Do you experience fears? Do you know what you do with those fears? Do you embrace them? Ride their waves? Push through? Get stuck? Deny them? Do you get paralyzed by some of your fears?
When you know how to be with and engage with fear, you discover that fear has great potential power. You can recognize your fear for what it is and move with it so it can actually help you face what scares or challenges you. It’s possible to work with your fears rather than push them away or let them take over. By being able to stay present with your fears you can get a glimpse into what you’ve avoided in the past. When you uncover the messages hidden within your fear, you open yourself to create your life, here-and-now in the present.
A healthy connection to your fear helps you decode its messages. Your emotional clarity doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s never perfect. You just need to know enough to be able to respond to your fears in a more grounded, centered way. With such awareness, you can take conscious action to keep yourself safe and overcome your challenges.
When you can harness the energy of fear, you transform that energy into action. It’s remarkable what happens when you connect with your sense of agency by facing something that scares you.
The question is: how can you learn to attune to your fears in a safe, healthy way?
Fear can be tricky. Some fears are real, some are irrational. Some fears operate in your conscious or preconscious mind, and you’re generally aware of them. Those are the fears that you can feel and understand (at least to some extent). They’re attached to a story that you can remember and describe.
The fears that you can verbalize usually sound like: I’ll never find genuine love! I’ll never make enough money! I won’t live my dreams! I’m afraid I won’t be successful! I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.
But, many times, the fears that you are aware of can be rooted in other fears you’re not aware of. These are unconscious fears that you cannot see or put words to. They have been part of you since your earliest years. Long ago, something happened to you that you couldn’t understand, stop, or describe.
How can you heal your fears? Work from inside out, beginning with their origins.
When you allow old fears to show up, and you can feel them, understand them, and deal with them in a healthy way, you start healing and take your agency back.
But, this is not easy to do on your own. Old fears operate at an unconscious level – they don’t show up in the form of clear messages. Instead, they reveal themselves in your current reactions to life events through feelings, bodily sensations, beliefs, and actions that you may not be able to see or understand on your own. To add to that, old, unhealed fears will not allow you to see what you are doing now, in the present. They are deceiving – they cloud your ability to see the present with clarity. They have a tendency to get triggered and to undermine your efforts to respond in a healthy way. And, old fears can be overwhelming. You can get re-traumatized in the process and this can reinforce old fears rather than heal them. Old, unhealed fears are timeless: when triggered by current events, they feel so real as if they are happening right now. They have the power to pull you back to your most challenging moments. Instead of responding to the present moment, you’re trapped in the past.
This is where Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy comes in.
EMDR is a highly researched approach to therapy that has been approved by the American Psychology Association, American Psychiatric Association, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, World Health Organization, and other major health organizations.
EMDR is based on the concept of neuroplasticity, the brain’s capacity to create new synaptic connections and works with the body’s natural healing process. We are born with an innate neuro-healing system – just like our immune system – that helps us process and make sense of our difficult emotional experiences. One key component of this innate neuro-healing mechanism is the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) that occurs during sleep. While we sleep, the brain processes our daily experiences through REM. This nightly phenomenon soothes the mind and body and helps us recover from the difficult, stressful experiences of the day. EMDR therapy allows you to access REM’s healing power in a conscious, targeted way. Combined with a therapy that emphasizes a psychodynamic approach approach that is grounded in the neuroscience of relationships, EMDR is a powerful treatment that enables you to heal old, unhealthy responses to fears and helps you develop new, healthy ways of responding to fears that arise in the present.
Because EMDR is not necessarily used on its own, you need a good psychotherapist can help you connect the dots between present and past. They act like an emotional mirror who helps you see who you are and what your internal world looks like. That mirror is created step-by-step through the psychotherapeutic process. Fragments of your past come together so you can get glimpses into your complete internal world.
The process of building a mirroring relationship can take a while. It’s a process of becoming present, attuned, and attentive to your most private inner world, including your needs, longings, wishes – particularly the fears associated with these unmet needs, longings, and wishes.
Through a combination of EMDR and more “traditional” therapy, you process old fears and you peel away layers of unhealthy responses. In time, you can eventually replace those old feelings and reactions with healthier, constructive responses. In this way, you’re creating a more substantial, solid inner world.
And, this is what EMDR does: it enables you to heal old fears so you can take on life’s messiness, imperfections, and challenges with a sense of agency so you can stay present and connected to your life journey and actively create your life in-the-now.
If you have more questions or want to know if EMDR is a good option for you, please contact me to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with their life struggles, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creativity, relationships and love, PTSD, and addictions – to become their own best version. If you’d like to know more about EMDR please check my EMDR Therapy Page.