easier to handle the reality of that fear. You regain control, simply by doing some research or filling your daily existence with knowledge.
How do you actively tame that fear though, and learn more about the <insert your thing>?
First, name your fear.
In this case, it was the unknown future medical diagnosis. It was also the scary situation of watching the suffering of a being who couldn’t speak about his pain. The process of naming your fear may not be an easy process, and I would strongly suggest you brain dump and spend some honest time with yourself writing it all down. Feel free to download the free .pdf at the end of this post.
Second, identify the trigger points.
The next action step should be to talk yourself through 3-4 things that are bothering you the most about the fear. Whichever one(s) has the biggest emotional response from you will be the focus.
Third, brainstorm where you can cut the wire.
Identify 2-3 things you can do to change your reality about that situation. Look at each of those things you’ve identified and think in terms of cutting the wire to diffuse a bomb. Maybe you are worried that you will go broke if you say no to a client? Cut the wire by researching options for other income generators. If you are fearful of making a decision to move house, cut the wire by committing to educate yourself about the cost of living in three potential neighborhoods.
Fourth and finally, tell someone about your fear.
That sounds scary, I know, but the more you talk about your fear, the less it becomes scary. Simple! Commit to yourself to share this discovery with a loved one, a trusted friend, or an accountability partner.
If you’re feeling extra brave, share in the comments! I’d love to help support you through your fierce fear-fighting process!!