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How to overcome your fears with Lindsey Kingsley MA LPC

Laurie Yinko Groh talks with Lindsey Kingsley MA LPC about facing your fears. If your anxiety is getting in the way of finding joy and enjoying your life, take the steps to get relief. Now is the best time to tackle your anxiety. Anxiety gets worse over time, it typically does not get better without treatment. Lindsey answers these important questions:

  1. What is the emotion of fear?
  2. How do fears manifest themselves?
  3. What is a panic attack?
  4. Why are my fears in some situations stronger than others?
  5. How do I know if I need help?
  6. What are some ways I can hardness my anxiety?

Video Transcript

Laurie: My name is Laurie Groh. I'm co-owner at Shoreside Therapies. Today we have Lindsey Kingsley again and today we're going to talk about fear. Thanks Lindsey for coming.

Lindsey: Thanks for having me! Yeah. So for those that don't know, too, since I'm newer to Shoreside Therapies, but I'm not a new therapist, I actually specialize in anxiety and OCD, so fear is like an underlying passion of mine, because it's at the heart of anxiety and OCD, and so I figured we could kind of break it down today and understand it a little bit better and for those that haven't done therapy before can understand it a little bit more too.

Laurie Groh: Thank you. This is a topic I love to learn more and more about, so I'm excited to hear what you have to say today. So let's start with the first question, which is: what is the emotion of fear?

Lindsey Kingsley: Yes, yeah, so fear is the emotion, if anyone has ever seen Inside Out, the guy, it's really funny. He always runs around like there's going to be a catastrophe!', and so that's what I think of fears. So it's just a natural response in our body that helps us alert to danger or threat. But a lot of times people have it where it's out of proportion to an event. So I just think of like you know, if there's a bear in the woods we run right, it tells us what to do and how to respond. But oftentimes we have bit too much of it and that's where it can come and be problematic. Fears, you know, tend to generalize themselves too. That's where they become problematic. It's kind of, I think of, like spilled water and it kind of goes everywhere in our lives. And so that's where it can be a struggle. And I think of you know if you're scared of bears, then you might be scared of cayotes or moose or you know any like live animal then, and it can be hard then to manage. So generally people think of like common phobias when they think of fear. So things like spiders, going to the doctors and getting blood drawn like a needle, dogs or heights, and those are really common. Those are natural responses to have. So when we talk about it in the realm of mental health, fear is an underlying emotion to anxiety and OCD, so it's important to know you know your triggers, what happens with fear and just how to manage.

Laurie Groh: So, with fear, that's that underlying emotion that does tend to show up in mental health disorders, and so we're going to go a little bit further into that today. All right, so how do fears manifest themselves?

Lindsey Kingsley: Yeah, so usually it gets triggered within the body or you know, I think of like scanning your environment. You might see a threat. If you have social anxiety, it might be seeing people and your body has a response. So generally people can start noticing, I might feel tension or tightness of my body, I might feel like racing heart, might start ventilating, kind of like rapid breathing, sometimes even just trembling, shaking, I think of you know interviews that i've had and your hand shaking, or just becoming frozen. Sometimes you get a loss of words. I think of giving a speech or something you might just be like, forgot what I'm saying, or a presentation. So all of those things can be indicators that we might be having a fear response. Yeah, and it can be really extreme sometimes. So we'll talk about like you know what panic attacks are and sometimes fear left unmanaged can turn to panic attacks which are really scary if someone's ever had them before.

Laurie Groh: Right, right, yeah, Lindsey, I remember taking an exam in college and having something like that occur where all of a sudden I blacked out. I couldn't remember anything that was going to be on the exam and it was a very bizarre experience and its based on fear. Right, that instant kicks in and then we don't have to think when we're in a fear space right, we're supposed to move or freeze or hide or something, not finish an exam. So that took a minute, definitely took a minute for me to get back to where I needed to go.

Lindsey Kingsley: Yeah, you can be at a loss for words sometimes.

Laurie Groh: Alright. So, what is a panic attack?

