Embrace Your Fears

LauriA good friend, Lauri Schoenfeld, spoke at our caregivers group on April 20, 2017 at the Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) in Murray.  She gave an excellent presentation on embracing fear to move forward. She addressed what holds us back and how to overcome it so we can be our best selves. She is positive, fun and energetic.

Lauri is a wife, mother of three, child abuse survivor, scoliosis survivor and has dealt with massive depression. She revealed four tips to help us overcome our fears to enable progression. 

Written By: Lauri Schoenfeld

1. Recognize your fear and call out to it. Get clear what you’re afraid of. It can be anything. A lot of times our fears are like an onion that has multiple layers. Is it spiders, clowns, natural disasters, death, being betrayed, getting too close to someone, loss, or rejection.

  • What happened to create this fear?
  • How is it holding you back?

If you’re going to let go of fear you have to recognize it first. It’s called gaining consciousness. When you start to feel yourself getting a little anxious or fearful, stop and take notice. Think to yourself, “Oh, here it is. I’m starting to get freaked out.” Then instead of reacting on your instant emotion, breathe and see what’s going on around you that could be creating this element for you. Watch how your body reacts to the situation for future understanding. By doing this you start to disengage from the fear as the ultimate reality. It helps you to realize that you are NOT your fear.

Fear is like a fire alarm alerting you to check something out. It propels us into action. This is good, not bad. We need this. Julia Cameron says, “Fear is not something to meditate and medicate away. It is something to accept and explore.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, says that when she’s writing and feels fear sit on her shoulder, she acknowledges it and says, “Thank you for worrying about me today, but I don’t need you” and then she continues working. She doesn’t allow fear to control her choices or future because she is aware that she needs fear at times, but at other times she does not.

The ego is the part of your mind that stays focused on the past. It feeds you all the time with messages like “Watch out. It’s going to happen again.” It’s a sly trick which uses our fear that we will indeed hurt again. Instead of being open to different experiences and outcomes, we halt. Most of us are afraid of fear because so many of our experiences with fear have been negative. In reality, it is a very positive and useful tool.

Fear2. Face your fears. You have to surrender to them and become willing to create a different reality. Your life will not turn out differently unless you do something different.

  • What are your truths? (Example: Mine are being a child abuse survivor, scoliosis survivor, a writer, speaker, and a mom.)
  • Write down your truths and start peeling back the layers of the onion one step at a time. Don’t try to take it all at once as your truths are going to be deep, hard and emotional. Be gentle with yourself as you unfold each layer.

Courage

  • If you’re afraid of speaking, go speak. If you’re afraid of snakes, pet one, read a book about one or go to an aquarium and stand in front of the tank.
  • Encourage yourself to do one scary thing each day. It doesn’t need to be large. Every step forward is something to be proud of.
  • Courage, confidence and even fearlessness are the result of facing, embracing and dancing with fear, looking it straight in the eye and having a partnership with it.

3. Learn to love yourself and appreciate all that you are. Once I began nourishing myself, the fears I felt didn’t seem to control my life anymore. I began to have clarity on how to handle tough situations and challenges with more grace, patience and positivity. I began taking charge of what I wanted in my life.

Love YourselfIdeas that work for me:

  • Motivational videos – Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Tony Robbins are a few of my favorite speakers. Check out TEDTalks.
  • Gratitude journal – No matter how tough things feel, there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Looking for those things gives us the opportunity to see that we can indeed find beauty even in the darkest moments.
  • Positive Affirmations – Write five things that you want to start shifting in your mind in a positive fashion. One positive thing per card. If you have negative internal dialogue that you don’t think you’re very smart, write on your card “I’m Smart.” Use reverse psychology and say these five affirmations EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s important to say those five things like you mean it.
  • Take time out to breathe – I call these moments “Lauri Time.” Depending on the week, sometimes I can do an hour or sometimes its fifteen minutes, but do something that calms your spirits, is enjoyable, fun or creative. Whatever you need in that moment, give it to yourself. You deserve to be treated with gentle loving care too. Write a list of twenty things that you really like and once a week, treat yourself to one of those things.
  • Read uplifting books – There are so many to check out. Chicken Soup for the Soul books are some of my favorite. Form a book club with a group and read a different inspirational book each week.
  • Get an accountability/support buddy – It’s important to find someone you can share your progress with. Every step, whether it’s big or small, is important to acknowledge.
  • Surround yourself with people who can relate to you and the things you’re going through – Having this support system and team will help to keep you grounded, supported and appreciated.

Move Foreward4. Be present and realize that this is your life.

If you were told that you had six months to live, would you live in the present or the past?

What kind of things would you do? Travel to a dream destination, swim with dolphins, spend more time with family, start taking a class you never allowed yourself to do?

