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How to Reframe Our Fears So They Don’t Stop Us

Overview

I’m going to thread together methods you can use to (1) manage your fears so that you can (2) create your ideal life being your Authentic Self (3) with a spirit of self-compassion. You’ll be able to use these tools to create a high quality life if you study this carefully.

 

Where are you now?

If you’re like most Highly Sensitive People, you want to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

I’d like to invite you to take one minute to reflect on the following question. 

To what degree are you living your most authentic life?

Low 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 High

I know that can be a big question, but think about it for a minute. 

Here are a few ways that you can tell if you are acting congruently with your Authentic Self.

1.    If someone asks you, “How are you doing?” do you reply, “I’m fine.” But, the truth is you are exhausted or hurt or irritated. 

2.    When someone makes a request of you, does your inner critic tell you that you are selfish if you say no? Is it more important to think about others than yourself?

3.    When your emotional needs are not met, do you feel comfortable making clear requests so you can feel more fulfilled?

4.    If you have a conflict, do you openly share your vulnerable feelings, or are you more likely to become reactive or analyze what the other person is doing wrong?

5.    If someone yells at you, do you feel intimidated and go quiet or yell back? 

6.    Do you long to live the life of your dreams, but you are so busy putting out fires that you don’t make time to proactively take the steps to cultivate the garden of your spirit?

 

Now go back and rate the degree to which you are living an authentic life. 

Low 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10   High

There’s no right or wrong, or good or bad. Please ask your inner critic to step back. I am more interested in you learning how to take the next step toward living your authentic life … not beating yourself up.

OK?  Agreed?

The first step to creating a fulfilling life that is rooted in your Authentic Self is to tell the truth about where you are now. 

Credit: Nick Seagrave on Unsplash

Let’s say you were planning a trip to the Redwood National Park, and you wanted to take a map with you so you wouldn’t get lost if the GPS goes out. Highly Sensitive People like to be prepared for such possibilities.

 If you were going to use Google maps, you’d first enter your current location, then your destination.

It’s the same with creating your life. You have to know where you are now. This includes your thoughts, your feelings, what you’re feeling in your body, and your interpretations about yourself and the world. 

Why is it so important? Being in touch with all these things allows you to be grounded in the here and now… in your body.  If you are not grounded, you won’t be present … for yourself or anyone else.

When you examine your interpretations about yourself and the world, you can discern which are true and accurate and which are false. 

Credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Many times, our interpretations generate fear on an emotional and physical level.

They spin us around like a top careening around the floor. 

It’s normal to want to run from our fears and avoid them. 

But you know what? The truth is that often Highly Sensitive People ruminate about our fears. The inner dialogue goes something like this:

What if I show up and I tell the truth about my thoughts and feelings, and he ends the relationship? 

What if I make too many requests, and my boss finds a way to oust me?

What if I’m authentic and people say I’m selfish? I remember the time when one of my co-workers retorted, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.”  She didn’t want to understand me or my needs. She didn’t realize that she was the one who was being self-centered. I didn’t have enough insight to tell her that at the time. 

Most of us don’t like the part of ourselves that carries our fear so we develop strategies to ignore that part.

We avoid our fears by caring for others, by working too much, and by thinking that we need to be productive to have worth. It’s an unconscious unexamined habit.

We don’t take time to be quiet and still and get in touch with our inner selves and our spiritual guidance. 

Many clients in the early stage of therapy tell me that they don’t have time for quiet introspection or meditation. But the truth is, they don’t want to consciously connect with the part of them that carries the fear, but they don’t know that yet.

We can reframe our fears. They don’t have to stop us.

Consider the following acronyms for fear.

·      False Evidence Appearing Real

·      For Everything a Reason

·      Face Everything and Recover

·      Feeling Excited and Ready

 

Credit: Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Take a few minutes to journal your answers to the following questions. Write your answer before reading the next question. 

Make a list of the qualities of your ideal personal and professional relationships.

Do you have that kind of relationship with yourself? Are you being a good friend to all parts of yourself? Or are you trying to banish some parts … such as your fear?