Lindsey Kingsley: So the reason why I bring this up is because I've had many people that don't understand, sometimes fear and that they've had a panic attack. If you've never had a panic attack, it's really scary and people you know can mimic like a heart attack. When I worked intake in a hospital we get people going into the thinking. You know they had a heart attack or you know, a stroke or something like that, and truly it's their body physiologically like responding to danger, panic or being overwhelmed and so left unmanaged, it can turn to a panic attack, which is just that short duration of intense symptoms that flood your body. So it's when you feel overwhelmed mentally, physically and people who have panic attacks recognize that they can't breathe. It kind of feels like suffocating or the walls are closing in, feels like you might die and so you're completely, you feel completely out of control of your body and that usually exasperates the symptoms causing more, you know like shakiness, not being able to breathe and so being able to, you know, it's really helpful to start understanding like oh, I've had those before right and then knowing kind of what to do like. So working on therapy, can come in, working on, you know grounding scales, mindfulness, being able to manage, you know, understanding triggers and other things. So they're quite common for people who struggle with anxiety disorders, and so you know, knowing them and knowing how to manage can just bring about more confidence.

Laurie Groh: Right, yeah, because it goes in this cycle, right, where you're feeling all these intense feelings. It's really scary. You're right, like anyone that's ever experienced, it will say it's maybe the scariest thing they've been through and they don't want to have it again. And so that can sometimes bring up the actual anxiety and panic attack because of the anxiety about having that panic attack.

Lindsey Kingsley: Just think of with COVID, you know, and the pandemic, like a lot of fears right, there's a lot of things that we're being told to avoid and you know then, when it happens or things like that, it can just be really really overwhelming.

Laurie Groh: All right, so why are my fears in some situations stranger? I'm sorry, stronger, I need my glasses, stronger than others. So, why would that be?

Lindsey Kingsley: Yeah, so I get that question a lot, especially with like OCD, and when people have different, like compulsions and that they're like you know, but it's really sometimes centralized to one thing. But people then go like: is it different with the treatment? You know having different fears, and so we always say like, it can have a different theme of what we are fearful of. But usually the treatment is generally the same. So when we know that fear attaches to our values and the things that we care about, that is, when things like your family or fear of your family dying, things like that, they attach themselves. Fears. I think of little people or something like we attach ourselves, to things that we care about. So I'm going to throw a little Sci-Fi fact in here, I like to watch Stranger Things and so if anyone's watched, it is really popular right now, on Netflix, they have the Demogorgon right now it's like the spider monster and things like that. I think of that with fear and anxiety, because it just attaches to everything that's around you, and so that's where it becomes generalized. People say it's attached to something that I'm close to. I'm scared that something is going to happen or I'm worried about something, examples of, like, moms with new babies. You know we have this response where we need to protect and keep this little child safe and they're outside. You know in the world it's really scary and so moms suffer with like intrusive thoughts, and you know, fear then drop my baby or something bad is going to happen to my baby. And so it's normal to have those fears and normal that those things might attach to things that you care about more than other things, and so it can be confusing. I think of like a big project at school or something, situations often that have a lot of pressure or putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, or fear of rejection, say, from a partner or being liked or accepted. Those things or worries, are going to be a little bit stronger in those situations.

Laurie Groh: Yeah, it makes so much sense that it pools towards those things that we care most about. You know how you talked about water at the beginning and kind of pouring over everything, and then it goes to the things that matter most usually, right. I definitely remember that with my little ones, when they were babies like that, fear of, are they going to stop breathing in the middle of the night? And that can be pretty intense, you know, and hard to move through, of like, well you can't... can't sit there the whole night, you know, and listen. Yeah, there's a point where you have to move away from it and figure out what's the plan. How do I let go of some of these fears?

Lindsey Kingsley: Yeah, exactly!

Laurie Groh: All right, so how do I know if I need help? So I was just talking about that fear right of of you know, when my little ones were babies and waiting for them to breathe and wondering and in the middle of the night, maybe checking on them. How do you know when that's getting so bad that you might need help?

Lindsey Kingsley: Yeah, and you know a question that we get all the time with. You know people who have never gone to therapy and I would say any time you want it's too much and you want to change or its interfering with your life or you're not happy or you're struggling to get through the day without anxiety, and it's just kind of taken over my entire life. Any time it's life interfering is time that we can get help in therapy. You know it's getting in the way of work, forming relationships, making friends. I think now with going places we might have a lot of fear around going places, calling people. I always say the sooner the better getting into therapy, because that's one of those things, anxiety can generalize very quickly. I've seen people that we're able to do, you know, functioning at their highest level, doing, executive type jobs and just being paralyzed when we left it untreated, because we've become in a bubble. We're not able to leave the home. We've just let those fears become exasperated. So I think any time where your life is having a negative impact, that's a good time. So it's just for yourself, it's recognizing like it's a lot. I need some tools and need some help or some assistance. Don't hesitate. You know that 50 minute phone call. We can just decide if it's something that you need or not, and we can help in that way.

