One of the hardest things to do when you’re trying to move forward in your life is not to allow the fear you’re feeling to hold you down. As a child abuse survivor, I felt trapped by my internal fears, triggers and limiting beliefs. They crept in my mind, infesting my thoughts to where I became frozen and unable to process the day, let alone the next step at times.
I know that I’m not alone in this. Getting back up when our fears are screaming at us to stay down is paralyzing. For thirty years, I called this my life, and I was done with feeling stuck. I’d had enough.
After the past seven years of study, mentors, therapy, following the lead of positive role models, and making myself more of a priority, the shift began. I started to understand how to see my fears as a confidante rather than an enemy. My fears haven’t gone away. The difference is that now I can function and still keep pressing forward, knowing that fear is essential, and for that, I’m grateful.
You are not your fear
- Recognize your fear and call out to it. Get clear what you’re afraid of? It can be anything. Many times our fears are like an onion that has multiple layers. Is it spiders, clowns, natural disasters, death, betrayal, getting too close to someone, loss, or rejection?
- What happened to create this fear?
- How’s it holding you back?
- If you’re going to let go of fear you have to recognize them first. It’s called gaining consciousness. When you start to feel yourself getting a little anxious or fearful, stop, and take notice. Think to yourself. “Oh, here it is. I’m starting to get freaked out.” Instead of being reactive to the emotion, take a deep breath, and see what’s going on around you.
- Watch how your body reacts to the situation for future understanding. By doing this, you start to disengage from the fear as the ultimate reality. It helps you to realize that you are NOT your fear.
Fear sends you healthy alerts
Fear is like a fire alarm alerting you to check something out. It propels us into action. Julia Cameron says, “Fear is not something to meditate and medicate away. It is something to accept and explore.”
The ego is the part of your mind that stays focused on the past. It feeds you all the time with messages like “Watch out. It’s going to happen again.” It’s a sly trick that riddles our fear that we will indeed hurt again, and so instead of being open to different experiences and outcomes, we halt. Most of us are afraid of this emotion because so many of our fear experiences have been negative. But, in reality, it is a very positive and useful tool.
Facing our Fears
- You have to surrender them and become willing to create a different reality. Your life will not turn out differently unless you do something different.
- What are your truths? (Example: Mine are a Child Abuse Survivor, Scoliosis Survivor, a writer, speaker, and a mom.)
- Write down your truths and start peeling back the layers on the onion one step at a time. Don’t try to take it all at once as your truths will be deep, challenging, and emotional. Be gentle with yourself as you unfold each layer.
- If you’re afraid of speaking, go find a place to talk and share your voice. If you’re scared of snakes, pet one or read a book about a specific breed. You could even go to an aquarium and stand in front of the tank.
- Encourage yourself to do one scary thing each day. It doesn’t need to be large. Every step forward is something to be proud of.
Learn to start loving yourself and appreciating all that you are. Piece by piece, this has helped me to begin healing. Once I nourished myself, the fears I felt didn’t seem to control my life anymore. I found clarity on handling difficult situations and challenges with more grace, patience, and positivity.
There have been quite a few things that have helped me so far on my journey to navigate and form a relationship with fear. Here are some resources to support you along your path.
- Motivational videos– Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Lisa Nichols, and Tony Robbins are a few of my favorite speakers who have excellent talks. Check out TEDTalks.
- Gratitude journal- No matter how tough things feel, there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Looking for those things gives us the opportunity to see that we can indeed find beauty even in the darkest moments.
- Positive Affirmations- Write five things that you want to start positively shifting in your mind. One positive thing per card. If you have a negative internal dialogue that you don’t think you’re brilliant, write on your card “I’m Smart.” Use reverse psychology and say these five affirmations EVERY SINGLE DAY. Important: Say them like you mean it.
- Take time out to breathe. Do something that calms your spirits, is enjoyable, fun, or creative. It can be for ten minutes or longer. Whatever you need in that moment, give it to yourself. You deserve to treat yourself with compassion and care.
- Read uplifting books– Pick books that lift your spirits and help you to better yourself. Form a book club with a group and read a different inspirational book each week or month.
- Get an accountability/support buddy– It’s essential to find someone you can share your process on the big and small things. Every step is important to acknowledge.
- Surround yourself with a group of like-minded friends. Having this support system and team will help to keep you grounded, supported, and appreciated.