Fear is rather sneaky. It can show up internally and externally. It is an emotion that is quite visceral and very debilitating.

Fear is an evolutionary survival instinct – that fight or flight response –  so it will always be a part of our make-up. The magic is learning when to honor it and when to tell it to take a backseat.

What are some specific fears that came up for you when your child came out?

  • What will others think?
  • Are they going to be safe?
  • Will their future be more difficult?

All of the UNKNOWNS??

I started using the phrase “name it to tame it” a few years ago with my kids. I then realized how well it translated to so many aspects of the coming out process – specifically dealing with fear – and began using it in my work.

Think about it – it’s kind of like taking that all important breath when you’re trying to ground yourself or wrap your head around something. When you take the minute to slow down and name the thought or situation that is bringing up the emotion of fear, it immediately brings your heart rate down and clears the racing in your mind enough to allow for a little clarity.

If you google “overcome fear” or “face fear” a million ideas for a multitude of life’s situations will come back, right? I’ve combed through the internet, worked with my therapist, talked with coaches, learned from experts as well as people just like you and me who have learned how to manage and overcome their fears and I have come up with my TOP 5 list of ones that are the most applicable to the coming out process.

How many of you feel more grounded if you have a plan of action? Like, the whole world can be in chaos, but if you have a few go-to practices that work for you and your family, then it is so much easier to face all of the other stuff, right??

Okay, that’s what we’re going to do right now.

One of the things I love about my “Name it to Tame it” Method is that if you can only remember the name, you already have one tool in your pocket!

The goal of “Name it to Tame it” is to shift from having a fear of fear, to recognizing it as a messenger. One of my favorite analogies is from Benadette Logue from the Daily Positive – she writes –

Fear asks you to literally shift externally – meaning – move your body out of danger! The fight or flight response 

OR 

It asks you to shift internally – meaning shifting what you believe and think. It is highlighting a limiting belief or interpretation of reality.

Simply stated:  fear is fuel for your safety or fuel for your personal growth.

Let’s talk about a few ways we can learn to manage fear so that it becomes a tool for positive momentum.

1. Be curious.

One of my favorite quotes is “Be curious, not judgmental” by Walt Whitman. It always reminds me that when I’m curious I cannot be judgmental of myself or of anyone else! Here are a few ways to use curiosity to overcome fear.

a) Define it or articulate it

b) Understand it. Where is the fear coming from? Internal or external experiences? How does it make you feel? How intense is it – does it affect you physically or emotionally or both?

c) Educate yourself. What can you learn about your fear? Is there available information to help you understand it better?

d) Try the fact vs. fiction exercise. This is super helpful as it helps ground you and decide pretty quickly whether the fear is fact – ie a real threat that is actually occurring in the moment OR fiction – ie the idea or possibility of something occurring ie something you have created in your mind. To do this, grab a piece of paper and complete this sentence: What I am specifically fearful of is______________.

Write down what is FACT and only fact.

Now, write down what projections or imagined outcomes you have added to those facts.

Now, write down all of the helpful, accurate, and positive perspectives you could choose in this situation as an alternative.

Pretty cool, right?

* I will not downplay or dismiss the existence of fears based on a threat occurring in the moment when it comes to parenting. We all know that is very real.

AND

* We can also probably agree that many of our other fears are an emotional reaction to the scenarios we play out in our minds – meaning, fear based on something that MIGHT happen

Use this exercise – it helps. Defining, articulating, understanding, and then educating ourselves helps cultivate curiosity.

2. Stop judging yourself.

Cultivate self-awareness. You cannot face your fear or move forward if you are “shoulding,” “blaming,” or “shaming.” Practicing reframing how you see either a specific fear or fear in general. When you take the judgment piece out, you can more easily see fear as information and be able to decide how valuable that information is and what you want to do with it. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses as well as how you like to move through the world allows you to make room for self-compassion. A good disruptor here is – whenever you are throwing “shoulds” at yourself think – “Is this how I would treat the person I love most in the world?”

3. Tools – I love when applicable tools are part of a tips and strategies list!

a) Tapping or the Emotional Freedom Technique

Tapping is a powerful mind/body technique for releasing emotions that aren’t serving you and rewiring your mind. It is very simple to use and easy to learn. There are books and online tutorials, but my favorite is The Tapping Solution (app and website) They literally handhold you, teach the technique, the science behind the technique, and incorporate meditation with the technique as well.

b) Meditation

Meditation allows you to calm all of the noise in your head. Ten minutes a day will make a huge difference. Meditation is about awareness and mindfulness, not clearing all thoughts from your mind. One of my favorite meditation techniques around thoughts is – learn to notice your thoughts like clouds floating in the sky. SO many awesome apps – Calm and Headspace are great places to get started.

c) Affirmations

Fear multiplies and deepens with negative self-talk. Affirmations allow you to strengthen your self-confidence and self-belief. You can literally retrain your mind! I keep them on my bathroom mirror;  make them your screen saver! You can write your own or download your favorites from any mindfulness website or app such as Mindful or I am (my favorite!).

d) Disruptors

I LOVE this one! It is usually easier if someone else is able to spontaneously do this for you, however, here is how to do it for yourself: When in a state of full blown fear, break the pattern your mind and body are frozen in by being BOLD, LOUD, COMICAL, OR SHOCKING. For example, come up with a word or phrase that you can access easily when you are in that fear state. Mine is CANCEL CANCEL ERASE. It’s more of a command, but it works to disrupt fear as well as a negative thought pattern!

4. Breathe

Of course this is one of my strategies! There are three types of helpful breathing for both acute fear and overcoming fear.

a) Deep belly breath – conscious deep breathing

b) Box breathing – 4/4/4/4 (this will calm and ground you)

c) 4-7-8 breathing (this will bring deep relaxation – it is particularly helpful if fear is disrupting your sleep)

5. Ask for help

Seek out experts, join an online community, and find online resources.I could add at least 10 more tips, tools, and strategies to this list which is one more reason why I created my website, my podcast, and now the Fearless Coming Out Membership.

This membership will include a weekly live empower hour where I will walk you through my course, Learning to Just Breathe module by module, Q&A and monthly experts and guests. There will also be a private FB group for members only to share and support one another.

I know you want your child to embrace their sexual orientation or gender identity – to love who they are – to live life as the person they are meant to be in this world.

And, I know YOU want to embrace your child and support them in their process – and you want to show up every day as the best version of yourself.

You have two choices – stay stuck and frozen by fear OR make the decision right now to walk through, overcome, and move forward.

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