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Fear / Anxiety / Worry

Below are the articles in the Fear / Anxiety / Worry category. Each article title is followed by a brief summary introduction to the content. Click "Read Excerpt" for a more comprehensive review. Click "Add to Package" to buy or redeem the article.

Fear / Anxiety / Worry

Are You Too Cautious?

A quiz to help you understand the reasons for and consequences of playing it too safe in life.

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Helen Keller, blind and deaf educator, said: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Sometimes it's wise to be cautious, particularly when physical safety is at stake.

However, when we play it safe simply to protect our ego or heart, we may close off possibilities that could bring us greater joy and fulfillment. Life is what we make of it, shaped by our choices.

What are you choosing? Answer "true" or "false" to the following statements to discover if you are too cautious.

Set 1

1. Life doesn't feel safe. I'm content with things as they are and prefer to stay in my "comfort zone."

2. I'm afraid something bad will happen if I veer off my usual course. I feel safer and more confident when I stick to what I already know.

Conquer Your Fears and Empower Yourself

Fear has the power to hold someone back from taking risks, following dreams or becoming successful. Some people allow it to control them. Here are three steps they can take to break free from their fear and regain their quality of life.

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by fear—so much so that it prevented you from doing something you wanted to do? Believe it or not, this is a common problem faced by many people every single day.

Fear has the power to hold you back from taking risks, following your dreams or becoming successful at anything you attempt to do. If you allow it to control you for long enough, it can eventually erode your quality of life and keep you locked in a prison of inactivity.

What many people fail to realize is that fear is nothing more than a conditioned response. It's a natural reaction to a frightening or unfamiliar situation. While it is usually automatic, there are things you can do to overcome it. Here are three.

Check Your Expectations

One major contributor of fear is the prevalence of negative expectations. Do you usually find yourself expecting the worst in every situation? Do you worry obsessively about what could go wrong, rather than focusing on your strengths and capabilities?

Coping with Change

The only constant may be change, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cope with.

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The world seems to be changing at an extraordinary pace. We get used to the way things are, and then they shift. That change can be unsettling; even positive change can throw us for a loop.

As soon as something nudges us out of our regular routine, or challenges our understanding of how the world works and where we fit into it, we’re likely to experience a deluge of feelings, including fear, anxiety, overwhelm, excitement, distraction or denial.

In turn, those feelings can manifest in behavior. You may act out with aggressive or passive-aggressive communication. You may push yourself to overwork or take the opposite approach and procrastinate, avoiding what's on your plate.

Financial Worries: Don't Let Them Get the Better of You

Anxiety in tough times is normal. But how can we find benefit in anxiety?

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Over the past six months, Sarah has watched her business decrease by 50 percent. She’s cut expenses, but feels trapped in a costly lease she can’t afford. Her anxiety, she says, is "through the roof.”

Frank and Marilyn have well-paid jobs, and she believes that they will weather the economic downturn. However, Frank is so afraid one of them will lose their job that he has stopped paying anything but basic bills and recently yelled at Marilyn for going to the dentist.

If you have had to tighten your belt, like Sarah, it’s normal to experience anxiety. And when you read every day about failing businesses and people losing their jobs, you can understand that Frank would fear losing his. Money is connected with security, a basic need. When our basic needs are threatened, we feel alarmed.

Although uncomfortable, anxiety isn't all bad.

How Avoiding Things Keeps Us Small

Avoidant behaviors such as always being late and not returning phone calls are examples of the subtle and not-so-subtle means people adopt to side-step issues and situations. But those behaviors really serve a deeper purpose.

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Ken, a serious and long-time drinker, hadn’t been feeling good for a while and his wife insisted that he go to the doctor, which, with reluctance, he finally did. Upon examination, the doctor said, “Ken, if you don’t stop drinking, you’re going to die.” Of course, this upset Ken tremendously. When he came home to his wife, he was near tears. “The doctor said I’m going to die,” Ken wailed.

Poor Ken. He didn’t really hear what the doctor said. He was practicing one of his chronic avoidant behaviors: selective listening. He heard only what he wanted to hear and shut the rest of the message out.

Like Ken, we may adopt avoidant behaviors as subtle or not-so-subtle means to side-step issues, situations and uncomfortable feelings. These behaviors are an outer manifestation of what’s going on inside. And what’s likely going on inside is some kind of fear.

