You know why the book version of a story is often better than the movie version of a story? Because we get to use our imagination to fill in the blanks.
Instead of having someone hand us their version of events on the silver screen, our imagination gets to conjure up scenarios that are far more passionate, horrifying or altogether gripping than anything anyone else could ever provide.
While this is a dandy habit that lets us fully enjoy a good story, it can turn into a dreadful annoyance when it comes to fears.
Creating fears that don’t need to exist
Fears can fester and grow when you continue to fuel them with negative thoughts. In fact, many fears are actually BORN because of our negative thoughts. Take the common fear of death, for example, which is a fear that stems from the great unknown.
Since most of us aren’t 100-percent certain what happens after death, we can sit around imagining all sorts of horrifying scenarios.
What if we are forced to come back as dung beetles or sperm whales? Worse yet, what if we don’t get to come back at all, and just disappear into nothingness as we totally cease to exist?
This fear has followed me around like a lost puppy since childhood. It wasn’t uncommon for me to wake up, freaked out and screaming, because I was so terrified of disappearing into nothingness after I died.
Yet the terror that was plaguing me was of my own making. I don’t know for sure what happens after death, right? But for some reason I am more than eager to automatically expect the worst. That’s where the useful technique of reframing fear comes in.
Overcoming fear by reframing fear
Rather than imagining the worst case scenario related to any particular fear, we can reframe our fear and imagine the best. I fell in love with the reframing fear exercise I picked up during my life coaching training, a simple yet powerful tool for exorcising all those imaginary boogeymen.
The exercise is broken into two parts.
Part one explores how you create or increase your fears through misuse of imagination.
- I am afraid to:
- And I scare myself by imaging _________________________ if I did.
Here’s where you reframe the things you fear, or want to do but are too afraid to try. Instead of scaring yourself by imagining a negative outcome, encourage yourself my imagining a positive outcome.
- I want to:
- And I encourage myself my imagining:
Overcoming fear of death
Plug fear of death into the reframing fear equation, and it looks like this:
- I am afraid to: die.
- And I scare myself by imaging my soul will cease to exist and I’ll disappear into nothingness if I did.
- I want to: continue to exist after death.
- And I encourage myself my imagining: my soul lives on in blissful eternity, surrounded by insect-free tropical rainforests, brilliant sunshine, all kinds of animals and the spirits of those I loved here on earth.
Write the answers down, and keep them handy as a reference every time that particular fear arises.
Continue to reframe the fear, again and again, until it gets the hint that you’re done scaring yourself by imagining the worst case scenario – and instead are encouraging yourself by imagining the best. Enjoy!
Fear-busting bonus: Get a free copy of the Reframing Fear worksheet to use as frequently as you wish.