FEAR – how to do what you want, in spite of fear…
What strikes fear into your heart? How does it make you feel? What is it keeping you from doing?
Instead of letting your fears drive your life, you can learn to experience it and work WITH it, to create a bolder, better version of your life experience.
“Bless you for your fear for it is a sign of wisdom. Do not hold yourself in fear. Transform the energy to flexibility and you will be free from what you fear.” – Yoko Ono, quoted in Ed and Deb Shapiro’s book, The Way Ahead.
Many times, we try to pretend we don’t feel fear. But it’s a part of everyone’s life. It can arrive in a flash to save your life – that wonderful, instinctive response to danger – but it can also be created in your mind, based on nothing but “what you think might go wrong.”
We certainly don’t want to do away with our instinctual fears because they keep us safe. However, most of our emotional fears are…
… in other words, made up. Yes, we all face a major fear: the fear of loss. We fear losing love, control, autonomy, freedom, money, home, livelihood, health, friends, approval, etc. Most of our fears of losing, though, are not based on survival. They are based on “what you think might go wrong and how my ego will be bruised.”
When you feel the fear of being rejected, it’s not a life-threatening fight-or-flight scenario, right? But the ego believes it is and so you go into red alert mode, and base your behaviors on avoiding potentially being rejected. This fear affects you in so many ways, usually with avoidance behaviors. You might avoid getting romantically involved. You might avoid asking for a raise or promotion. You might avoid trying out for a volleyball team.
While the ego-self is threatened, you cling to the known and familiar and avoid even dipping your toe into the unknown and potentially hazardous (to the ego).
To feel the immediate effect of fear, try this: stand in front of the mirror with a typical fearful posture: shoulders hunched forward, eyes down, arms folded across your chest (a protective, defensive position) and say, “I love you” with feeling. Really try to FEEL “I love you” as you say it, all bound up in fear like this. You can’t. It’s hard to feel love, when your body is saying “but I might get hurt! I might be rejected!”
Here’s how to embrace your fear, and work WITH it.
Look at it through the eyes of love.
Again, go stand in front of a mirror and this time, stand with your arms outstretched toward your mirror-self, chest open, face smiling… and say “I love you.” This time, you can really feel it, right?
Looking at fear through the eyes of love, brings much-needed awareness.
Whereas if you look at your fear through the eyes of love, you begin to understand its protective qualities. Fear comes, and you recognize that you need reassurance and compassion. Fear comes, and you recognize that love feels better than fear. Fear comes, and you recognize that you are focused on what might go wrong and completely ignoring what might just as well go right! Fear comes, and you recognize that you are choosing to imagine what might go wrong (and you DO have a choice to think about a better outcome!).
How wonderful, that fear has alerted you to these things that you probably just assumed were unavoidable!
Meditation helps you ‘sit’ with fear and turn it into your ally. Knowing what you are afraid of, gives you an opportunity to explore and practice thinking about “what might go right” in a completely safe environment (your imagination) and play with that novel idea until you are ready to practice it in real life.
As you meditate, allow whatever feelings are present to arise – including fear. Don’t judge, don’t reject, don’t try to stuff it down… accept it as an experience, and an experience only. For that’s all it is! Any emotion is only a temporary experience – an electrochemical reaction in the brain! Experience the emotion until it subsides (usually less than 90 seconds) without getting caught up in the reason you are afraid. When you calm down, explore an alternative outcome (or multiple outcomes). Playfully, just for the sake of how it feels if you go ahead and do this thing and it works out great… mentally rehearse a better outcome.
Yes. What if it works out perfectly… even better than you imagine it could? Doesn’t that make your heart swell with courage?