“We can either watch life from the sidelines, or actively participate…Either we let self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy prevent us from realizing our potential, or embrace the fact that when we turn our attention away from ourselves, our potential is limitless.”
I had an epiphany the other day. For months, I have been planning a trip – traveling alone for three weeks in France. Two days before I left, I noticed fear…panic…doubt. What am I doing? Why am I doing this?
And then the light turned on. Would I give up this trip because of fear? Would I stay home and play it safe? Would I deny the “Yes!” that has pervaded my plans every step of the way? Never.
This is why it is essential to make fear your friend. If you live in the fantasy that life will start once you are no longer afraid, you will be playing the waiting game forever. The antidote? Get real.
I know you might be glazing over by now, thinking this is just another self-help post telling you to beat your fear. It isn’t. I don’t want you to beat your fear. But I do offer an invitation to turn toward it and see it clearly. I invite you to drop your veils and defenses and get serious about what you actually experience and what you want. I invite you to stop running and let yourself live into the fullness of you.
When you avoid fear, you let it rule. Unexamined fear takes root, paralyzing you and keeping you small. You miss opportunities and turn away from your true path.
I know, in my heart of hearts, that if you learn to walk with fear in the moments of your life that you create the space to express yourself without limit. As a popular book says, you feel the fear and do it anyway. So don’t simply read these words. Take them on, reflect on them, and don’t let fear deter you any longer. The whole world is waiting for you.
Deeply understand that the goal is not to get rid of fear. Ever. Fear may go away for a time, but don’t be put off if it returns. See it as an opportunity every time. Repeat the sacred mantra of acceptance, “Oh, this,” then move forward including, rather than excluding, fear.
Take the attitude of working with fear rather than fighting against it. Think of an aikido master who accesses power by moving with the energy of his opponent. Your power comes from putting down the fight and allowing fear to be present.
End of Story
Know that repeating a story of fear strengthens the feeling. Notice your internal self-talk. If it is telling scary stories about the future, fear is the culprit. Bring your attention directly into the feeling instead. Repeating fear-based stories simply doesn’t serve.
Knowledge Is King
Get to know fear intimately in every moment in which it arises. Become familiar with what triggers it, notice it, see how it moves in your body, tune into how it affects your thoughts and behavior. Be an expert in fear so it stops dominating you.
Once you have the lay of the land, make a choice. You know fear is present. You recognize that it tells you to put on the brakes or not move forward. It persistently taps you on the shoulder, saying, “I can’t,” “I shouldn’t,” “I better not.” It makes you doubt yourself endlessly. Now, here is where the rubber meets the road. Are you man or mouse? What do you really want this life to be about?
I imagine I will have the opportunity to work with fear in the next few weeks. My French will fail me, I’ll get lost, I’ll hesitate walking into a restaurant alone. But I stand in the truth with fear as my companion, whenever it happens to arise.
And this I know for sure: the only problem is that which is created by thinking. I can think myself into fear and distress, or I can relax and enjoy. Guess which one I choose. And you?
Have you made fear your friend? What has been the effect? I’d love to hear…