We are so afraid of the unknown – pregnancy (or the child birth part), skydiving, driving narrow and winding roads, big promotions, and first days at school, (go ahead and insert your particular fear here). It’s the newness that makes it all feel daunting. It’s the what-if-I-fail, the what-if-this-all-goes-horribly-wrong of it all that gets our hearts racing.
But let’s take a look at that. Fear is defined as an anxious feeling caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.
Did you catch that?
It’s the anticipation of an imagined event or experience. This is important to stop and take in.
Why? Well, when that thing or event is actually happening you are IN it – you’re dealing with it. You’re busy making choices, taking action, and taking charge. You’re tackling the steep, winding road one curve at a time, or you’re getting confirmation that things are okay one OB visit at a time (and even if they’re not, you’re busy learning more about that as it happens). It’s in the taking charge and breathing through the experience, step by step, that you set the 5-alarm-feelings aside. You deal, stay grounded. You grow!
The great news about this is that Fear is just information, then. It’s the story you’re telling yourself about what may happen. That information is useful! It helps you find appropriate resources to deal with whatever is at hand. Fear becomes empowering, even, when we use it as a tool, but it’s not the end of the story.
Interesting note: excitement often shows up with similar characteristics as fear. Increased heart rate, sweaty palms, butterflies in your chest or stomach. When you feel these feelings check in to see how much is fear, and how much is excitement. It’s common that both things are true. And when you acknowledge the fear, it becomes less scary.
There are real benefits to feeling fear and handling it- You will experience more control to move through fear, anxiety, worry. You’ll train your brain to self-soothe and look for the positive in life.
And can I share a little secret? Some of the best moments of your life will come when you experience things that made you scared, you pushed through and you did them anyway. I’m sure you have a list of experiences that did just that, if you take a moment to reflect…
So let’s work on making friends with Fear – because just on the other side of it, you may find lasting, empowering happiness.
Here’s the 4-step road map:
- Fear alerts us to real threats and motivates action. It signals danger, both physical and emotional. When you handle it in a conscious way you recognize the threat and take appropriate, empowered action.
- Fear is a signal you are learning- that you have moved beyond your “comfort zone”, stretching and growing. When you are conscious of this you get to collect all kinds of positive, happy, empowered evidence about yourself, and grow your self-confidence!
- Fear lets you know what is important to you. If you fear losing it (job, relationship, good health), it is worth attending to and taking care of. Take conscious action to invest in that thing you value. Even if it doesn’t work out, you will have no regrets.
- Fear holds creative tension. Fear can appear when you are on the verge of a real “breakthrough!” Often when my clients are in this phase, they have of thoughts of why can’t I get this done? What’s wrong with me? I get to remind them they are just having a growth spurt. Be kind to yourself!
I invite you to see where those 4 steps may hold true with your own fears. See where there’s some misinterpreting going on, where there’s an opportunity to get clear and move beyond, or where your fears may be sending you valuable information – because fear is a powerful tool that can help you carve out an empowered path to happiness.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
– Nelson Mandela