Why are you waiting?

Why not start now?

Put on your shield and cross the monkey bars. If you fall, get up and try again until you’re on the other side. You are NOT your fear! You’ve got this.

Lauri and I connect through writing groups and conferences. For more articles by Lauri check out, https://thinkingthroughourfingers.com/. Type Lauri Schoenfeld in the search bar. She’s written many articles for that website.

Thank you Lauri for sharing your tips on how to embrace fear to move forward.

Related Articles:

https://unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/overcoming-fear-of-failure/

https://unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway/

https://unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/five-ways-to-overcome-fear/

https://unitingcaregivers.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/overcoming-fear/

Overcoming Fear of Failure

Fear of failureI try to pick a tip and a thought to go along with a story each week. Since our living arrangements are in a rehab care facility right now, my schedule is very chaotic and I’m finding it harder to write because there are so many interruptions. I’m not complaining though because I appreciate the caregiving support of nurses, CNA’s and therapists.

As I contemplated and researched for a tip to go along with my article, I Need Thee Every Hour, I thought about our biggest worry this year, a failed surgery and/or failed recovery. I have enjoyed studying ideas on how to overcome the fear of failure, which can be debilitating and an unhealthy aversion to risk. Some classic symptoms I’ve been feeling are anxiety, vulnerability, mental blocks and perfectionism.

Our ability to manage fear of failure is a predictor of success. The supremely gritty are not afraid to fail, but embrace it as part of a process. They understand there are valuable lessons in defeat.

My research took me to a great article which I have taken the following information from. http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/overcome-fear-of-failure/

  1. Consider the cost of missed opportunities– The biggest risk that people fail to consider is the benefit they lose by avoiding high risk/high reward opportunities. High risks offer the greatest reward. Without taking risks, you can’t harness opportunities. You can live a quiet and reasonably happy life, but you are unlikely to create something new and you are unlikely to make your mark on the world.
  2. Research the alternatives– The unknown is a major source of fear. When you don’t know what you’re dealing with, potential consequences seem far worse than they actually are. Take the power out of fear by understanding it. Research all the potential outcomes (both good and bad) so you genuinely understand the risk of failure and benefits of success. Analyzing these outcomes will help you see through the fear of failure and make a logical decision.
  3. Put the worst-case scenario in perspective– One of the most powerful questions may be if you fail, how long will it take you to recover? The answer is probably less than you expect.
  4.  Understand the benefits of failure– As Emerson said, life is a series of experiments, the more you make the better. Each failure is a trial in an experiment and an opportunity for growth. Even if a failure costs you financially, the educational benefits can far outweigh the loss.
  5. Make a contingency plan– In case your first option fails, have a solid backup plan. If you manage risk intelligently, you can capture the benefits of high risk opportunities while leaving yourself a safety net.
  6. Take action– The best way to reduce fear andbuild confidence is taking action. As soon as you do, you’ll begin accumulating experience and knowledge. Everything is hardest the first time. Start off with small steps and build up your confidence until the fear of failure is manageable.

I thought these steps were excellent and by researching this topic my confidence grew. Mark’s recovery is slower than we’d like, but we took a high risk for a better quality of life. We applied all of these steps and added one more important step for us—prayer. This article helped me realize we did all we could to make a wise decision concerning Mark’s health. Now it’s important to stay positive and trust in the Lord.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

In May, my daughter, Katie had her hands full as she cared for me and her dad. I’m thrilled she accepted to be today’s guest author. 

Written by, Katie Wilson Ferguson

Katie on the zipline

2015, Katie on the zip line at Park City, UT

My recent caregiving experience reminded me of a chilly afternoon on March 1, 2015 when I stood on top of a 65-foot high tower in Park City, Utah. The mountain air smelled fresh. Some of the snow from the previous day’s storm was melting. The view was gorgeous.

With my helmet on, I was strapped into a harness clipped onto a 377-foot long rope. Just one step off the platform and I’d be zip lining above the treetops to the second tower.

What if the rope breaks? I thought to myself. What if my harness comes undone?

Feel the fear and do it anyway, I told myself as I stepped off the platform. I gasped and held my breath until I felt the rope catch my harness. I looked down to enjoy the mountain scenery as I glided above the pine trees.

I made it to the second tower where a young man greeted me. “How was it?”

“It was scary!” I replied, knowing the scariest part was about to come. The only way down from the second tower was to step off the platform for a 65-foot vertical drop.

“Just walk off the platform. Don’t run or jump off. If you’re scared, don’t look down,” he said as he fastened my harness to another rope. The rope went straight to the ground where another employee and my husband were waiting for me.

Feel the fear and do it anyway, I reminded myself. I walked off the platform before I could talk myself out of taking the plunge. I heard screaming, then realized the racket was coming from my own mouth.

