Indigo's Peer Journal Exercises- Exercise #2
Mapping Your Fears
There are always little fears in our lives. Sometimes there are big fears, too- and with good reason. This exercise can help to pinpoint fear and panic triggers, so you can design or learn coping skills for fear and panic attacks. It is also the basis for several other exercises, including a much more in-depth exercise, one related specifically to fear of intimate contact or panic during sexual activity. If anyone is in a hurry for that, please email me right away- I'll be happy to dash it off ASAP. Otherwise, it's about 10 or so exercises away : ).
The reason for the similarity of this and a few of the other exercises is that there are often connections to how we deal with fear, pain, and panic in different aspects of our lives. Learning to identify what causes the panic, and designing a coping skill that is useful in coping with that, can often overflow to those other areas where (and when) panic is possible. It's kind of like riding a bike- once you get the hang of it, you keep that skill forever. But first you have to know what kind of situations cause the reactions you want to eliminate, which is what you'll be looking for here.
You can do this in your journal or on a seperate piece of paper.
Here's how it works:
Again, complete honesty with yourself is essential.
Examine all of the fears in your life- past and present, abuse-related or not. List up to ten things (more, if you feel like it) which have caused you fear. Rate the intensity of the fear, from 1 to 5, using the scale below:
Then do two things:
1. Look for common themes (i.e.- fear of spiders, beetles, and moths would all equate to a fear of bugs, basically)
2. Try to discover what impact each fear has had on your life. Did they keep you from going places or doing things? Did you avoid certain areas of your home because of them? Did they cause you to fail to learn new skills or ways of managing your life?
Write this on your paper or in your journal next to the fear and it's rating.
Here's what you get from this:
Besides the obvious recognition of potential triggers and causes of distress, you get to know yourself better- how you "might" react to a similar situation, what you might think about or feel if the same sensations or sights or sounds overcome you again.
By the end of this exercise, you also have the added advantage of being able to distinguish very traumatic from slightly panicky, so you aren't swept away on a tidal wave of panic, if one should start.
The next obvious thing is to plan a course of action in case this happens. That's another exercise, though.
© Copyright Indigo 1998