August 31st, 2016. I remember that day as my mother received a call from the hospital: she was told my brother was involved in an incident and that he was in a critical condition.
Pause. I don't want to elaborate on what happened to him yet but for those who personally know me, here are two hints: it happened four years ago and this event is what made me fall into a deep depression.
Anyways. My mother cried, went to the hospital then improvised a prayer session in the household, with my relatives.
I remember that night. It was full of pail and confusion. The atmosphere just was not right.
I also remember not getting overwhelmed by the situation, even if it was about my younger brother, who I used to have a fusional bond with.
At that point, we knew nothing. We didn't know what happened, what the circumstances were, how bad his injury was...
The picture was blurred and I was not going to cry for no reason. Don't get it twisted, I love my brother even though he pisses me off most the time. But honestly, I am not a crier. Well, this is a least what I have been trying to convince myself of, all these years.
This is how I was raised: "Don't cry. Hold it." Otherwise, I would be given a "real reason" to... Don't pretend not to know what I mean, I know you got disciplined the hard way by your parents too.
On a serious note, I don't like to cry. I look pretty ugly when I do and the headache that follows never goes away fast enough. Plus, if I start crying for a thing, I recall all the things that went wrong in my life and start tearing up about them as well. This is an endless cycle.
I am not a robot. I feel things, I even feel too much (yeah, I used to have empath tendencies). I somehow persuaded myself that holding my tears could protection my mental health, as I would force myself to stay strong regardless of the circumstances. I am a cancer so I have to find balance for my sensitivity, emotions, vulnerability and this is how I put up with it. Besides, not crying at all can also be bad but we will discuss it in another article.
When my mother got that phone call, I was not expecting her to cry: she is the one who taught me to be stone cold. I guess things are different when your child's life is on the line.
When he was brought to the hospital, my brother immediately got into surgery as he had lost a lot of blood and he could have ended up with a physical handicap.
My relatives being in tears, I could not join them in crying. We never were a family that cries together and I was not going to let that start on that day. We are pretty bad when it comes to deal with feelings and emotions.
I got in the safest place I could find: my bed and I did something that made realize how much of a grown-up I was... I prayed.
I understood that the situation was totally out of my control and that there was nothing I could do but to pray. Pray for my brother's life to be saved, pray for the surgeons who were operating him, pray for his quick recovery and pray for strength to survive to this massive trial as a family. I prayed for blessings. I talked to the only one who truly was in charge in this case, and this person was the Lord.
I had to acknowledge his power over our lives and obviously needed to open my heart to someone. I get really quiet and distant when I am hurt so I had to talk to my loving and caring best friend up there.
And guys, I slept well that night. The surgeons did a tremendous job, my brother made it through (and he is healthy now). This was all that mattered to me.
I was so proud of myself for not getting overtaken by fear and worry. The Holy Spirit really was a Helper in this scenario as If I just used my regular human strength, things would have gone bad quick.
I would have had a panic attack that would have manifested itself through my body shaking due to fear. I would have hyperventilated and probably fainted because of the lack of oxygen. I would have drown in a pool of tears too. I would have been a beautiful mess but God anticipated my distress.
After understanding that a prayer could not only make things work in my favor, make me feel heard and taken care of, I decided to rely on God instead on my own understanding.
I am not saying that I am Jean Sans Peur* either but I am doing way better than I used.
(*NB : This was a French duke literally nicknamed "Fearless John" after winning a battle in the 15th century. And yes, I am dropping French words over here. I am Française so I have sometimes have boujee tendancies. I am playing. But doesn't the sentence sounds super good read out loud?).
I digress. Just to say that I feel fear like everybody else but I no longer let it drive me into its traps. I talked about it on my article named "Fear & Worry Aren't For Me : I've Got God With Me". A must-read.
As for now whenever some challenging stuff comes my way - and since my life is a restless movie, please believe it happens quite often - I use this little technique not to be drained by fear and not to be overwhelmed at all.
