Fear is an emotion aroused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause you pain, etc. whether the threat is real or imagined. Fear is a vital response – if you couldn’t feel it, you couldn’t protect yourself or your boundaries from real legitimate threats. But often you fear situations that are in no way life-or-death, and thus you stop yourself from living your life fully. You may have experienced traumas or painful experiences in your life and these experiences created beliefs within you that you should fear certain things and sometimes all things. This usually happens early in life or at any point in your life when you experience something painful if you are not conscious to healing and learning from the experience. And any experience you do not heal or learn from will stay buried or not so buried within you.
Any other experience that may seem similar to the original trauma or painful experience then becomes a trigger for a response within you – a FEAR based response usually causing you to REACT. You also feel fear whenever you are going to experience something new or unknown. That’s why some people tend to steer away from change or making certain decisions because new experiences usually generate fear. Most people are comfortable in their uncomfortableness because the fear of doing something new and unknown feels way too scary. The truth is fear will never go away as long as you choose to grow.
The ways to move through the fear are to feel and release it, and expose yourself and do what it is you actually fear. This will also increase your self-esteem because knowing you can handle anything gives you a sense of confidence, power and control over your life. Being trapped by fear makes you feel helpless. When you choose to do nothing is really the issue not the fear itself. Fear is just the feeling and when you hold on to it this creates anxiety. Anxiety is fear that has been suppressed. The anxiety can make you feel like a victim. However, when you choose to take action you take responsibility for yourself and your life.
I personally experienced frequent anxiety attacks during a 2-year span after my divorce. This was my fear-based response to my trigger. The belief that would trigger my fear was “I can’t trust anyone I love because I will be abandoned and hurt.” This belief was created during my childhood when my father left my mother for another woman. He not only abandoned my mother but he abandoned his children. Now you must understand, I had spent a lot of years healing myself and growing through therapy and various healing modalities. However, there was a layer of fear I had suppressed as it related to being in relationship. The only way I could move through my anxiety was to actually be in relationships whether these relationships were friendships or romantic. I had to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Part of my journey of moving myself through the fear was also an understanding of my mind. My mind created all sorts of stories about my ability to actually move through my fear of being in a relationship. It would try different ways to get me to feel helpless, insane and so out of control with my anxiety. It would try to make me believe that the situation was bigger than it really was – life threatening. It was completely irrational but logical based on my past experiences. My mind was really trying hard to protect me even though it was operating from my old wounds and not the current circumstances.
I felt ashamed and paralyzed by my fear and thus I tried to control it even more. However, it was really through my relentless determination and persistence, guidance and support from my support team, and compassion and patience with myself that I was able to move through it. Over time – my fear diminished and I felt more confident in myself to trust others but mostly myself because I knew I could protect my boundaries.
The mental spin (the thoughts you churn around in your head) about your fear is that you want to take control, however, most times you actually choose to do nothing because of fear and anxiety. The beliefs and judgments that commonly run through your mind which generates a “no response – response”:
• I shouldn’t feel afraid.
• I should be ashamed of my fear.
• My fear/anxiety is a form of insanity.
• I need to get rid of my fear.
• I should be rational and in control at all times.
You are actually running away from the thoughts, feelings, sensations or old pain by choosing to do nothing. This puts you in victim/helpless mode. However, when you take action, take responsibility, then you are truly in control. Taking responsibility means never blaming anyone else for anything you are doing, having or feeling.
Observing what you are thinking, feeling and sensing and diving into them is the only way through it. Controlling them keeps you helpless. Think rationally about your fears. Focus on the real problem that you can solve and don’t generate new or implausible catastrophes. Embrace your fears/anxieties. You will have to learn to do things even when they cause you fear/anxiety. To be afraid of doing something and yet doing it anyway is the way you can teach yourself that you can do it. The only way to teach yourself to handle anxious situations is by practicing being anxious and surviving it. The more you do it, the easier it gets. You learn that it’s not dangerous, there is no catastrophe and you don’t need to control things. When you stop giving your fears energy it stops running your life and you can live your life the way you choose to.
Action steps to moving through fear:
1 EVERY situation is an opportunity to learn. What can you learn from the experience? Make a list and keep it with you.
2 Research and make informed decisions whenever a decision is needed. It’s great to receive guidance from others, however, building a healthy self-esteem where you trust yourself, intuition and decision making abilities helps you to be less fearful of making a mistake.
3 What do you value? Knowing yourself allows you to make decisions that honor you, not what others want for you. This allows you to make choices you feel good about.
4 Relax and have fun. Life is not that serious! The world will not blow up because of your decision. Unless, you are deciding whether to create a nuclear bomb in your garage then that’s a different story… LOL!
5 Throw away magical beliefs of perfection. Nothing is perfect. Absolutely nothing!!! Focus less on making perfect decisions and focus more on making decisions that honor you!
6 Take responsibility for yourself. The moment you do you shift your life and yes you feel better and in control of you.
7 And if you make a mistake – learn from it and choose differently next time. Believe me there will be a next time you can revisit the issue. Mistakes are how you learn and grow so learn to view them as teachers.
Love Yourself! Assignment
Journal about the following regarding your fears:
1 Am I seeing things realistically? Is my imagination getting the best of me?
2 Are the consequences real or exaggerated by fear?
3 Are you controlling the situation by running away from your thoughts, feelings, sensations or old pain?
Do you seek out experiences that make you fearful like public speaking if you are afraid of speaking, dating if you fear being in a relationships, etc.?