10 Life-Changing Facts About Fear

freefromfear1Note: This article is a follow-up to the guest post I wrote for The Bold Life (thanks, Tess!) about how to flourish in the face of fear.

“The presence of fear is a sure sign you’re trusting in your own strength.”
~A Course in Miracles

If you’re a human being, chances are you experience fear. These bodies we live in are built for survival, and fear is the gatekeeper. It protects us, keeping us safe and secure by making us wary of any potential threat that might come our way. Fear breeds caution, vigilance, and suspicion.

Which is fine if a hungry lion is chasing you. But if your intention is to live in the abundance that is always here, to lead with the heart, to be open to the depth and breadth of what might be possible in your life, then fear deserves your attention.

A Sacred Choice

Simply said, running from fear doesn’t work. If we avoid turning to face it, it will nip at our heels forever. What does this mean? We live a fear-led life, choosing partners, jobs, and friends out of fear. Habits and addictions run wild because we are afraid of meeting our feelings. We feel separate and alienated, while deep inside, we recognize the echo of truth whispering softly.

Here is my question to you as we move into 2011. What do you want? I mean what do you really want for this precious life you have been given? If you are committed to knowing yourself fully, to living fully, then get to know fear. Start with these facts, then step aside and let your life unfold in all its glory.

Facts About Fear

  1. Fear-motivated thoughts are all about “can’t.” They create a negative, imagined scenario about the future. Here’s the truth: you don’t know what is going to happen, so these thoughts can’t possibly be true. Buy into these thoughts, and you are inviting limitation. Let them float on by, and you will see what is actually true for you.
  2. Fearful thoughts are designed to keep you safe and limited. They are not wisdom, and they are not truth. You get to choose what to follow.
  3. Fear always includes physical sensations. Learn to recognize these, and receive them as they are with an open heart.  Channel the energy of fear into excitement and enthusiasm.
  4. Fear makes us think that something negative will happen, when the truth is that we don’t know what is going to happen. Become comfortable with not knowing so that fear doesn’t rule you.
  5. Resisting fear strengthens it. The antidote is awareness – being willing to directly experience fear as it appears to you in the moment, recognizing the thoughts and physical sensations.
  6. The goal is not to get rid of fear, as you don’t have the power to make this happen. But you do have the power to change the way you relate to fear. Learn to receive it with curiosity and a loving heart, get to know how it spins thoughts that deflate the things you are enthusiastic about. But don’t feel like something is wrong or you have failed if it continues to appear. Simply meet it lovingly every time.
  7. A surge of fear tends to arise directly after a moment of truth. Say that an idea appears in your mind about something you’d love to do. Soon after, you might notice that your mind is filled with reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do it. Recognize that this is fear speaking.
  8. Recognizing the presence of fear allows you to make conscious decisions. You have the clarity to see what fear is guiding you to do, and you can consider what you really want.
  9. Fear is not the enemy. It can be the voice of reason, caution, and practicality that serves you well at times.
  10. It takes energy to resist fear. Getting to know it and allowing it to be lets your body and mind relax, as the fight is over. This opens a space for creativity, wonder, awe, love, beauty, inspiration.

Learn about fear. Know it so well that it can’t sneak up on you. Free yourself from the chains of fear, and every moment of your life will shine.

How have you dealt with fear? Does it hold you back? What happens when you embrace fear? I’d love to hear…

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32 Comments

  1. Posted December 30, 2010 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Thank you, I needed this so much today!

    • Posted December 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Your are most welcome, Hilary. So glad you took the time to leave a comment.

  2. avatar Northstar
    Posted December 30, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this post – and for so many others that I have read on your site. They all resonate so deeply within me – and help to point my attention in the right direction. I feel like I am just waking up on so many levels – and right now, getting to know my fear seems to be foremost for me. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with sadness but I’m beginning to realize that there is fear mixed up in that sadness too. Fear seems to be a bit of a trickster – in my experience, at least! Thanks again, Gail!

    • Posted December 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Hi Northstar,

      I am so glad that you are finding what you need here.

      Yes, that is my experience also, that fear can be a trickster. If we are willing and want to know the truth more than hiding from it, everything will eventually be seen.

      Love to you, NS…

  3. Posted December 30, 2010 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Fear has kept me from writing as well or as much as I would like to – fear of failure. It takes courage to send that proposal or manuscript because of the fear of a form letter rejection slip.
    .-= Rural View´s last blog ..Evidence by Jonathan Kellerman =-.

    • Posted December 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to you, RV! So glad you stopped by, and I appreciate your comment.

      JK Rowling (Harry Potter) and Tim Ferris (4-hour workweek) both had manuscripts rejected over 20 times. Can you imagine? 20 rejection letters, and they still persisted.

      There is nothing at all wrong with being afraid of failure or rejection. This is what is here. So can you, just for a moment, let the fear be here, understand that it is trying to protect you, and tap into your truest, non-fear-based desire. Then the choice is yours.

      And whatever choice you make, you are always welcome here.

  4. Posted December 30, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    What I really honed in on here is that you can befriend and lovingly accept fear without letting fear dictate everything you do and decide. As a suggestion for your next article, you might want to write a mirror article about the virtue of courage! :)
    .-= Steve Borgman´s last blog ..How To Make A Million Dollars =-.

    • Posted December 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      I love suggestions, Steve! Thank you. Courage is certainly a virtue to embody in the face of fear.

