What the Dogs in Bali Taught Me About Fear
We all have fears that hold us back, and it can be hard to move past them. We sometimes think we have to wait until the fear goes away before we can take action, but if we do that, we’ll probably never end up getting anywhere. An experience I had here in Bali is a great example of this.
Soon after we paid a month’s rent up front and moved into a little apartment in Ubud, we discovered that there were a ton of dogs on our street. And that a couple of them seemed rather aggressive and would come running and barking every time we walked past.
I haven’t spent a lot of time with dogs, and I’m not really a dog person, but I wouldn’t have ever said I was afraid of dogs until I noticed the visceral reaction I was having to these dogs. Even the thought of having to encounter them would put my stomach in knots and get me feeling anxious. I would tense up every time I came close to their part of the street.
But walking down this street (which is a quiet side street and quite lovely in every other aspect) is the only way to get into town from our place.
What other choice did I have? It would be pretty silly to be in an amazing place like Bali and never leave the house, right?
I needed to find a way to get comfortable with this discomfort, to keep walking despite my fear.
Here are a few of the things that have helped me handle this situation. Give them a try the next time fear threatens to stop you in your tracks.
Do Your Research
Identify what you need to know in order to feel more comfortable with the situation. I realized part of the problem is that I don’t understand dogs and their behavior very well. I read a few articles online that helped explain why dogs bark (and what different types of barks mean), and also gave suggestions on what to do when you encounter an unknown/aggressive dog. As I’m writing this, I’m also thinking spending more time with dogs (instead of ignoring them!) might also help.
Imagine and Prepare for the Worst
Spending too much time imagining worst-case scenarios isn’t very good for your mental health, but giving it a little thought can also make you feel more confident that even the worst case wouldn’t be that bad. In this case, what’s the worst that could happen? The dogs could attack me. My research helped me know what to do if it really did come to that, and I’ve scoped out the area to see where I could most likely get help if I needed it. I now trust that I could handle the situation if the worst did happen, but I also recognize that it is very unlikely these dogs will attack me.
Tap and Visualize
Finding techniques to help you focus on the positive and reduce your fear and anxiety can go a long way. EFT is a great technique for this (check out my friend Claire’s great videos about EFT). One night when I came home feeling particularly shaken, I sat down and did some tapping right away, and it definitely helped reduce my anxiety. I’ve also been focusing on positive affirmations and visualization. I imagine that these dogs are my friends and that they are just running and barking to greet me, and as I walk to/from town I focus on how fabulous the world is and how amazing it is to be here in Bali. This allows me to let a lot of what’s happening around me just roll off my back.
What’s scary the first time will be less scary the next time. You might feel fearful because you don’t know what will happen in a given situation, but once you go through it a few times, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect, and each time will be easier than the last.
Thanks to these simple steps, and my determination to get a handle on the situation, this walk is getting easier every day. Some days the dogs don’t bark at all (see, they’re feeling less afraid too!), and when they do bark, I’m able to brush it off and carry on without getting too anxious.
Can you think of a situation where you had to face your fear and move forward anyway? Where is fear holding you back from living your ideal life?