How do we move from fear to joy? With so much happening in our world, navigating our inner emotional landscape is a vital skill. Thankfully, the flow of the seasons, as well as the nervous system Polyvagal Theory, map a clear pathway: to move out of the wintry freeze of fear, we must spring into action and reach for the warm summery expansion of joy.
FIRST, we become aware of our fear and then acknowledge it. When I notice that some part of me is feeling frightened, I may speak to it and say: “I see you. I see that you’re scared, that you’re feeling paralyzed and tense. I also see how hard it is for you to experience all of this fear.”
This warm expression of compassion begins to melt away the freeze in the body and, along with it, the feelings of being alone and separate. It’s both helpful in the moment, and also creates an opening for an ongoing dialogue with fear. One of the best questions to ask is, “What do you need?”
SECOND, when fear engages our autonomic nervous system’s freeze response, we need to spring into action in order to reach joy. Unfortunately, we've all seen adaptive yet unhealthy examples of springing into action which have dampened our instinct to do so. Just in the last month, we’ve witnessed Russia’s war charge on the Ukraine and Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.
But springing into action does not necessitate violence. It does, however, require movement -- the hallmark of spring. It might be moving the head from side to side, deepening the breath, or gently stretching the body. Perhaps it’s what fear has told you it needs, like a hug, a slow walk outside, or a little dance to a favorite song.
THIRD, we pull the specific resources that make us feel safe and supported close, like phoning a friend or relative, journaling, or reconnecting with nature in some way. This stretches our ventral vagal capacity, the aspect of the nervous system that enables us to respond from a calm and centered place. Joy may show up subtly at first, like a softening or a warming, and will keep expanding as we return again and again to heartfelt connection.
May you befriend fear, spring into action, and experience the joy of being,
P.S. Any one of these stages may require more attention, practice, and support. Check out the new series for regulating your nervous system @ https://bit.ly/35aVFpv or book a free call to learn more @ shiraozsinai.com/strategy-session.
I am an acupressurist, educator, and practitioner of complementary medicine. My background in literature, teaching, and Yoga Nidra informs my wellness practice. My approach is personalized and holistic, tailored to each individual's unique needs and goals.