Focus on the part of you who carries your fear and bring compassion to that part. Instead of pushing it away, invite that part to sit down and have tea with you. Get to know that part just as if it were one of your good friends.

Use your imagination to write an inner dialogue between the fearful part and your Wise Self and/or your spiritual connection. 

How does the fearful part feel? Why does it feel that way? How old does it seem to be? Write about all of the fearful part’s qualities and characteristics.

What would help the fearful part feel safe and comforted? You want to build a strong emotional attachment with this part so it can feel safe.

What action on your part would help that part feel safe and meet its underlying needs?

What risks are you willing to take to help this part?

Are you willing to take conscious action in a healthy non-reactive way?

Do grounding exercises.  Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Imagine you are a large tree with roots that reach into the center of the Earth. Call on your spiritual connection for supernatural strength. Imagine a protective barrier surrounding you that keeps your energy intact and keeps others energy out.

Think about what it would be like to express your Authentic Self … but … then you stop yourself because the fear arises.

What are you are no longer willing to live with because it requires you NOT to express your Authentic Self? 

What is the price you are paying?

What does your body experience when you are not being authentic?

How does it affect your productivity?

Your mood?

Your mental functioning?

How does it feel to NOT proactively move in the direction of your fondest dreams because you are too scared?

Keep checking in with your fearful part. Stay close and compassionate. Keep asking what it needs to feel safe. Figure out one little actionable step that will help. Then take the next step, and the next. Continue dialoguing with your Wise Self and your spiritual connection.

 

How important is it to you to upgrade your skill level so you can manage your fears AND move forward in your life with the greatest integrity?

Who and what do you want to ideally align with?

How committed are you to moving forward?

What will happen in your life if you don’t do high quality inner work?  Do you think it will change or stay the same?

 

Credit: Caleb Jones on Unsplash

The Invitation

If you would like support to work with your fears and figure out how to take your next steps to feel fully empowered, consider working with me individually or ….

join us for an intensive Highly Sensitive Person Retreat. You’ll get to work on your own issues, and you’ll also learn vicariously from the other group members. You’ll learn things you didn’t even know you needed to learn. The whole group will move from the shallow waters to the deep end of the pool. You’ll feel safer because you are buoyed up by like-minded friends. 

You’ll learn a new mindset … one that leads to the pure joy of being your Authentic Self nestled in the relationship with your spiritual connection … following your divine guidance every step of the way. 

If you would like individual life coaching and spiritual counseling, please complete the questionnaire on the Contact Page.

 

Benita Esposito. Credit: Alysia Hargus Photography

About Your Facilitator

Benita A. Esposito, MA is the author of the bestseller, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self available on Amazon. The kindle, paperback, and audiobook (narrated by the author) have sold over 8,400 copies as of April 2022.

As a highly sensitive person herself, Benita can easily understand you, your challenges and your beautiful gifts.

Zoom videoconferences are available worldwide.

Click here to read Benita Esposito’s credentials and story.

Click here to contact Benita Esposito to inquire about life coaching, spiritual counseling and retreats for Highly Sensitive People.

Empaths Feel the Weight of the World Crisis

QUESTION

Now the world is full of fear, uncertainty, hatred, rage, grief and agony. I feel traumatized, but my thoughts are not on my personal traumas. The overwhelming pain that I feel seems to be the pain of the entire world. Many times I feel like I need to scream with all my might until my voice is gone and my body collapses, unable to move. Read more

Healing Trauma with Breathwork: Abortion and Open Heart Surgery

This story was written by one of my clients who chose to remain anonymous. I’ll call her Sally.

Sally was a smart business leader whom people respected. She felt confident at work, but she had trouble forming fulfilling friendships. She felt empty inside.

When Sally began the Deep Emotional Healing Retreat, she had no idea that her difficulty was rooted in unresolved trauma. This story illustrates how quickly transformation can occur when we do body-based emotional-spiritual healing.

Breathwork accesses unconscious memories that rarely surface in talk therapy. That’s why breathwork is such a powerful therapeutic tool.

