May 5, 2009
Fear is something that we all experience throughout our lives, especially on our journey toward deeper authenticity. Being who we really are, expressing ourselves honestly, being bold, and going for what we want in life can cause a great deal of fear in us.
I get scared all the time. 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 I have (being judged, making mistakes, looking bad, failing, disappointing others, and more). It’s just part of being human.
Many of us run away or hide from our fears because they seem scary, uncomfortable, or embarrassing. We also erroneously think we “shouldn’t” have them or that we are somehow “wrong” for feeling scared. However, most things that mean a lot 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 experience quite a bit of fear along the way.
The question isn’t whether or not we 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 fears in an honest way so they don’t stop me from being who I really am and going for what I truly want in life?
How to move through your fear in a positive way:
1) Admit it – Acknowledge your fear, tell the truth about it, and be real. When we feel scared and are willing to admit it with a sense of empathy and compassion for ourselves, it can often take the edge off and give us a little breathing room to begin with.
2) Own it – Take responsibility for your fear and 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 we remember that no one else can “make” us scared – only we have that power – we take back the responsibility and the power of the fear and remember that it exists within us, so we are the only ones who can change it.
3) Feel it – Allow yourself to feel your fear, not just think about it or talk about it (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 we feel our fear deeply and passionately, it has a way of dissipating.
4) Express it – Let it out. Speak, write, emote, move your body, yell, or do whatever you feel is necessary for you to do to express your fear. Similar to feeling any emotion with intensity, when we express emotions with intensity and passion, they move right through us. When we repress our emotions, they get stuck and can become debilitating and dangerous.
5) Let it go – This one is often easier said than done – for me and many people I work with. Letting go of our fear becomes much easier when we honestly admit, own, feel, and express it. Letting go of our 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 to 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, 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 allow us to move through our 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 boldness – we can literally transform them into something that catapults our growth and fulfillment in life.