Imagine your body and mind as an operating system. Your brain is the central hub that controls how your body reacts and what chemicals are released in response to your commands.
So, when you feel fear, your body prepares for a potential attack by going into "fight or flight" mode. Your heart rate will increase, your pupils will dilate, cortisol will be released, and your muscles will tense. The brain is responsible for this reaction.
Consider a situation in which you were in an abusive relationship and knew that every time a beer can was opened, your partner was about to get drunk and a heated argument would ensue.
Even when the relationship has ended and there is no need to be scared when you hear the opening of a beer can. The body and mind are incapable of distinguishing between the past, present, and future. So when you hear the crack of the can opening, your mind will run the program of fear and you will be set off in a flight or fight response.
These programs continue to run even when they are obsolete, and the only way to stop them is to reprogram or delete them.
You may also have programs which immediately induce a relaxed or restful state. As your heart rate drops and your breathing slows down, you feel a sense of calm sweep through your body.
Perhaps you recall fondly family trips to the beach when you were young. The feeling of water washing over your skin with each wave that crashes. There is something familiar about the coconut-scented sunscreen your mother slathered on your skin.
So now just a whiff of coconut will bring you back to that memory and activate the relaxation mechanism in your body.
It is important for you to be aware of and store these programs for future reference.
Let us return to the old running programs. You must be hyper aware of what has just occurred before an emotion is triggered. It is clearly not possible to do this during an anxiety attack or moment of fear. The best thing to do in this situation is to be present in the moment and then journal afterwards. Write what you can remember happening prior to your reaction. Were you listening to the sound of a beer can opening when the reaction occurred? Identify and re-associate that action, smell, sound, taste, and vision with a new thought.
Let us continue to use the can opening as an example. Try to picture another image that matches the opening of a can, such as the sound of a fresh cool drink on the beach or the sound of Friday evenings spent by the barbecue.
The reprogramming process takes a while, so continue doing this until it is replaced with something that either puts you in a neutral state or allows you to relax.
Remember that you believe what you tell yourself, so tailor your programming accordingly.