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Saturday, January 25, 2014


With the diagnosis of the two cancerous spots on my face and the upcoming cancer surgeries, I have come to "face" fear more intimately than I wanted.

All of us will have to deal with fears. 

Much of the rise in anxiety is related to people feeling their connections with others are less stable–

there’s been an increase in divorce, fewer people are getting married and they’re less engaged in their churches, synagogues and local institutions.

While many Americans’ lives are improving in every material way, their expectations for happiness are also rising and they feel less satisfied. 

Fears come, sometimes out of the blue, and many people have no support structure with which to buttress their bruised emotional selves.

So what do you do when Fear seems to be about to swallow you whole?

1. Take time out

It feels impossible to think clearly when you’re flooded with fear or anxiety.  Distract yourself from the worry for 15 minutes by walking around the block, making a cup of tea or having a bath.

When you’ve physically calmed down, you’ll feel better able to decide on the best way to cope.

2. What’s the worst that can happen?

When you're anxious about something, be it work, a relationship or an exam, it can help to think through what the worst end result could be.

For me, I thought it was dying sooner than I expected.  What did Woody Allen say: "I'm not afraid of dying.  I just don't want to be there when it happens."

Then, a co-worker told me her uncle had the same surgery on the same spot as I was going to have it, and he looked like the Elephant Man afterwards.  So disfigurement joined hands with dying. 

Then, the thought of the ordeal of chemotherapy or radiation therapy rose up to show me another face of fear.

I thought of something I have learned: most of the things I was afraid would happen never did.  Not that dreadful things didn't happen.  They did:

My fiancee died, my childhood friend, my mother, my home burned to the ground, and I was forcibly evacuated from my city, not once but twice.

And you know what?  The Father saw me through each one of those experiences.  He promised to be with us as we walked THROUGH the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

If facing the WORST of your particular fear starts to get to you:

If you start to get a faster heartbeat or sweating palms, the best thing is not to fight it. Stay where you are and simply feel the panic without trying to distract yourself.

Placing the palm of your hand on your stomach and breathing slowly and deeply (no more than 12 breaths a minute) helps soothe the body.

It may take up to an hour, but eventually the panic will go away on its own. The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic, which takes the fear of fear away.

3. Don’t expect perfection

Black-and-white perfectionist thinking trips many of us up.  Life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect.

Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and it’s essential to remember that life is messy. 

4. Visualise

Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a place of safety and calm:

it could be a picture of you walking on a beautiful beach, or snuggled up in bed with the cat next to you or a happy memory from childhood.

Let the positive feelings soothe you until you feel more relaxed.

5. Talk about it

Sharing fears takes away a lot of their scariness. If you can’t talk to a partner, friend or family member, call your local helpline. 

There are books on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Rational Emotive Therapy.

Dr. David Burns has a grand book: FEELING GOOD: THE NEW MOOD THERAPY -

Only $4.74 for the Kindle edition.  What a bargain!  It will revolutionize your outlook.  Trust me.

6. Go back to basics

A good sleep, a wholesome meal and a walk are often the best cures for anxiety.

The easiest way to fall asleep when worries are spiralling through the mind can be to stop trying to nod off. Instead, try to stay awake.

I find that thanking the Father for the things that went right or the things that made me laugh or smile that day will relax me, and I will drift off to sleep.

7. Reward yourself

Finally, give yourself a treat. When you’ve picked up that spider or made that call you’ve been dreading,

reinforce your success by treating yourself to a candlelit bath, a massage, a country walk, a concert, a meal out, a book, a DVD or whatever little gift makes you happy.

I hope this has helped some of you in some small way.  :-)


  1. Another nice post. Which of these techniques helps/has helped you most?
    I have discovered that fear isn't rational, and would like me to be as irrational as it is.
    Something which works for me, is waiting it out.
    And distraction. Worried about a trip to the doctor? Play in the garden, watch the birds, pat the cats.

  2. Elephant's Child:
    Many of Dr. Burns' techniques help me. Distraction is a great tool. Petting my two cats helped a great deal. But alas both are now dead.