We avoid because something is at risk.

How Well Do You Cope with Financial Uncertainty?

A quiz to help you consider how much it’s costing you to buy into financial uncertainty.

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These roiling times can tip anyone’s boat, yet we have to find ways to cope. Take this quiz to see how well you are managing financial uncertainty.

T/F 1. I do my best to focus on the financial stability that exists in my life. It does me no good to obsessively worry about financial hits I’ve taken that I can’t do anything about.

T/F2. It takes time to get used to diminished circumstances. I accept my feelings and give myself a break.

T/F3. Fear plays a role in the stock market, and overly contracting as a consumer harms the economy. I invest and spend funds based on facts, not fear.

How Well Do You Deal With Worry?

Worry can help us to anticipate danger or it can be a harmful source of stress. This quiz helps determine where one falls on the continuum and also offers practical suggestions for handling worry.

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At its essence, worry is a useful response, helping us anticipate—and avoid—danger by taking constructive action. But too often, worry becomes an endless loop that makes it hard to focus and perform, and stresses our physical systems. Take this Self-Quiz to see how well you handle worry.

1. I seem confident and happy-go-lucky to everyone who knows me. That’s because I keep my worries to myself. I don’t want to burden anyone by sharing my concerns.

2. I write about my fears and concerns. This seems to take some of the power out of them. After writing, creative solutions seem to just show up.

3. I lie in bed for two or three hours at night worrying, just hoping to fall back asleep. I feel tired all the time.

4. Getting involved with my family, friends, church, neighborhood, organizations, etc., gives me the sense of being part of something bigger than myself. When I turn the focus from inside to out, my worries seem to dissipate.

How Well Do You Handle Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotion that most people experience. It becomes a problem when it interferes with a person’s daily functioning. This quiz will help determine if anxiety is having that kind of impact.

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Anxiety is the culprit that wakes us in the night and won’t let us go back to sleep. It distracts us and makes us irritable and forgetful. Physical symptoms can include trembling or shakiness, clammy hands, dry mouth, sweating, headaches, neck pain, frequent urination and heart palpitations.

Mild anxiety is normal in our daily lives and can be eased with some basic tools. Answer the following questions to find out how well you use some of these tools.

• When I feel anxious, I take deep breaths to ground myself and calm myself down.

• I get a reality check by talking to someone I trust about my reasoning or thinking or the conclusions I’ve come to.

• I watch how others get through stressful situations and model them; I ask questions about the best way to handle situations or events or people.

• When the same anxiety comes up over and over, I log and assess ¬possible causes and solutions.

How Well Do You Handle Fear?

At its best, fear is an instinctive ability that aids human survival. At its worst, it’s that nagging internal voice that heralds doom and disaster for no good reason.

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Fear keeps us from taking risks that might enrich our life or holds us back from doing some things we need to do. Do we experience new and exciting vistas? Get involved with that person or group? Accomplish something really great? Fear says, “Not on your life.” To discover the role fear plays in your life, complete the following Thriving quiz.

Set 1

1. My self-talk is filled with can’ts, shouldn’ts and ought-tos.

2. I never talk about my fears. If I do, people will think I’m stupid or weak.

3. I often find myself thinking about bad things that might happen in the future.

4. I feel trapped in or avoid social situations where it might be difficult to escape if I wanted to, such as in a crowd or on the highway.

5. I tend to need approval from family or peers before going after dreams and goals.

Make Your Worrying Work for You

Worrying may have a bad rep, but worrying, if it’s done right can actually be helpful.

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Effective worrying can anticipate problems, devise artful solutions and expand creative possibilities. On the other hand, ineffective worrying is what keeps us awake at night, distracts us during the day and gives our physical systems a workout they don’t need. According to Dr. Edward Hollowell, of the Harvard Medical School, worry is nature’s way of helping us anticipate—and avoid—danger. Good worry leads to constructive action.

When you find yourself in bed at night, tossing and turning, plowing the same field again and again, you’re in the midst of worry of the worst kind: self-perpetuating. The more you worry, the more stress chemicals feed back to the brain, telling it to worry more.

