This is a change for me. It’s not that I don’t sometimes find my thoughts spinning me around in worst case scenarios. I do worry sometimes, though it seems less and less over time. However, I have never recommended actually trying to imagine and think out all the ways that things could go wrong.
I started this blog by writing about people’s fear of needles. If you want to read how I normally address people’s fear of needles, read here. But then thought that fear stops so many other things as well. Fear stops many from stepping onto the paths that would bring them greater happiness, health, wisdom, or other positive trait. Fear leaves people wondering “what if”. Fear freezes people. So, fear needs to be addressed on its own, not just in relation to needles.
I usually think that fear can be overcome by looking toward the positive. If I am afraid of flying, but really want to visit Japan (my husband’s situation), then the positive of travel experiences can drive me to get on a plane regardless of my fear.
What I find happens more often is a choice between a lesser of two evils. People come in for acupuncture despite their fear of needles because something that they are experiencing now is worse than the worst they can imagine acupuncture will deliver. Physical pain or discomfort or emotional turmoil are strong incentives to push ones’ boundaries.
A third way of thinking about how to move past fear is something that I have never done myself: Planned Pessimism. Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek” and “The 4-Hour Body” discussed this.
The basics of Planned Pessimism are:
1. Write down worst case scenarios
2. In a column next to each of those situations, write out what you can do to resolve or avoid those possibilities.
If you have a fear of needles.
|Worst Case Scenario||Resolve or Avoid|
|It will hurt||Tell Acupuncturist to stop if it does hurt.Breathe through thoughts about discomfort.Tell Acupuncturist that I’m concerned about how it will feel.Ask for smallest needles.Note: Acupuncture is not painful.|
|I may get an infection from the needle||Make sure that Acupuncturist is using sterile disposable needles, one-time-use.|
|I may get injured||Choose a qualified professional. Acupuncture training varies in different provinces and states, but if there is a licensing board, make sure that Acupuncturist is registered and licensed. (In British Columbia this requires a minimum of 1900-3250 hours of acupuncture study, including 450-1050 hours of practicum training, as well as completing written and practical licensing examinations and ongoing continuing education)Tell Acupuncturist about your concerns so they can explain what they are doing.|
|I don’t like needles of any kind||Don’t watch. Close my eyes. Breathe.Don’t think of them as needles. They don’t feel like needles.Daydream about something else during treatment. Use distraction.|
I’m still not sure that planned pessimism is the best way for me to get through any fears or worries, but if you have trouble finding that silver lining or looking at the bright side of things or perceiving the glass as half full, this may be another way to move forward.
As Yoda said: “Named must be your fear before vanish it you can”.