Here’s Sally’s story.

For a long time, I had been living in my head and keeping my distance from people. I wanted to get in touch with my spiritual heart. My objectives for the Deep Emotional Healing retreat were to make a deeper connection with myself and others.

During the first breathwork session, I experienced pain and a tight knot in my pelvic area. It was so painful that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Benita placed her hand on the spot, applied pressure and coached me to breathe through the pain.

I realized that I was angry and agitated. The experience reminded me of the time when I was 20 when my ex-husband forced me to have an abortion against my will.

I experienced great pain, guilt and grief from this experience. I am very angry with myself for allowing someone to have such control over me.

Benita and I decided to have another healing session the second day of the retreat. This is what I experienced during the next breathwork healing session.

We said prayers, played music and everyone sat close to me for support. I started breathing deeply and I felt the painful knot in my stomach. My body started contorting and I had to sit up. People laid their hands on me for support.

I spontaneously shouted, “No, No, No! Leave Me Alone!” And then after a few minutes I screamed, “Help Me, Help Me!” I repeated these words over and over, feeling them deeply. This went on for a long time. Finally, I laid back down and I felt very calm and peaceful.

Benita asked me questions about what happened. I said that I had wanted my daughter here with me in the physical plane. I always knew that this child was a girl. I felt like I was talking to my daughter on a spiritual plane. She explained that she knew that this pregnancy would not reach term, and that we were not going to be together on the physical plane. She said that she is always very close to me and does not blame me in any way. I felt very calm and peaceful after this experience.

I had more insights about this experience during the following week. The feelings, sensations and words that I spoke during the healing session reminded me of another traumatic time in my life.

When I was eight years old, I had open-heart surgery and was in the hospital for several months. It was a terrifying experience. To make matters worse, I was in a training hospital so each morning 10-12 doctors would come into my room. They asked me questions and took blood. I was under an oxygen tent and I would crawl up into the tent and tuck the corners under me. I screamed at them to go away and leave me alone.

It was a very scary feeling of helplessness. It took many years to be able to go to the doctor and get a shot or have them take blood without getting scared and crying.

During the breathwork session, I was curled up like I was in the oxygen tent. I screamed at them to leave me alone. I begged for help like I tried to do when I was eight.

During both of these experiences, I felt great helplessness like I had no control over what was happening to me. But with Benita’s support and the help of the group, I was able to fully process the painful experiences and sensations. I was able to breathe through them and then my body finally released them.

Immediately after the breathwork sessions and now a week later, the physical and emotional pain of these two traumatic experiences no longer haunts me.

I feel a kind of inner peace that I’ve never known before.

* * *

If you’d like to experience deep emotional healing, contact Benita A. Esposito for a complimentary 10-minute phone interview to see if her life coaching and spiritual counseling is a good fit for you.

You can experience more rapid healing in the following retreats: highly sensitive person retreats, breathwork retreats and deep emotional healing retreats.

View the Retreat Schedule: click here.

Benita A. Esposito, MA. credentials.

Offices in Atlanta (Sandy Springs) and Blairsville, Georgia, USA

Distance counseling and spiritual healing is available via phone and Zoom videoconference from the comfort of your own home.

Book Introduction. The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert

Wisdom for Emotional Healing and
Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self

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“The hardest battle you are ever going to have to fight is the battle to be just you.”
–Leo F. Buscaglia

This book will appeal to all highly sensitive people, but if you are a smart sensitive introvert who has struggled with anxiety, depression, trauma or relationships, you’ll especially relate to my memoir and teaching stories about the Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self. Read more

The Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self ~ Overview

The thought of showing up as our Authentic Selves can be exciting and scary. It requires us to take risks, and sometimes we don’t know the outcome before we take the journey … but some of us feel compelled to embark on the journey anyway … like being drawn to the beacon of a lighthouse.

When we consider taking the risks to show up as our Authentic Selves, we ask:

Will my marriage weather the transition? Will my employer promote me or fire me? Will my family and friends embrace me or ostracize me? Will I like my Authentic Self?