Laurie Groh: Right right! I think that part is so important too that it does tend to get worse, because our natural instinct is to avoid those things. So then that monster gets bigger and bigger and bigger typically, and starts to spread on more things. So that does make sense of the sooner the better, and you're right too: whenever that person wants to get in, get in.

Lindsey Kingsley: Yeah, absolutely!

Laurie Groh: There's no real rules like you can't come to therapy if it's only at this level. You can come at any time.

Lindsey Kingsley: Good point.

Laurie Groh: Alright, so what are some ways that I can harness my anxiety? I love this question.

Lindsey Kingsley: Right, yes! Approachable things. So number one seek support. I think especially, I work a lot with young moms, things like that, and a lot is like, we often wait thinking It'll get better. So seek support. Maybe if it's not therapy it's friends, talk about what's going on, sometimes with any emotion. Just talking about things can be helpful. So you know just learning new ways to deal with it. Obviously number one: seeking out a trained therapist that does this stuff all the time and can help you kind of fill your toolbox with things, and maybe this is something we haven't tried before. Learn about your trigger, so triggers are just basically, people, places, things that cause anxiety, and my favorite is: avoid avoiding. So you know, like we talked about, it does tend to cycle. So while avoidance is a natural response when we're feeling anxious, Avoidance does make it worse and make that cycle bigger, and your anxiety become stronger and stronger. It's like feeding the beast, and so I like. We always like the phrase Nike. So you know, if we can't do it, whatever the activity is, we always say: just do it, just do the thing that you are scared of, and I know that is simple and when it's out of control it's not that easy. So that therapist can help you create a hierarchy, doing exposures, working to decrease avoidance and, you know, reduce rituals, things like that and learn. So we say, kind of lean into anxiety again. Our natural response is to pull away. I don't like this feeling I don't want to do this, you know, so we kind of just like go in the background, so we always say lean in. The reason why is you can't really go around feelings so they're going to pop-up in other ways in your life. It's kind of like that whack-a-mole game. Once you get one down, another one comes up in a different area. So when we say lean into it we mean, like you know, breathing into, it's anxiety, it's feeling, it's normal, and you know, working on ways and therapists can help kind of coach you with that and then practicing relaxation skills. So you know, I think people are like, well, I've tried breathing and I'm like you know, it's definitely a practice we have to do that over and over again, and so relaxations, motions are stored in the body. Help with that fight or flight response. So if you reduce that fight or flight response, you're going to feel more confident in being able to manage. My favorite: talking back to your internal voice. So, you know if you're saying this presentation is going to go so bad, you know, no, it's not. Maybe I might do really well this time. So that's just kind of like we all have this internal dialogue and being able to put a name or face to your anxiety so that you're able to kind of talk back to it in that way.

Laurie Groh: Yeah! I love that. That, like, no, it's going to go, it's going to go fine or it's not a yes or no. You know, it's not good or bad. It could be 90% good or 90% bad, but I think sometimes having that percentage makes a difference.

Lindsey Kingsley: Yeah! And the last one could be keep a daily thought record. So if you do start therapy sometimes that's what we encourage. Just like to keep you know keep track of what your thoughts are, what your triggers are, because we can't really start working on something until we know about like what is it? How much is it happening? Is it happening a lot and I think especially I've had people kind of minimize their anxiety like it's not bad. But then you see them and they're like flooded with anxiety and their face and body. And so you know it's knowing that, getting to build awareness and insight in therapy. All of that can be really helpful.

Laurie Groh: Yeah, I think having that, that record and having the data can be really helpful to make sure that you're improving and where you're improving and what's actually going on. So I love that one as well. So thanks, Lindsey!

Lindsey Kingsley: Of course, yeah, so you know anyone can reach out. Like I said, it's my specialty. You know I'm comfortable with all those things and yeah, I'm happy to share.

Laurie Groh: Awesome, well thanks for talking with me today and we'll talk soon. And if anyone wants to reach out to Lindsey, you can go to our site at www.shoresidetherapies.com and you can schedule right online, free phone consult, or video consult, and then you can also schedule right online.

Lindsey Kingsley: Thank you!

Laurie Groh: Thanks! Bye.

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