Fear. One of my absolute favorite topics. It is pervasive, powerful and all-encompassing. I contemplate my own fears a lot. I talk about fear in workshops, talks and with clients. It is a topic that is rich for discussion because it is something that most people are deeply familiar with. Fear is not new to the human race. It had a very clear purpose: keep you alive. When a dinosaur was running at you, you were glad you had a part of your brain that said hide or run. It was a necessary part of evolution, but in our modern times, we don’t have dinosaurs to run from, we only have ourselves.
I assume that if you are a human being in this modern world you are deeply familiar with the topic of fear. You could list your fears off like reading the menu at your favorite restaurant. I have heard the calls to be a baddass and face your fears, or that FEAR means Fuck Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise. I have seen the siren calls to blast through your fears. I understand why people base-jump, bungie jump, or sky dive. We are all looking for a way to overcome and eradicate our fear.
Why Your Fear is So Powerful
We all have our fears. They are typically numerous and powerful. We needed them once upon a time, but now that we don’t have actual dinosaurs chasing us, we just have the ones in our mind. Let me list some of my personal favorites: fear of failure, fear of being judged, fear of being rejected, fear of success, fear of happiness, fear of change. The list goes on and on. If you have a fear of heights, you can stand on the tallest bridge with a harness wrapped around your feet and leap in the face of that fear. I am sure it is very empowering to blast through that fear. This is where it gets complicated though. The fear of heights comes from the same part of your brain that tells you to run when you see a dinosaur. The fear that you are trying to overcome is probably one of the ones that keeps you up at night and stops you from living the life you truly want. That is why fear is so powerful.
The fear that keeps you physically safe is necessary but modern society has created a thousand ways to throw the middle finger at that fear. What we haven’t perfected is a way to beat the fear that keeps you trapped. And let me tell you, I spent so much of my life force trapped by my fears. By the persistent repetitive thoughts that prevented me from truly living. The thing is: your fears are familiar and sickly comforting. It is what you know and yet, the desire to overcome those fears is so powerful and rarely in my experience, does it go away. Your fear was designed to keep you safe but now it has evolved to keep you stuck.
Fall In Love With Your Fear
That’s right. I want you to fall madly in love with your fear. I have tried the white-knuckle approach to my fear. Thinking that if I could say the right things, be bold and tough enough, I could overcome my fear. This is where the problem arises. We need to stop thinking of overcoming our fear and instead, healing the pain behind it. You fear comes from a deeply rooted limiting belief that must be addressed in order to lessen the impact that your fears have on your life. In my own life, the moment that I stopped trying to muscle my way through my fear, I was able to open myself up to a new relationship with it.
- Love Your Fear – You must shift the way that you view your fear. If you continue to see the fears as negative, it becomes very difficult to get close to them. Why would you put yourself into a place that feels bad, right? What if you reframed your relationship to your fear? Newsflash: fear is persistent and sneaky and wears a thousand different disguises and it will not go away. This is why trying to push through the fear doesn’t work, because you end up running away from it in the name of being bold. True bravery is deciding that you are going to stare right at your fears and love the hell out of them.
- What Are You Learning From It? – When you decide that you are going to love your fear you can start the work of learning from it. Maybe your fears are driving a pattern in your life that you are not comfortable with or that you would like to change. Your fear is the ticket then! What is the belief that is driving that fear which is creating that pattern? This is huge and your fear is the ticket to you being able to shift it. Your fear is one of your greatest teachers. The reason that it is persistent and cyclical is that it will keep coming back until you have learned the lesson that you need to. Being curious about what you are meant to learn is a way to snuggle up to your fear and grow.
- See the Sweetness in It – Yep. There is so much sweetness in your fear. In my own life, my fears have been the guidepost by which I mark my personal development. They have brought me so much information and closer to the truth of who I am. Each time a new one or a slightly-revised version of an old one, pops up, I stop and feel into the fear. Instead of taking action from that fear-based place, I cuddle up to my fear and look for the root of what it is teaching me. There is sweetness in this approach. There is vulnerability in this approach.
- Let it Guide You – I ran from my fear for much of my adult life. I was a master at putting on the brave face. The real bravery came when I became utterly tired of letting fear run my life. My fear created negative patterns that I no longer wanted to persist. I couldn’t create new patterns until I learned from the old ones, so fear became the key to changing my life. I like to think of fear now as a compass or a map. When your fears are communicating with you, they are trying to send you in the direction you need to go. What I mean is: you need to move towards your fear to begin to heal it. Step forward towards your fears and let them support you to create positive change in your life.
- You Won’t Become Fearless – I don’t know if utter fearlessness is truly attainable. I certainly have fears pop up and I would never call myself fearless. I do believe however, that you can shift from a place of letting fear navigate every turn in your life to being in a place where you love your fear because of what it teaches you about how capable you truly are. Just like you need your fear to keep you physically safe, you need your fear to create your emotional strength and freedom.
Love Your Fear
Your fear is exactly what you need to change your life. It is the ticket to everything that you want to create. It might seem insurmountable at the moment and the thought of falling in love with your fear might further terrify you but I encourage you to begin to reframe your relationship to this powerful emotion. When those fears pop up in my own life, I immediately settle and ask myself: “what am I learning here?” and in the answers I find so much love and compassion for myself. I used to waste so much of my life force letting fear rule the show and trying to run from it. Now I run towards it. I spend seconds with it now instead of weeks or months or years. Falling in love with my fear is one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Tell me: Can you love your fear?