When you find yourself mired in this worry bog, the best thing to do is to get physical. Get up, move around. Action will temporarily relieve the worrying. Who knows, when you come back to the problem, you may have a better perspective on it.

Scare Yourself Into the Life You Want

Do the thing you fear—and get the life you’ve always wanted.

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Go on…what’s stopping you? Go ahead and ask your boss for a raise. Speak up the next time you disagree with someone. Call that person you met in the elevator. Start that business you’ve been talking about for a decade. Audition for the part. You fill in the blank.

Are you afraid? If so, congratulations! You’ve just identified the pool you need to dive into to reclaim your life. If you pass, however, claiming the water’s too cold or you just don’t feel like swimming today, the fear wins. And you lose.

“Fear stands between you and your ability to go anywhere you like, do anything you want, and meet anyone you please,” writes Rhonda Britten, author of several books on fear, including Fearless Living and Fearless Loving.

When we face fear, when we act in spite of the fear, we grow. As we expand, we push through our perceived limitations, out far beyond our comfort zone. We embrace freedom and become unstoppable forces in our own lives. And it feels sooooo good!

Taming Fear, the Little Word with a Big Voice

Fear can keep us from enriching our lives and doing what we need and want to do. Fortunately, there’s help.

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At its best, fear is an instinctive, natural ability to help us survive. Without fear we might attempt to stroll across freeways or scratch behind a lion’s ears. But given the upper hand, fear can dominate our life and make even the innocuous—taking a walk or answering the phone—a daunting experience.

Ninety-nine percent of what we worry about never happens, according to Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. “There’s a voice inside our heads that’s always heralding doom and disaster even before we get started on something,” she says.

On its own, fear won’t disappear. Following are some strategies to help you deal with fears that might be holding you back from something you want or need to do.

• Get information. In an information void, fear clicks in to do what it thinks is its job. But when you find out about what scares you, you replace fear with knowledge.

The Courage to be Authentic

While security may appear to be the absence of change, the only genuine security lies in taking risks.

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What could be riskier than diving out of an airplane or climbing a glacier-covered peak or accelerating a race car into a curve at the Indy 500?

For one person it might be quitting a secure, well-paying job to go back to school. For another, it could be deciding to leave a marriage after 18 years or reporting that the company they work for is endangering the environment or people’s lives.

Though it may not appear so at first glance, psychological risks that summon us to put our personal values and beliefs on the line may ultimately feel more dangerous than those of physical derring-do. Yet these are the challenges that we are asked to face time and again if we are to continue to grow as individuals. Each time we take a risk that contributes to our personal growth or enhances our self-esteem or enriches our lives, we make the choice to stretch ourselves, knowing there are no guarantees and chancing possible failure.

The Fears That Prevent Us from Speaking Up

Do you value being seen and heard? Do you want to have truly successful relationships? Do you want to make an impact on others? Then speak up! Of course, that’s easier said than done.

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You might prefer to train wild lions than tell another person what’s really on your mind. But it is possible to develop an assertiveness connected to head and heart that clears the way for honest, empowered living—without being rude to others or surrendering to “nice-itis.”

Those who stay mum when they would be better off speaking their mind do so for a variety of reasons:

•Fear of being rejected. Any time you risk disclosing yourself, you become vulnerable. Communications skills, such as those taught in Non-Violent Communication (NVC) or Powerful Non-Defensive Communication (PNDC), teach how to combine vulnerability with strength and compassion for power¬ful connections.

•Fear of what you would tell yourself if you or any requests you make are rejected. If you speak up and tell your officemate how much you would like to go out with her, you definitely risk rejection. But if you are rejected, does that really mean you’re unlovable? Destined to a life alone? Or is that just a story?

To Do or Not to Do? That Is the Commitment Question

Marie longed for a permanent relationship, but kept gravitating toward men with “a commitment problem.” They were married, from another state, getting over an old girlfriend…. But perhaps the problem was actually Marie's.

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What Marie didn’t recognize was that she was exhibiting the same conflict over commitment as the men she was criticizing. True, she wasn’t running away from permanent relationships. In fact, she appeared overwhelmingly focused on love and loving, and completely willing to commit. It was Marie who always wanted more out of the relationship, and the men who wanted space.

