We talk a lot about courage; in fact, most of my posts touch on courage and being fearless. Is it really possible to be fear-less? Are you without fear? I most certainly am not without fear. Quite the contrary, I’d say. Whew. There it is. I have a lot of fears and worries. What if I am a bad mother, friend, teacher, coach, business woman, partner? What if I fail? I think it goes without saying that we all have fears. The question, then, might be what we do with that fear? Should our fears cripple us? Perhaps it’s unrealistic to say that we need to be fearless. Though, I could live with less fear…
At the risk of sharing a running stream of conscience, I will stop writing about how much less fear I need in my life and share how we can use our fear to propel us forward. The challenge really is how to use it, how to make it into something positive to move ourselves in the right direction. If you do not know how to do that, I have some good ideas to help get you started.
Examine and name the fear. Think about what makes you feel afraid. Is it change? Are you starting a new job? Perhaps you are planning to move to a different neighborhood, state or even country. If you are about to have a baby or adopt a child, that must bring up some fears, too. These are all big changes. Look a little closer at the fear to see if you can find the origin of the feeling. How do you feel when you sense fear? Does your heart start to race? Do you feel clammy, nervous in your stomach, or even light-headed? If so, maybe this is excitement. How exciting to start a new adventure! Change, however big or small, can stir up anxieties, but it could also make us feel excited. Have you forgotten how to feel excited? Maybe so; I did for a while.
Accept that change is inevitable. Life is constantly changing and flowing. I recently read something that I re-shaped and shared on twitter and Facebook: “Do not refuse change when change at this time is vital – feel the fear and do it anyway.” Those are words to live by. Change is vital, and constant. Do not refuse it, for it shall mow you over, my friend. Resistance is futile and the more you resist, the more life will push back (didn’t I say this a while back in the entry on surrender?)
Propel yourself forward. Lean in, breathe, let yourself feel the fear, and then do the deed. Do it in spite of your fears. The athletic wear company is really on to something with it’s key phrase, “Just Do It!” Think about that for a minute. There is so much in this life we could fear, yet we continue to live our lives. What if we take it a little further and use the fear to move us forward, to live, to REALLY enjoy the excitement of the opportunity presented to us that feels scary at first? A new beginning, new love, new business, job, home, a change in perspective.
I firmly believe that life brings us exactly what we need, when we need it. Look for the wisdom in every situation; there is always a lesson. I tweeted those exact words recently, and then had to go back and write it out by hand so I could follow my own advice. That was a tasty dose of medicine… I had to ask myself what wisdom could possibly be presenting itself in this ridiculous situation, a pattern that had repeated, yet again. What lesson could I take away? I had slipped into the defensive, frightened space where I felt the only answers were associated with survival and anger. I don’t want to live in that space anymore, so have taken my own advice and “nudged” myself to face the fear and do it anyway. After feeling weightless for a split-second, I realized that in nudging myself to the ledge and choosing first to believe in myself and then to “just do it,” I felt completely liberated, and that brought me back into the balanced, empowered space where I prefer to reside.
What could possibly go wrong? Will you really fail? Are you a fraud? Am I a fraud? Let’s just stop the bus there and get off at this stop, take a little walk together and see where the path leads. What if you succeed? What if you create something wonderful? What if you get to the next level? What if you meet your life partner after you’ve faced your fears and gone ahead anyway? What if?
Be in the moment. When faced with something new that feels frightening, ask yourself if what you are feeling really is fear. Maybe you are excited about the new adventure, and the fluttering in your belly is passion or excitement. If you have been living in survival mode for a while, consider living in the moment. I know it is cliché, but when you stop for a moment and ask yourself what you are really feeling, you might discover a part of yourself you have never experienced or that you have suppressed while you have been too busy surviving. Live in the moment.
So, in the moment, allow yourself to FEEL the fear, let it flow, hold it gently in your hand rather than in your heart, throat, shoulders, neck, or wherever else you put your anxiety and stress. Welcome the thrill of something new rather than giving-in to fear. Look at what lies ahead, shift your perspective to see the light shining on the horizon; you only need to look up to see it. Bring yourself into the present and start to live your life.
It has been said that brave people are not necessarily fearless; they are simply accustomed to, and more comfortable with, facing fear and moving ahead in spite of themselves.* I know you can do that.
Blessings. Gratitude. Love.
* (for expanded reading, go to: http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2010/23735.html)