    Focusing on the words: My times are in the Father's Hand - helps at night -- along with listing all the trials survived that particular day and all the moments of beauty He granted me.

    Watching films that make me laugh - UNCLE BUCK, PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES - SILVER STREAK or watching the DVD of glimpses of nature along with Bible verses that I remember watching with Gypsy my cat, sitting on the right arm of my recliner.

    Thanks for always being my friend, Roland

  3. It helps if you can recognize that you are having an anxiety attack. Slowing down my breathing was my first step when it happened to me.

    In my case, I was alone, I had flown cross country to my Mom's memorial service, and I wanted to get out of town (Atlanta) before Hurricane Ivan arrived.

    Breathe, write or talk about it, and put it in perspective. Trust.

  4. D.G.:
    I am so sorry you were alone when the anxiety attack hit. I am glad you knew what to do when it did.

    All of your ideas are good -- trust is the most important.

    Thanks for being in my corner. :-)

  5. You've got a good plan in mind; I hope it works. Let us low how the steps go!

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

  6. Um, make that second sentence read: :Let us know how the steps go!: Sorry.

  7. 10 Deadliest is a website dedicated to posting lists of the worlds top ten deadliest weapons, animals, locations and people.

  8. We do always want things to be perfect and sadly that cannot be. Life is, as you say, messy and unpredictable. I am a natural worrier and that knot of anxiety often weighs heavy but I do believe in distractions, especially a walk and trying to focus on the good things. My thoughts are with you, Roland, this is a wonderful post.

  9. Rob-Bear:
    The steps are for everyone who is facing fear in their lives. Thanks for wishing me well. I'll keep you posted on how life is going for me. :-)

    There is an 11th deadliest person: the surly, mean-spirited, short- tempered Lab Tech I work with on the weekends!

    You and I are both natural worriers then! Thanks for your support and for the kind words. :-)

  10. The Father will see us through anything.
    And if you are filled with faith, fear can't enter.

  11. much I've missed during my absence...thoughts and prayers for your upcoming procedure.

    And as always, Roland, great post, one I'll be sharing with my oldest son, who really needs to read this.


  12. Goodness - two cancerous spots on your face and the upcoming cancer surgeries! I am very sorry to hear this, Roland.

    Hope all goes well. Take good care of yourself. Thinking of you.

  13. They say, without fear there cannot be courage. You, dear Roland, are a courageous man.

    Thinking of you. Be well.
    VR Barkowski

  14. Alex:
    When I found my gas tank empty as Hurricane Rita, catagory 5 rushed towards my then empty city, I knew the Father was with me, would see me through, but I confessed to Him that I was more than a little apprehensive. He saw me through (probably with an understanding smile on His face.)

    I'll be praying for your eldest son. The teen years are some of the hardest years we have to experience.

    Hard times come to us all. I should not whine about what happens to everyone, should I? :-)

    As always a wise comment. Have you seen any episodes of COURAGE, THE COWARDLY DOG? He is filled with fear but somehow gets the job done.

    With The Father's help and the support of my friends, so will I.

    I worked 16 hours straight Sunday with only 6 hours sleep so I could not reply to you, my friends. Whew!

  15. Sending positive vibes and prayers your way, Roland.

  16. Hi Roland .. Fear is terrible and quite debilitating to put it mildly ... however I haven't experienced illness fear. I think having had my experiences and been here reading blogs and others' experiences I would hope that I'd cope fairly well.

    I'm sorry both your beloved cats have died and aren't there to help .. they seem to and recognise sadness and thus comfort when it's required. I just hope there are some friends or colleagues whom you relate to - and can go to when needed, be there in person for you ...

    So much can be done now-a-days and thinking along the positive trail I hope will ease your journey .. we worry quite often before time - thus making matters in our heads worse ...

    My thoughts Roland - just doing what helps you ... will help you, as well as the normal advice: eat healthily, more water and as much sleep as possible ... but I'm back in the land of blogging so will check back in .. with hugs Hilary