We can’t know how things will turn out before we jump off the proverbial cliff.

In Star Wars, our Heroes begin their journey without guarantees. But they have hope and conviction so they risk the journey. They commit to playing their part to unfold the future. And we pray the Force is with them.

If we don’t show up as our Authentic Selves, our loving relationships are never fulfilling because our true selves are hiding behind masks. People can’t really reach us and we can’t reach them.

We’re busy managing people’s impressions of ourselves … we’re looking good, trying hard to please others … hoping they’ll love us the way we want to be loved. Or we’re withdrawing to protect ourselves, or we’re fighting with our loved ones.

That’s called manipulation, not love.

If we don’t show up as our Authentic Selves, our work is never fulfilling because our true selves are hiding behind masks. Even if we get promoted because we are smart and conscientious, we’ll still be unhappy because we’re not tapped into our sweet spot, shining from our God-given blueprint. Without the passion of being fully alive, we feel drained, depressed or anxious.

For those of us who choose to embark on the Hero’s Journey, there is a part of us who is afraid to fully show up. And there’s a part who feels compelled to excavate and express our Authentic Self.

We don’t have to get rid of the fear to proceed. We take it with us, like a parent holding the hand of a scared child. I supplement the “parent” part of you until you get strong enough to manage fear on your own.

Sensitive Introverts want to be loved and respected for who we truly are. We want genuine emotional connection. We want to express our unique voices. We yearn to share our special gifts with the world. We feel bad when we hold ourselves back.

Here’s the good news!

When we take a stand to show up as our Authentic Selves, then we will find the people who truly support us.

Or our current relationships will evolve along with us.

Some people may fall away. In the beginning of the journey, it’s hard to let go of people we’ve been attached to. But we have to do what a caterpillar has to do: let go so we can transform into a butterfly.

I’ll help you develop the skills to say good-bye to the parts of your old life that no longer serve you so you can say hello to your Authentic Self and the new nurturing relationships that will arrive. The Force is directing your feet.

We need to turn toward people who will support us, instead of clinging to people who don’t choose to connect with us in healthy ways.

“You would do well to spend quality time with those whose generosity of spirit waters your emotional garden. Remember that you deserve to receive this kind of nourishment.” ~author unknown

We need to stop fighting with people, trying to get them to change. We need to stop manipulating ourselves and other people.

We need to develop the courage and skills to communicate honestly and tactfully, sharing from the innermost chambers of our tender hearts. We need to take responsibility for kindly expressing what we most yearn for instead of just complaining or keeping quiet. We must respect others’ choice to say a loving “yes” to our requests, or accept their “no.”  We need to learn to create win-win solutions that enrich emotional intimacy.

I call this self-respect and respect for others.

We must challenge the idea that being true to ourselves is selfish. Many of us grew up with the idea that it is bad to be self-centered … to think about ourselves … as if we couldn’t think about ourselves and be kind to others at the same time.

Some people will understand us and like us; some people won’t. When we define our true North, and summon the courage to be real, we glisten like a diamond, just as God intended.

When we pay more attention to our divine blueprint than to the opinions of others, only then will we experience true fulfillment.

One of the main reasons Sensitive Introverts don’t experience the fulfillment that comes from being true to their Authentic Selves is that they avoid the pain of the Hero’s Journey. I’m not sugar-coating this. It’s not for the weak of heart. It can be very difficult. But I’ve gone ahead of you, clearing a path in the wilderness so your journey can be easier.

I’m standing here with the roadmap to show you the most efficient path so you are more likely to reach your destination, with fewer scars and injuries.

And you’ll experience a lot more joy along the way! Yep, we’ll be laughing, too.

The Old Paradigm
When we’ve been hurt, and we suppress or repress our vulnerable emotions, we get stuck. Frozen in time. We put on a mask, protecting our soft under-belly from being hurt. Turtles have shells for a reason. We hide our innermost selves when we don’t feel safe.

Maybe we feel safe in our turtle shell, but we can’t truly flourish.

