Fear of success
Fear of failure
Fear of loss
Fear of being hurt
Fear of being alone
Fear of being unlovable
Fear of not being good enough
I once read (I think it was in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear) that we’ll never be void of fear. At first, I didn’t believe it. Surely there had to be a way to remove fear once and for all. Some rigorous exercise for eradication, perhaps??
I recall a time in my life when I had so many fears that if someone told me to try a Linda Blair style exorcism, I would have.
The reality is, similar to negative thoughts, fear happens. And just like negative thoughts, it’s not the fear that’s the issue. It’s what we do with it or better yet, what we allow it to do with/to us… that’s the real issue.
But my friends, there’s a silver lining in that dark fear cloud. While we may never be void of it, there are definitely things we can do to deal with it, to stand up to it, to move it out of the way, or barrel through it.
SOME COOL FEAR FACTOIDS
I think it was Francis Bacon who once said, “Knowledge is power.” He was right. When it comes to fear, the more knowledge we have the more powerful we become.
Here are a few cool fear factoids we can use to stand up to fear.
Fear doesn’t ever need to in the driver’s seat. We choose to place it there in how we deal or don’t deal with it. For example, engaging with the fear-based narrative and the “what ifs” helps us to energetically “anchor” to the fear. Doing so impacts not just how we feel, but what we see or don’t see.
Fear doesn’t live in the present moment. Nope, it lives in the future and in the past, but mostly in the future. When we’re worrying about the things yet to happen or that may never happen, we’re allowing fear to take us out of the present moment.
When we shine a light on fear it diminishes. I once heard this great analogy that fear is like bacteria. If kept in the dark it will grow and grow, but if we bring it into the light it dies.
Fear serves a purpose. It keeps us safe from harm or toxic situations. It also validates the importance of something in our lives. Say, for example, we have a fear of failing at a job or on a project. That fear is letting us know that whatever we’re doing is important, important enough to not fail.
I apologize for my redundancy, but this is key and worth repeating…it’s not the fear that is our real issue. It’s what we choose to do when the fear appears that can become the issue.
THOSE 5 TESTED STRATEGIES
Sure, we could let fear knock us over, talk us out of going for that promotion, shut us down, or make us run in the opposite direction of something really awesome. OR we could give the following tested strategies a whirl.
(Yep, they’ve been thoroughly tested. I personally use them, and I use them with clients …they’ve got a successful track record.)
STRATEGY #1: Forgetting Everything’s All Right
For the life of me, I can’t remember where I heard that F.E.A.R = Forgetting Everything’s All Right, but I gotta say… when I remind myself that everything really is all right the fear loosens its grip. It then triggers the realization that regardless of what has scared me in the past, I’ve always managed to make it through and come out the other side.
It’s really as simple as saying, “I’m forgetting that everything’s all right.” When you do that, not only does it release fear’s death grip, but it opens you up for ideas and possibilities to present themselves.
STRATEGY #2: Present Moment.
Remember when I shared that fear doesn’t live in the present moment? It’s true. Most of the things we fear are future-based, which causes us to worry about what has yet to happen or may never happen. Viola, we have just been transported from our current time and space to someplace in the future.
Focusing on our breathing is a great way to get present. I like using the technique of taking a longer exhale than I do an inhale. So, if I inhale to a count of 4, I make sure to exhale to a count of 8. This type of breathing calms down the nervous system and lets our brains know that we’re not in any imminent danger. It’s also quick and easy, and can be done anywhere without drawing the attention of passers-by.
Gratitude is also a great way to combat fear and pull ourselves into the present moment. Here’s a little exercise I love to use; scan your surroundings, saying to yourself or out loud something like, “I’m grateful for the carpet under my feet, the light streaming through the window, my comfy chair, etc…”
Since the brain can’t think positive thoughts and negative thoughts at the same time, this little gratitude exercise pushes the fear out of the way and pulls us into the present moment.
STRATEGY #3: Talk It Out
What better way to shine a light on fear and diminish it, then to talk it out with someone we trust? I always find talking about the fear helps me, not only to uncover what it’s trying to tell me, but it’s also empowering to know that I’m not alone.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your fear, I find journaling also helps. Getting the fear out of your head helps you to see it for what it is, which takes a lot of the emotional charge out of it.
STRATEGY #4: “Then What?”
Pick one fear and with that fear in mind answer this question, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Let whatever is coming up come out. Now answer this question, “Then what?” Again, let whatever is coming up to come out.
And then answer this question, “Then what?” The key is to keep asking “Then what?” until we run out of answers or we come up with some solutions/realizations that take the power away from the fear.
STRATEGY #5: Prove the fear wrong.
I like to look for evidence, disproving the validity of my fear. For example, every time I create something new or I write a new blog post, fear kicks in. “What if people don’t read my post? “What if what I’ve created flops?”
I then think of all the times I’ve written or created something that has been read and hasn’t flopped. Just taking inventory of my past experiences helps me to stand up to my fear. I also like to ask my magic question, “What would I see if I didn’t see fear?”
Evidence and truth are powerful tools, my friends!
Even though we may never be void of fear completely, we are in charge. We have the power of choice on our side; do we let it stop us or do we take a stand and implement a strategy to deal with it? The choice is ALWAYS ours. I say take a stand. Who’s with me?