How to deal with fear holding you back
You know the feeling when you are super stoked about something new at first.
That thing you always wanted to do, that journey you always wanted to take, that person you always wanted to talk to, that video you created and have been wanting to share with others.
Your being has been touched by an idea, but then suddenly your mind comes in and starts playing its old scheme.
Or maybe you don't even let yourself get to that point of excitement because before walking down dream lane just the slightest bit, your head already told you it's not possible.
Fear, according to a common definition is
"a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain
types of organisms, which causes a change in metabolic and organ
functions and ultimately a change in behavior, such as
fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events."
And that's basically it. Fear is a super powerful and more than necessary, but also very primitive human emotion. The only reason our ancestors could survive and evolve was because fear told them to run or attack (fight or flight). We all know this, I'm pretty sure.
Nowadays though, how much are you actually confronted with real life-threatening danger?
And how many times does an imagined fear in your head keep you from actually going for your dreams?
Maybe your fear holds you back from going out to a public place, a bar, a restaurant by yourself, because you feel fear. Fear that you might be lonely, fear of what other people think about you being there all by yourself.
Maybe you always wanted to travel by yourself but have always been too scared. You fear that you might get hurt, get lost, stuck or, again, lonely.
Maybe you always wanted to cut your hair or change your appearance drastically, but you fear you might not be accepted by and good enough for the people around you if it doesn't look good or just different.
Maybe you are not happy with your job, but you fear that you might not get anything better than this and would rather stay in your well-known although unhappy situation, than enter uncertainty.
Maybe you've found yourself in one or another of these points above. Maybe you've got plenty other examples of your own. You get what I mean!
Now what to do when fear is holding you back? When fear keeps you from living freely and the life of your dreams?
Realizing that you are feeling fear is the first step. Usually fear is accompanied with certain feelings of discomfort, physically or mentally i.e. the thoughts you're having.
When this happens, take a break. Be still for a moment, watch your breath, quiet your mind. TAKE A BREAK! Take a break from thinking. Fear is emotion paired with thoughts that create a story around that emotion. When you take that break, quiet your mind by fully focusing on your breath you will be able to watch what's going on inside of your head, inside your body and detach from it. You will be able to observe it without judging it. Simply recognizing that it is there.
Now that you know that it is there, it is time to realize that even fear - when not an actual physical danger at place - is just an emotional reaction that we got conditioned to having in certain moments. Take away the seriousness of the fear. Recognize it for what it is, a mental construct that you created for yourself.
Fear can be somewhat comforting. Giving in to a certain fear means staying where you are. If you let fear guide you over and over again, you might not ever get out of your comfort zone. Although this can be nice for some (and that's totally fine with me) - be aware that it won't ever get you closer to your truest dreams and desires. It'll be a golden comfort zone cage you create for yourself. And in the end... out there, outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens!
But how the hell do I let go of fear, now that I know it's there and know that it's homemade by me (or conditionings of my surroundings)?
This is the step that takes a little bravery. Some of us are not ready to let go of what's holding us back.
Be aware that if you really, really want to experience the new and different you gotta dare to let go of some old beliefs and fears.
If you're not willing to face the uncomfortable at first - well there's nothing that will magically get you beyond that if you don't do it yourself.
sit and focus on your breath in order to quiet your mind
bring your simple non-judging awareness to your fear
now watch it and deeply breathe into it
when breathing into it I want you to fully dive into this emotion with all feels and sensations it brings with it. Don't try to change it! ALLOW IT TO BE! The more you allow it to be the less powerful it becomes.
- with every inhalation imagine love flowing through you from the crown of your head
- with every exhalation imagine how all the fear is released into the ground underneath you, either through your feet or your pelvic floor
once you start feeling relieve, keep breathing until you feel it's good enough for this time
repeat whenever the fear comes up and is holding you back from living up to your truest and highest potential
Now... how do I actually go out and overcome my fear in real life?
After you've done the mental work and exercise - all you gotta do is ACTUALLY GO OUT AND DO IT.
We only become familiar with uncomfortable, unknown situations if we actually go out and experience them. The more we expose ourselves to these seemingly scary situations and adventures the more we get comfortable and familiar with them.
Your fear response will decrease, the automated threat-reaction will cease.
Soon you realize that facing fear is just like riding a bicycle. The more you do it, the safer you feel doing it.
It's that simple and it feels so damn good!
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale love. Exhale fear.
DISCLAIMER: Mindfulness, meditation and fear-transformation is a great support for any situation. I am not talking about fear as a reasonable reaction to actual physical danger, nor is this blog supposed to be sufficient advice for people with severe panic attacks or mental disorders. Please contact your health care advisor to talk about other options and necessary steps.