2015, Katie plunging from the drop tower, Park City, UT

I didn’t stop screaming until I made it to the ground safely. I was shaking from fear, excitement and the pride I felt from conquering my fear. I smiled at my husband. “Did you hear me screaming? I wanna do that again!”

“Feel the fear and do it anyway,” is a saying I picked up at a personal development seminar several years ago. It’s also the title of a personal development book by Susan Jeffers, which I haven’t read yet. The statement reminds me it’s okay to feel scared, but it’s important to accomplish what I set out to do before I talk myself out of it. I’ve learned my confidence grows when I achieve goals that scare me. As I prove to myself I can accomplish an intimidating task, my comfort zone expands and I feel it’s possible to do even greater things.

A of couple months after my zip lining adventure, I moved in with my parents for five weeks to take care of my dad while my mom recovered from hernia surgery. Because I’m a self-employed graphic designer, I had the ability to pack up my home office to work and live at my parents’ house. My husband and I decided it would be best for him to continue living at home with our dog during weekdays and they would stay with me at my parents’ house on the weekends. Shortly after making the commitment, my mind became consumed with fears.

How will I stay on top of my work while caring for my dad? What if the experience creates friction in my marriage? What if it causes contention between my parents and me? My biggest worry was—What if I drop my dad while transferring him into his wheelchair or bed?

Dropping my dad might seem like an unusual fear, but I felt it was well justified. In October of 2011, my dad fell off the side of his bed twisting his ankle, which resulted in a bad sprain and torn ligaments. My mom usually stands my dad up when she transfers him, but he couldn’t put weight on his injured ankle. It was difficult for my mom to take care of him, so I stayed with my parents a few days after the injury to help my mom.

My dad is already prone to seizures, but his susceptibility heightens when anything else goes wrong in his body. Even when he catches a common cold he has more seizures. My dad had to endure the pain of his sprained ankle in 2011 and the additional seizures.

I knew if I dropped and injured my dad it could cause him pain, which could cause him to have more seizures. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to care for him on my own.

Those fears and dozens more were buzzing around my head for days following the commitment I made to take care of my dad. I decided to hush my fears by typing them out as they popped into mind. The worries spewed out of my head, through my fingertips and onto my computer screen. I reversed my list of fears by writing a story about the outcomes I wanted. I turned my worry of dropping my dad into statements like: “I am able to transfer him safely and with confidence. I take excellent care of my dad.” I re-worded my concerns of feeling contention with my husband and parents into, “My parents, husband and I communicate effectively…so there can be peace in our homes and lives.”

Being a spiritual and prayerful person, I took what I wrote and prayed for God to help me be successful.

A couple days before my mom’s surgery, my husband and I went to my parents’ house to learn how to transfer my dad in and out of bed and to discuss his daily and weekly schedules of care. I helped my mom dress him many times while I was growing up. As children, my brother and I helped get my dad into our family car before we got a van with a wheelchair lift. I’d seen my mom transfer him hundreds of times. Because my dad is tall and stiff, I never wanted to transfer him by myself. My mom is stronger than the average woman and I didn’t think I had the physical strength to transfer him on my own.

My mom gave my husband and I some pointers on how to successfully transfer him and then asked who wanted to practice first. Eager to get it over with, I volunteered. My dad leaned forward in his chair. I faced him, squatting to keep my back straight. I put my forearms under his armpits and my palms on his shoulder blades. His hands were on his armrests so he could push up. Feel the fear and do it anyway, I thought.

“Okay Dad, ready? One, two, three.” I pulled my dad up as he pushed off his wheelchair to stand up. He and I pivoted his body so I could sit him on the side of his bed. We did it! I conquered the fear before I could talk myself out of it. My comfort zone expanded and I had more confidence to move into my parents’ house and put our plan in motion.

Katie, I love you and this analogy, but you obviously didn’t get your sense of adventure from me. Just looking at the pictures makes me gasp. I’m glad that’s crossed off your bucket list and hope you don’t do it again. However,I appreciate your ability to overcome fear, especially the one of transferring and taking care of your dad. I enjoyed reading your point of view and imagine most caregivers at first feel the fear of that plunge and do it anyway. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story next week!

Five Steps to Overcome Fear

FearAfter the car accident I swore I’d never drive again and with a broken collarbone and totaled car I wasn’t capable of driving for six weeks. Once I was given the go ahead from the doctor I had to face my fear of driving. My parents helped me understand it was a necessity. It took months for me to feel safe behind the wheel again. At every stop sign or signal I had a fear that an unseen vehicle would hit me. How do you overcome your fears? I did a lot of praying, but here are some suggestions I thought of while remembering another fearful time for me.