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are made for. ~John Augustus Shedd (1859 – 1928)

We may try hard to be successful in ways defined by the world. But our relationship with our Authentic Self, with our body, with God, and with others becomes compromised. This separation creates dis-ease and unrest on many levels.

When we’re feeling upbeat, positive and happy, everything’s great. But inevitably the pendulum will swing, and we’ll feel bad again. Suffering will capture us in his grip, like a dragon flying away with his prey.

We’ve been taught that we should be positive. There’s something wrong with us if we’re feeling negative.

The notion that some emotions are good and some are bad is a form of conditional love for ourselves. It keeps us stuck in a vicious cycle. The pendulum swings from good to bad and back again, over and over. We don’t feel a solid sense of our wholeness when we live in this swinging paradigm.

When we pray for healing and it doesn’t happen, it might be because we’re caught in this old paradigm.

The New Paradigm
Contrary to popular opinion, fear, anger, or anguish are not the problem. Emotions are not our enemies and we do not have to get rid of them or release them.

We need to accept difficult emotions as part of our human experience and learn how to stay fully present in our bodies, and connected spiritually. This is easier said than done. I know.

The ability to stay present in ourselves, and love ourselves … no matter what … in joy and sorrow … this is the key that unlocks the door. Then we’ll be able to love others in more purity. And we’ll be able to receive love.

As we open up more and more, we can feel the immense love of God that has always been there for us but we just couldn’t feel it. Then we can cultivate deep emotional intimacy that is truly satisfying.

Don’t implode into depression or explode in anger. Just stay present and feel and breathe.

For those of us beginning the Hero’s Journey, we need an expert guide by our side, because if we don’t have this kind of support, we probably won’t be able to stay fully present in the midst of intense emotion and doubt.

Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and R2D2.

Dorothy in the wizard of Oz had Glenda.

You should have wise guidance, too.

As we develop the ability to stay fully present, we’re able to sense our true identity. Our spirit … our Authentic Self … the one who is whole … who always has been whole … in communion with God’s immense love, wisdom and power … whether we’re feeling happy or sad … whether people adore us or hate us.

We can learn to remain stable in the eye of the storm.

Spiritual and emotional intimacy is the ultimate fulfillment for a highly sensitive introvert. It opens the door to pure service.

The Hero’s Journey is always evolving to the next level of mastery. One door opens to another and another. There’s always more wisdom to experience as our vision becomes clearer.

Photo by Benita A Esposito

The more healing we do, the more we are able to experience sweet intimacy with God and others.

The clouds evaporate and the sun naturally shines.

Health and vitality flow. Relationships flourish. Self-esteem rises.

On Your Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self, you’ll …

• Clarify your core values and develop skills to craft the most meaningful life possible for you.
• Explore the limiting beliefs that have been holding you back.
• Learn why thinking positively doesn’t transform entrenched coping patterns.
• Examine childhood core decisions that have unconsciously thwarted your success.
• Transform difficult emotional experiences that have shaped your life.
• Increase the courage to show up as your Authentic Self, and share your most precious gifts.

Topics include, but are not limited to the following:

• Increase self-confidence, self-esteem, self-love.
• Create healthy relationships.
• Improve communication skills
• Be assertive, instead of non-assertive or aggressive.
• Deepen your emotional healing.
• Decrease emotional reactivity.
• Enjoy sweeter spiritual intimacy.
• Heal family of origin wounds.
• Achieve work-life balance.
• Improve self-care and overall health.

Photo by Benita A Esposito

Conclusion: Why take the journey to the Authentic Self?

You will learn how to remain calm in the peaceful eye of the hurricane while the winds whip all around you. Instead of shrinking back from your fears, you will find your way through the storm, and flourish in the freedom of pure love. When you develop the ability to feel your emotions while staying grounded in your body, you’ll experience an incredible freedom and peace, even in the midst of chaos. You’ll create less chaos in your life. You’ll connect with your Authentic Self and God. You’ll feel so much more whole.

Ready to get started on your Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self?

Contact me for a complementary 10-minute phone interview.

Click here for credentials: Benita A. Esposito

Your Authentic Life. Anything Else is a Compromise.