“What worries you, masters you.”
If fear is still controlling you, then this post is for you. We all know, that a fear-driven life doesn’t work. It keeps us small and limited and deprives the world of our full and magnificent creative expression.
Living in fear feels bad – have you noticed? Decisions fueled by “I can’t” and “I shouldn’t” bring only confusion and dissatisfaction to our lives. We lose focus, let go of our dreams, and accept mediocre as good enough.
This is no way to live.
Yes, fear is scary. It looms large. We are afraid of losing people, money, health, status. We fear being irresponsible or risking everything. We choose playing it safe over wonder, potential, and possibility. Is this you?
Many of us are locked into a fear-driven life. We’ve convinced ourselves that we just can’t take the risk to put the fears aside and move forward. So here’s the solution: we need to take a very intelligent approach to fear.
It’s not enough to say you need to banish fears or overcome them. When it comes to fear, you need to break it down and understand it from the inside out. You need to become familiar with the way it shows up in your experience and develop a lifestyle that keeps you alert and present so it doesn’t sneak up on you.
Addressing fear takes intention and willingness. Do you want to unlock yourself from fear? Then seriously consider these three vital keys.
Key #1: Get to Know the Face of Fear
Fear doesn’t always hit you head-on. For years, I had many symptoms of fear before I realized that it was actually driving me. And once I did, everything changed.
The intelligent approach to fear begins with recognizing it. And here are the clues:
- Obsessive worrying
- Imagining negative outcomes about the future – “What if?”
- Excessive mental activity that tries to analyze every angle of every situation
- Doubt and indecision – “Should I or shouldn’t I?”
- A low level of stress or anxiety, especially felt in your body
- A sense of living in your head, detached from your body – maybe it feels like this:
Recognizing the face of fear is absolutely essential if you want it to lose its power over you. Every time you realize that you are worrying, ruminating, or doubting, relax and say, “Hello, fear,” then go to key #2.
Key #2: Feel the Physical Sensations of Fear
What is fear exactly? The answer to this question is fundamental to unlocking yourself from fear.
We experience what we call fear when we tell ourselves a scary story and feel certain bodily sensations, such as tension or contraction. Make this understanding alive for you – right now – by checking it out in your own experience. You will notice a fear response that shows up in your body along with thoughts that doubt, worry, analyze, ruminate, plan, project, etc.
Congratulations! You have just shone the light directly on fear. You see that whenever you feel fear, there are physical sensations and scary, anxiety-producing thoughts.
These thoughts are reinforced by your attention to them, and they keep you stuck in fear. They aren’t logical or necessarily even true.
So rather than thinking these thoughts over and over (a recipe for continued unhappiness), bring your attention into your body, directly to the physical sensations. Open up your awareness to receive the actual experience of whatever you feel in your body. Breathe and just let them be, even if they are intense.
In the moment of doing that, you have disempowered the fear. You have taken your attention away from the thoughts, and you are simply being with the physical sensations.
This is the moment of freedom. When you feel the bodily sensations without the pressure of the fearful thoughts, you have unlocked the door to freedom from fear.
Key #3: It’s All About the Moment
It’s really important to understand that the goal is not to get rid of fear. Why? Because it’s not possible. Remember, this is the intelligent approach to fear. We want to be very realistic and practical to support you on the road to freedom.
And freedom doesn’t mean feeling no fear. It means working intelligently with your experience so fear no longer controls you.
Once you develop a rhythm of feeling the bodily sensations every time you notice fearful thoughts, fear simply loses its oomph. It softens every time you move your attention away from thinking and into the sensations of the body.
Add up these moments, and here is what you will notice: more peace, greater clarity about people and situations, more choices that you never thought of before, a lightness and brightness in your being.
The only time you can do anything intelligently about fear is when it arises in the moment. When you notice it, stop, breathe, feel. Every time is a turn of the key to freedom.
As I’m sure you know, fear confuses you. It clouds your thinking toward the negative and leaves you blinded to the full range of possibilities in any situation. And it keeps you on lock-down.
Keys 1, 2, and 3 invite you to let go of fear-ridden thoughts and breathe with the physical sensations right in the body.
When fear is no longer driving you, it might be present, but so is your innate wisdom. You acknowledge the fear, see the truth of it – simply thoughts and sensations, and step forward released and free.
Does fear trap you? What has helped you find freedom from it? I’d love to hear…