Neurohacking Everyday Fear
Now that we know a few of the major fear stories that have been sailing our ships thus far, we can start to rewrite and reframe those stories to better serve us. You want to start doing this now and before those fear stories start playing loudly and create a fearstorm.
Out of the three major fear stories you have been telling yourself, which one resonates most when you think about where you’re feeling stuck? Let’s begin with that one.
First, physically write down the fear story you want to start with.
My example: I’m afraid of sounding inadequate/not good enough when I speak
Next, sketch out ideas about where this fear story came from. Can you think of a time, event, or place that you experienced it or was told it? This answer may not come to you right away and you may have more than one event that has fueled this fear story, so just write down all you can about where you think it originated.
Step 3 is all about taking that old story and pulling yourself out of it and putting it into a classis fairytale structure. Beginning with, “Once upon a time” ... and moving on to ... and then what happened... and then what happened... and in the end ______. Turn the “I, me, my” statements into “her/his, she/he, or they” statements.
Here is one example from my life that helped to create my fear of sounding not good enough when I spoke, rewritten in the fairytale structure.
Once upon a time, a little girl named Mary had to have an evil looking dental device placed in the roof of her mouth because she was so tiny there wasn't enough room for all her adult teeth. She loved to laugh and talk and sing. When she got the device, it felt strange at first and she sounded a bit different to her own ears, but she paid it no attention and spent the rest of the day playing in the garden.
When she went to school the next day, something very exciting happened. The class phone rang, and she was the closest to the phone – which meant she got to answer it. Following all the rules the teacher had taught them, she picked up the phone and said, “Hello, this is Miss Jenny’s room, how may I help you?”. Then, suddenly, from across the room, in a loud booming voice, Miss Jenny bellowed out, “Mary, don’t answer the phone, you talk funny”.
The little girl stood frozen, the beige phone with its curling cord in hand, as the entire class turned to stare. Miss Jenny snatched the phone from Mary’s hand and pointed for her to return to her seat. Under the stares and snickers of her classmates, with her head held low, she returned to her seat... Silenced and sad.
In the end, the little girl learned that to use her voice was to receive the wrath of those in charge and the ire of her peers. That day she vowed to never use her voice again.
By rewriting my story into a fairytale, I can more easily feel compassion for the main character (me) and pick out the injustice while imagining what the next chapter will look like when the heroine is victorious.
So, I want you to give this a try using a super stripped-down fairytale structure. Joseph Campbell and Vladimir Propp have both examined fairytale and hero’s journey structure, so if you are interested in exploring this story structure idea more, I would check them out. For now, let’s rewrite our fear origin story with a simple, hero, villain, something desired, and at least one event where the hero is tested, helped, challenged or attacked in some way.
Your fairytale rewrite can be short or long, it is your story, so you get to make it what you want! Just make sure to write it in the third person, using she/he/them pronouns instead of I, me, my. Happy Writing!