If you’re creating something new, going for a new goal, sharing your work with others, in business for yourself, or simply interacting with others you’re likely to come across fear. We all experience fear in different ways and forms and some people feel it more frequently than others.
I actually experience fear fairly regularly. I’m pretty introverted and talking on the phone with new people is actually pretty scary for me. More often than not (though not ALWAYS!), I can see fear for what it is and can move with it, through it, and around it.
Now, before I go deep into this, I need to say that fear is not a bad thing. Fear helps to keep us safe. Fear is why we’re alive today. But too often our life is ruled by fear, and especially the fear of things that are very unlikely to even happen.
There are many kinds of fear and ways fear shows up. Here are some examples:
1) Fear for life (there is some significant risk to your physical safety)
2) Exaggerated fear (the perceived fear is bigger or more extreme than the actual risk)
3) Fear of exposure/vulnerability (this fear usually is emotional)
In the Confidence Code (great read btw!), the authors go into detail about a study on arachnaphobia. In a supportive environment in the presence of a trained therapist, people who had a deep-seated fear of spiders (arachnaphobes) were given the opportunity to face their fear head on and touch a spider.
The participants who did touch the spider were ‘cured’ of their fear. They also realized that what they were most afraid of (such as the spider jumping on them or biting them) did not happen.
Sometimes when we take a risk, our worst fear doesn’t happen, and sometimes it DOES happen. I experienced this actually when starting my business. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make enough money. There was definitely a period of a year or so after I burned through all my savings and I was making just enough to get by (barely). I had to move in with parents (I don’t like to share that!!) and get a part-time job. When that passed I think I became a little more cautious, but also I had a new level of confidence— I had been through what I had perceived as the worst probable situation and I had survived. SO, facing our fears can lead to confidence, resilience, and resourcefulness… We don’t know our limits unless we play with the edges of what we think is possible.
I believe we need to begin to see fear for what it is and what it isn’t. Whenever you feel fear, you can ask, “What is fear trying to tell you?” Maybe fear says don’t go in that dark alley. Maybe fear says that it feels vulnerable right now. Maybe fear says you’ve never been here before. Maybe fear says you’re learning something new and it’s wobbly.
Imagine there’s a committee in your mind—each one is a spokesperson for its case. So, there might be a member for fear, hope, doubt, joy, possibility, and contentedness. Each committee member has a perspective…a unique voice. When you hear fear speak, you must remember that it’s not the only perspective. There are other committee members you can interview!
This is an ongoing evolutionary process. We learn overtime to become more and more skillful with the mind and heart. Sometimes we get it wrong and learn from it. Sometimes we get it right and it opens up more freedom in life. I think the key is to view it as a journey, rather than a destination. Something to explore and explore some more :-)
If you want to study this in a group, this weekend I’ll be offering Healing with Emotions, where we’ll play with this concept (and much more!).