Why am I talking about fear?
Recently I listened to a podcast from my friend, and brilliant author, Auburn Seal. In her podcast she touches on her fear of starting that podcast and what motivates her to overcome her fear. She quotes Frank Herbert from Dune and discusses how it helps her to look up inspirational quotes to inspire herself when she needs to. She did such a wonderful job of talking about how she overcomes her fear and proclaims that by her tagline “Say it loud and let it be”. She has a true desire to be authentic with her life and be true to herself. Knowing Auburn I know personally that she’s one of the kindest and most authentic people alive. She gives some great advice on living your perfect life while being imperfect. I’d like to encourage you to go give it a listen.
While listening to her podcast it occurred to me that fear comes up more than any other self complaint in my coaching sessions. We all fear something. Sometimes it’s fear of failure or being judged and sometimes it’s a fear of heights or loss. Whatever your fears are the best way to overcome them is by facing them. Pema Chodron says “If you don’t know the nature of fear then you can never be fearless”. We’re all afraid of something. Auburn was afraid to start her podcast. I am afraid I’ll never lose weight like I should. That’s my fear and by knowing my fear and understanding it I can beat it. I can become fearless. I can also try eating less cake.
But… It’s not always that easy is it?
Let’s talk a little about the types of fear.
Basically fear can be broken down in a few ways. Once you understand where your fear starts then it’s easier to work towards becoming fearless.
The main areas I’d like to focus on are ego, being hurt, and the future.
We all have an image of ourselves. We all want to be the better person, the bigger person, the person who is right. Our ego is a direct pathway to our self-esteem. It’s a collection of thoughts we identify with. Our ideas of perfection and of all the things we think are holy and true about ourselves and the world around us. What if it isn’t though? What if all ego is is our imagined self-worth? It’s only by breaking the boundary of “I AM” can we see through our ego and manifest a healthier image of self-worth. By understanding that you are in control of the ego you can lift yourself from “I am going to fail” to I am going to succeed”. It’s not simple, trust me I know, but when you really change your perspective on how you see yourself you start to overcome that fear of losing and being looked down upon. My first worlds to myself every morning are “I am happy. I am well. I am loved” I encourage you to start a morning routine of self love. Watch that ego sitting on your left shoulder fade away while you build a wall of self love.
We all have a fear of being hurt on some level. Sometimes it’s the fear of someone leaving you. Sometimes that fear is about physical pain. Either way it’s often a fear based upon our friend the ego. Let’s tackle these one at a time.
Fear of being hurt by someone
Usually, not always, this stems from the fear of being alone or perceiving that you are alone. It can also come from past experience, being hurt by a parent that left, or a lover who parted ways. The pain seems just as real to you now as the pain you felt when they left. That is one of the most frightening thoughts sometimes, but this same fear can also be calmed by accepting that loss is a part of life. I love my girlfriend and I’d hate to lose her, but I know if I did I would be ok, because I love myself enough to allow myself to heal. That’s what self love is, healing. You’re going to cry, be upset, and feel alone but when you practice self love you allow yourself to heal happier and healthier.
Fear of being hurt physically
This is a different type of fear. I had a close friend who would never walk with me in Portland out of fear of being beaten and mugged. Were his fears founded in anything other than his own head? Maybe. Maybe he saw a news story about a mugging, or maybe his mother told him a story when he was a child as a warning not to travel too far from home. The truth is that I have walked all over Portland and Cincinnati and have never been mugged. Maybe I was lucky but it never happened to me. Was his fear wrong? Not necessarily because it was a true fear he felt., It wasn’t from a personal experience. we say to ourselves “I can’t bungee jump because I could smash on the ground below” “I can’t take up running because a dog might bite me” “I can’t I can’t I can’t…” Let me tell you what you can’t do in reality. If you’re like me you can’t fly like Superman. You can’t jump the Grand Canyon, even with a running start. You can’t let the fear of being hurt stop you from living your life. When I was in Bible collage I learn a phrase that I didn’t really grasp at the time but practice every day now. I was told “Live every day like the lord is coming back, but also live like he never will”. I didn’t get it at the time, but now I know that it means live a good life, but live it to its fullest. You might get hurt, you might fall, you might fail, but don’t let those fears stop you from trying new things and being happy. I was afraid of heights until I started a job that forced me to climb tall ladders. Did I want to climb those ladders? Hell no! But I did. I forced myself to overcome my fear and I haven’t looked back. I realized that day if I had worried about being hurt I would have never looked upon Mt. Hood at sunset the way I got to see it that day.
Fear of the future
In our current climate it’s understandable how a person can be afraid of the future. Just as the past often keeps up trapped in depression the future can keep us trapped with anxiety. I use to fear losing my wife and then I did. I use to fear losing my freedom and then I did. I use to fear (filling in the blank) because I probably lost it. All my fears were based on things that had yet to happen, things that were temporary, or things that were imaginary. “What if I don’t do… What if I forget to… What if what if what if…” Loss is inevitable. Understanding that all things will end helps you discover one thing, the future has yet to happen and fearing it is a waste of time. If I lived in a log cabin is my time better spent doing my work and living my life or is it better spent worrying about a forest fire that may never happen? I look at life as an empty row boat. Let’s say we’re on a lake and it’s so foggy we can’t see anything past the bow of the boat. We’re sitting in your brand new row boat when from out of nowhere another row boat slams into us. We didn’t see it coming and all we could do was feel afraid and angry at that guy driving it. We look into the boat and there isn’t anyone. It’s an empty row boat. We see the robe dangling in the water and realize that the boat broke free from the dock. We’re relieved we aren’t hurt and laugh about our anger at this person who didn’t exist. The fog is the future, the empty row boat is the anxiety were fear about the future, and our anger was the fear of loss or being hurt. All of life’s issues can be seen as an empty row boat. Until you see it don’t fear it and when you do see it acknowledge what you are afraid of and let it go.
What is the nature of your fear?
What can you do to face it?
Tell me in the comments below.
Now, there are other fears, but it’s a good chance that they fall somewhere in one of these categories. It’s only by acknowledging those fears that we allow ourselves to accept them and let go. Not everyone is going to like you. Not every will go as planned. Don’t allow the fear of a future that hasn’t happened cripple your present desire for happiness. Do the best you can and try to be better and braver than you were yesterday. In meditation we teach people to see thoughts as birds. Let them come, acknowledge them, and let them go. Fear is the same way. Let it come, acknowledge it, and let it go. Love yourself daily. Accept yourself for the person you are, and free yourself from the fear of what might be. Your future is waiting for you to create it, not fear it. Wake up, look into the mirror, and say “I am _____”
Thank you for reading.
Written by: Tanis Robert Justice
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