  1. Analyze what you fear and why.
  2. Want it more than you’re afraid of it.
  3. Build confidence with positive thinking.
  4. Make an action plan to overcome the fear.
  5. Ask for help if needed.

2001, Christopher jumping for joy in Alaska or possibly trying to kill all the mosquitoes. They were thick in this part of Alaska.

In 2001 I took the kids to Alaska for their high school graduation gift. In my mind it would be our last chance of a family vacation with just the four of us. It was going to be the most expensive trip we’d ever taken and I wanted it to be perfect. A motor home was the most economical way for us to see Alaska. I was afraid of driving a big rig even though I was planning on renting the smallest one available. We had done lots of camping in a trailer or tent, but never a motor home. I didn’t know about the hookups and other mechanical parts of this type of R.V. and wondered how we could get Mark in and out of it. I was also fearful of being in an unfamiliar state while driving a motor home for the first time in my life.

I wanted to take our family on this trip more than I was afraid of it and I spent Christopher’s senior year saving, planning and preparing for this trip.

I built my confidence by thinking positively about it. When a doubt or fear came to mind, I pushed it aside by thinking, sure you can do this. I researched what I was worrying about and worked out my fears in my mind.

I put my positive thinking into action by studying maps and getting a clear idea of where I wanted to go and how I would get there. I studied and studied the maps, which helped me feel comfortable with an area I’d never been in before, building my confidence.

I asked a neighbor and good friend who had a motor home for help. I told Mckay of my trip plans and asked if he would teach me about the care and hookups of a motor home. He even let the kids and I work out how we could get Mark in the motor home. We literally had to carry him up the stairs. Thank heavens for a strong eighteen-year-old son! Mckay also let me drive it around town a bit so I could get the feel of it. This valuable learning experience built my confidence. I appreciated Mckay’s time and effort in helping me feel comfortable with the motor home. He spent a Saturday afternoon with us and it made the trip of a lifetime possible. All went well as I followed those five steps to overcome my fear.

I’d love to hear how you’ve conquered your fears. Please share in the comment box below.

 

Overcoming Fear

focus-on-where-you-want-to-go-not-on-what-you-fear

The advantage of research, planning and making arrangements for a vacation is the excitement of going helps me overcome my fears of getting there. In my article, Giving Thanks to a U.S. History Teacher, I mentioned my fear of flying with Mark, who is totally reliant on a wheelchair since our car accident in 1991. Besides worrying about what would happen to the wheelchair during the flight, I couldn’t imagine how Mark, with limited control of his stiff, long legs could fit in an airplane seat with minimal leg room.

We have a customized van with a ramp which enables Mark to stay in his wheelchair. This saves me from transferring him into a passenger seat, then disassembling leg rests, seat cushion and back before being able to collapse the wheelchair for the ride. We’ve done this routine many times and it becomes physically draining. Mark is a tall man (6’2” to be exact) and getting his legs into a vehicle is always a struggle. With our customized van he stays in his wheelchair and I secure it to the floor of the van. Traveling without our van is difficult, but when you fly somewhere and have to rent a van—you do it anyway for the sake of the trip.

Mark’s daily care requires special equipment for the bed, shower and commode. The tools we use daily physically make it possible for me to take care of Mark. Traveling is always a challenge, but it increases when you require gear that doesn’t fit in the luggage.

I have been asked if it ever crossed my mind to leave Mark home with extended family and just take the kids on vacation. The truth is I never did consider leaving Mark behind. Even if he wasn’t willing to go, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable leaving him with someone else. Mark loves outings and especially when it’s with family. He’s always game to try anything and has total trust we will take care of his needs wherever we are. We’ve taken him boating, rafting, on a tram ride, canoe, bus, carriage ride and on a train. None of it was easy and sometimes the ride was too rough for his body, but he always wanted to go. When strangers are lifting him out of his chair into an airplane seat or boat, he remarkably shows no sign of panic. He has good reason to fear because he doesn’t have any control of where he lands, but Mark stays focused on where he’s going instead of how he’s getting there and puts trust in whoever is helping him. No anxiety, he only expresses appreciation in all the efforts made in his behalf. This makes taking him everywhere a rewarding experience.

Luckily, we have family and friends who willingly help us do activities which would be impossible to do without their assistance. These are people who want our lives to be enjoyable by sharing experiences most people take for granted. When we were in Philadelphia, Mark and I planned on staying back while the rest of the family took a carriage ride. My brother, Steve, wouldn’t stand for that. He insisted we lift Mark into the carriage and all take the ride together. I was more worried than Mark, but I followed his lead and stayed focused on the event which helped me overcome my fear.

Philadelphia carriage ride

Philadelphia carriage ride

Scan0073

By focusing on where I wanted to go and not on what I feared, we have made many happy memories.