Here is my anti-fear, anti-stress technique :
Step 1 : Breathe
I am not a pro when it comes to breathing exercises but I know for a fact they can help when the situation is getting overwhelming.
In fact, learning how to control your breath will help you preventing anticipating panic attacks.
When anxiety kicks in, your heart beats faster and your lungs seem to require more oxygen than usual. Therefore, you do what your body is asking for: getting that fresh air. So you breathe, faster which makes you worry even more about not filling your lungs and passing out as a result.
Just to remember to inhale, and exhale. This is something that we do effortlessly as human beings but trust me, when panic shows up, you forget this basic thing works.
Breathe. Maintain your glance on something in front of you. Start counting and do your best to keep your heartbeat and breathing as normal as possible.
Once you have calmed down or just avoided the panic attack, you can lean towards meditation.
Step 2 : Focus on the facts
Now that your body activity has been regulated, you can keep up with your mind. However, there are rules to the no-fear game.
The goal here is to let yourself think but not about everything. You should ask yourself questions such as : What do I know about the situation? What are the facts, the true, verified and undisputable things that we know about it?
Make a list of those facts, even write them down if you are in the mood. You have to stick to what you know to be exact, not on what your mind is picturing and fearing.
And now I am sorry guys but I have to put it out there as it's been on my mind the whole time I have been writing this article.
"No, no, no,
Stick to the stuff you know,
If you wanna be cool,
Folllow one simple rule,
Don't mess with the flow, no no,
Stick to the status quo."
Yes. High School Musical. The non-millennials might not relate... However, this movie had my siblings, friends and I dancing back in the days. So yeah, High School Musical. But bear with me guys. Let me explain my point.
If you bikram yoga stretch it (I have no idea of what it is, I just heard Kobe Bryant say it in an interview), here is what these words could mean, in a fearful or anxious situation:
"Stick to the stuff you know" : Focus on the facts that you have regarding the situation
"If you wanna be cool, folllow one simple rule" :
Here is what you should do in order to stay chull and not to stress over anything
"Don't mess with the flow, no, no" : Do not disturb your peace of mind by getting sank in the flow of your thoughts
"Stick to the status quo" : Do not let this situation change you and make you fearful
A bikram yoga stretch, but accurate.
Step 3 : Picture the best
One you have kind of shutted down your fears and theirs allies (worry, anxiety), you can let your mind practice its right to imagine.
You have your facts straight and you know what's real, therefore allow yourself to dream. Think about all the things that you want to see happen; think about all the beautiful things that could happen. Think positive. Think about all the stuff that could go; think about miracles.
Make yourself feel better by controlling what you can control and that includes your thoughts.
Picture the best scenarios possible, you have a God who is able.
Step 4 : Pray
Now that you have thought about it, it's time to declare it. I have talked about it a lot on the testimony/super long intro but I have to say it again : prayers change things.
Prayers can hange things and if you notice that things don't change, it's because your prayers changed you.
Speak to God, He is listening. He is waiting for you to interact with Him.
Remember all the events that occured, remember the state and the stakes of your situation, the Lord wants to hear about that. He already knows what you are going through but He still wants you to ask for his help.
Tell Him about what scares you, about what you are afraid could go wrong but also about what you need Him to do for you and your situation (courage, comfort, healing, peace, breakthrough...).
Praying is the occasion for you to completely open up and be candid about your trials and tribulations.
Just believe that God is in control, that God is great and that He makes miracles. And He who is The Creator of everything also is The One who has got your back. It is written :
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28 NIV
So do not let fear, anxiety or worry take away your peace of mind and above all, the confidence you have in God to make things turn into your favor.
Hopefully, my little anti-fear steps can help not to feel too much scared and overwhelmed.
Let me know what works for you in those situations and let me know if my technique gave you results. Stay safe, stay blessed.