      What you said is so clear: “you can befriend and lovingly accept fear without letting fear dictate everything you do and decide.” This is the possibility.

  5. Posted December 30, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Great follow up Gail. My two favorite sayings about fear are:

    1. Anxiety is about the future; depression is about the past

    2. Fear will get you hurt

    Of course #2 is highly contextual, but relevant.

    Have a great New Year!

    Chris
    .-= Chris Akins´s last blog ..When inspiration strikes =-.

    • Posted December 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris,

      I’m with you on #1, but not sure about #2. I’ll give it some thought.

      Wishing you a wonderful New Year also…

  6. Posted January 1, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Hi Gail.

    Fear sure does make us think something negative will happen. It is pretty much a one-sided type of feeling. I have never had fear that good things would happen. The thing is that bad things have not happened most of the time I had fear regarding them. Sometimes they do happen though.

    I do view fear as the enemy, but your point #9 there negates that thought. I see it like I am in a 1on1 battle with my adversary FearMan, and I have to defeat him if I am to go to ConquerVille. Your #9 makes a bit more sense.

    I think most people would rather cover up their thoughts about their relationship with fear than to discuss it or think about it like is done here. It is one of our very personal thought patterns.

    2011 shout outs to Gail“
    .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..The 12 Days Of Posts – Mentioning Many Folks =-.

    • Posted January 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      Wow, 2011! Thanks for all the shout-outs, Armen.

      I agree that most people would rather hide from their thoughts about fear than get them out in the open, even though hiding from them doesn’t help us to move through fear. We keep doing the same thing trying to get a different result – hiding from our fear and hoping it will go away – what some people would call insanity. So if fear is still a deterrent, we could say, why not try another approach? And that approach would be to actually look directly into the fear, with compassion.

      Happiest of New Years to you, Armen…

  7. Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Hi Gail,
    I loved your article on Tess’ blog and this is such an excellent followup. This is my favorite advice: “Become comfortable with not knowing so that fear doesn’t rule you.”
    .-= Sandra Lee´s last blog ..Is a Lack of Forgiveness Holding You Back =-.

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Hi Sandra,

      I appreciate the point that resonated with you. Fear makes us afraid of bad things happening in the future. The medicine is to befriend not knowing, which is aligning our mind with the truth. When we look clearly with laser-like attention, we see that the mind pretends to know, but really doesn’t. And it is very creative at coming up with all kinds of scary scenarios!

      Love to you…

  8. Posted January 2, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    This is a very, very, very helpful, inspiring and authoritative post Gail. Your 10 specific facts and recommendations about fear are so accurate, and so clarifying. I want to spend some more time with this most valuable article. Thanks so much.
    .-= Christopher Foster´s last blog ..100 steps to grace for 2011 =-.

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I’m glad you found this article so helpful, Chris.

      Big love to you and yours as we move into the magnificence of 2011…

  9. Posted January 5, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Great follow up to the piece on tess’s page. This makes me think about how arrogant fear can be, thinking it can predict the future, thinking it has the power. Here’s to seeing it for what it is and not what it thinks it is. :)
    .-= Clearly Composed´s last blog .. The Word For 2011 Is… =-.

    • Posted January 5, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Yes, Emma! Let’s see the truth and not live in mind-created illusions.

  10. Posted January 5, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Gail,
    You had me with no.1! Don’t tell anyone I’m the bold 1 you know?!?
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..110 Tips to Create an Amazing New Year =-.

    • Posted January 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      You are bold, Tess. It’s not about having no fear. And you are a shining example of what can be accomplished by not catering to fear.

  11. Posted January 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Fear is false evidence appearing real. We have to see past our fears. It takes time but we can do it. It starts with a smile that can shatter torment and words that blind our fears all too.completely.

    • Posted January 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      I love your positive attitude, Jonathan. We can move past our fears. Not that we never feel fear again, but we don’t let the fear rule us.

      And I so appreciate your insight that a smile can transform everything. In fact, I’m smiling right now!

  12. avatar Miguel
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Fear has always been my greatest obstacle.
    It feels good to be reminded that it can be overcome through acceptance.
    Thank you :)

    • Posted January 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Welcome, Miguel. Yes, we can give up the fight with fear because that only empowers it. Acceptance is the pathway to peace.

  13. Posted January 24, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gail,
    Just a note to say I’m really excited to have found your blog and I’m looking forward to start reading – my word of the year is ‘flourish’ and serendipitously, I found your website today. Best wishes,
    Vicky :)

    • Posted January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Great to have you on board, Vicky. Obviously, I like the word “flourish” too.

      May this year flourish beyond measure for you…

  14. Posted April 14, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Finding the blog quite therapeutic while I sit here at my otherwise uninspiring job dealing with a cold. Definitely challenging me to change my thoughts and relieving stress in the process. Thanks Gail! Btw, found you via Zen Habits.

    • Posted April 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      A warm welcome to you, Bill. So glad you stopped by – and hope you recover soon.

      Sounds like you are using your uninspiring moments well – to contemplate changing thoughts and relieving stress. You might find that the stress reduces once you let go of fearful thoughts.

      Wishing you well…

  15. avatar Seth
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m into sales, and fear is one of the things I need to overcome and your article really help me a lot. Thank you so much. :)

  16. Posted December 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    This struck me as so true that I borrowed it for my blog. With a link to this page of course. Thank you.

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