“Then it dawned on me one day that if I keep finding myself with men who are running away from commitment, then I’m running away, too,” she said. By choosing men with one foot permanently out the door, Marie kept her own options always open.

Marie’s “passive” avoidance, as compared with the “active” avoidance of running away, is perhaps less recognized, say Steven Carver and Julia Sokol, in their book He’s Scared, She’s Scared. But it is no less common.

Commitment and Life

Like Marie, many of us fail to understand the ways we avoid commitment and the ways in which this hidden conflict may be creating chaos or pain in our personal lives. And if we don’t understand how these feelings affect our behavior, we run the risk of sabotaging not only our relationships, but other areas of our life, as well.

Top 10 Fears That Keep Us From What We Want

Fear is an important survival technique that kept humans from getting eaten by bigger animals and that prevents people from jumping off cliffs. But what about those fears that purport to keep people safe, but actually keep them stuck?

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Fear often stands between us and our ability to make decisions, take actions, ask for what we want—even to know what we really want. It is the gatekeeper of our comfort zone. But as poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” Below are 10 fears that commonly get in our way.

1. Fear of being judged. Needing approval from family or peers can keep us from going after dreams and goals.

2. Fear of rejection. Rejection just means that someone else has a different opinion.

3. Fear of emotional pain. Rather than incapacitate us, painful feelings can sharpen our sense of joy and gratitude.

4. Fear of embarrassment. Making mistakes publicly is awful only when we let ourselves feel ashamed.

Top 10 Fears That Ruin Relationships

Fear is often present in relationships, but it doesn’t have to sabotage the relationship. This article helps one recognize fears and be more able to work with them.

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Loving someone is risky business, so it's natural that fear is present in relationships. But when fear operates in our life in a way that hurts us or hurts others—through aggression or withdrawal—it becomes a problem. Recognizing these fears and how they affect our life can help us make the necessary changes to get the love we want.

1. Fear of losing freedom. Tied down, trapped, cornered, stuck—this "claustrophobia" points to mistaken beliefs about what relationships are supposed to be. The ability to say No in a loving and respectful way, and to set clear and fair boundaries, is an essential ingredient of a healthy relationship.

2. Fear of conflict. Let's face it—love can be messy. But it doesn't have to be destructive. Constructive communication skills can be learned. When handled with caring and respectful communication, conflicts can become vital building blocks of deeper trust and intimacy.

Top 10 Tips for Managing Financial Anxiety

Anxiety can be the motivator of positive action, which, in turn, reduces anxiety.

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Although uncomfortable, anxiety can motivate positive action. And by taking that action, our anxiety lessens. Here are a few proactive strategies and other tips.

1. Acknowledge your role. If you made a questionable financial choice, face it, understand why you made the choice, and then let it go.

2. Take action. Confront your situation and take appropriate steps, whether that’s negotiating with creditors or seeking other sources of income.

Top 10 Ways Anxiety Presents Itself

Anxiety is common, but when it interferes with normal life functions, it’s a problem that needs support. Article lists ways anxiety shows up and offers tips on how to lessen it.

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Common symptoms of anxiety include racing heartbeat, rapid breathing and butterflies in your stomach. However, anxiety can present itself in numerous other ways.Here are 10, along with some tips for reducing anxiety and stress.

1. Constant worries/dread. You feel anxious nearly all the time, although you may not know why.

2. Impaired thinking. You have difficulty forming thoughts, concentrating, remembering or learning new things.

3. Fatigue. Anxiety increases the production of stress hormones, which can leave you feeling exhausted. Adequate nutrition, hydration and sleep can boost energy.

Top 10 Ways to Love Fearlessly

Approach love with the courage of a warrior and watch your relationships soar.

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Let’s face it: love is messy. With its magnified highs and lows, love is unpredictable and never what we expect—so much so that we might be tempted to cower in fear. But if we approach love with the courage of a warrior, we can have relationships of heroic proportions. Here are 10 ways:

1. Be yourself. If we want to be loved for who we truly are, why put on an act?

2. Don’t believe your stories. Our interpretation of events and feelings is, in fact, just one possibility for what is actually true. Focus on what IS to get closer to the truth.

3. Stop looking for perfection. More than likely, what we call “high standards” is a mask for our own feelings of inadequacy.

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