Fear is something that we all experience, especially on our journey toward deeper authenticity, fulfillment, and success in life. Being who we really are, expressing ourselves boldly, and going for what we want in life can cause a great deal of fear in us.
I experience fear all the time – especially when I’m taking risks, doing new things, and putting myself out there. When I was younger I thought there was something really wrong with me because I would get so nervous – in sports, in school, in social settings, and more.
I now understand that everyone else experiences their own version of the same basic fears (being judged, making mistakes, looking bad, failing, disappointing others, and more). It’s just part of being human.
Many of us struggle with learning how to work with our fear. We run away or hide when things get scary, uncomfortable, or embarrassing. We also erroneously think we shouldn’t have fear or we’re somehow wrong for feeling scared. However, most things that mean something to us in life don’t show up without any fear at all. And as we strive to live with authenticity, it’s inevitable that we’ll get scared along the way.
Moving through our fear is a transformative journey. It pushes us. It makes us uncomfortable. But it also helps us reach our full potential. It begins with us telling the truth about how we truly feel.
When we challenge ourselves to confront our fears head on, we build resilience and gain confidence. Every step we take towards our fears brings us closer to freedom from the grip of them.
Doing this requires determination, patience, and, most importantly, self-belief. As we learn how to move through our fear, we discover inner strength we never knew we had. We become empowered to embrace life’s challenges and to grow.
The question isn’t whether or not we’ll experience fear in our lives (because we all do and always will for as long as we live); the more important question for each of us to ask and answer is, how can I move through my fear in an honest way so that it doesn’t stop me from being who I really am and going for what I truly want in life?
How to Move Through Your Fear
Here are a few key things you can do to most effectively move through your fear.
1. Admit it
Acknowledge your fear, tell the truth about it, and be real. When you feel scared and are willing to admit it with a sense of empathy and compassion for yourself, it can often take the edge off and give you a little breathing room to begin with.
2. Own it
After you acknowledge your fear, take responsibility for it. Own it as yours, not anyone else’s. We often have a tendency to blame others for doing or saying things that “scare” us. However, when you remember that no one else can “make” you scared – only you have that power – you take back the responsibility and the power of the fear and remember that it exists within you, so you are the only person who can change it.
3. Feel it
Allow yourself to feel your fear, not just think about it or talk about it (this is something I often catch myself doing). Feel it in your body and allow yourself to go into the emotion of it, even if it is scary or uncomfortable. Like any emotion, when you feel your fear deeply and passionately, it has a way of dissipating.
4. Express it
To move through your fear, you must let it out. Speak, write, emote, move your body, yell, visualize, or do whatever you feel is necessary for you to do to express your fear. Similar to feeling any emotion with intensity, when you express emotions with intensity and passion, they move right through you. When you repress our emotions, they get stuck and can become debilitating and dangerous.
Expressing emotions is absolutely crucial for both your mental and emotional well-being. It allows you to release pent-up feelings, prevent emotional build-up, and maintain a healthy balance within yourself.
5. Let it go
This one is often easier said than done. Letting go of your fear becomes much easier when you honestly admit, own, feel, and express it. Letting go of your fear is a conscious and deliberate choice, not a reactionary form of denial. Once you’ve allowed yourself the time to work through your fear, you can declare “I’m choosing to let go of my fear and use its energy in a positive way.”
6. Visualize the positive outcomes you desire
Think about, speak out loud, write down, or even close your eyes and visualize how you want things to be, and, more important, how you want to feel. If your fear is focused on something specific like your work, a relationship, money, etc., visualize it being how you want it to be and allow yourself to feel how you ultimately want to feel.
7. Take action
Be willing to take bold and courageous actions, even if you’re still feeling nervous. Your legs may shake, your voice might quiver, but that doesn’t have to stop you from saying what’s on your mind. It doesn’t have to stop you from taking a risk, making a request, trying something new, or being bold in a small or big way. Doing this is what builds confidence and allows you to truly move through your fear.
Fear can and does stop us in life – from being ourselves, speaking our truth, and going for what we really want. But, when we remember with compassion that there’s nothing wrong with us for getting scared and when we’re willing to lean into our fears with vulnerability and courage – we can literally transform them into something that catapults our growth and fulfillment in life.
What would you do or say if fear didn’t stop you? How can you move through your fear in a more authentic and effective way? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.
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This article was published in 2010 and updated for 2023.