On a daily basis I encounter people who are frozen in fear.
- They want to date but fear getting hurt.
- They long to quit their day job to pursue their passion but fear failure.
- They yearn for connection but fear rejection.
- They want to speak and live their truth, try something different, ask for a raise at work, take the next step in their relationship, go to a movie by themselves, or try a new exercise class but their fear of being embarrassed, what other people might think, judgment, or just plain not being good enough keeps them clinging to their comfort zone, unable to embrace or navigate change.
they remain captive under a dark cloud of always desiring and never doing.
Their fear is insidious. It poisons their joy and becomes the conscious or often unconscious catalyst for self-sabotage and pushing away any potential for success, happiness, or whatever it is that they truly crave. Exhausted by living in and lugging around so much fear, they soon become disgusted with themselves when they realize the impact and cost of their fear on themselves and everyone around them – since not only does our fear affect us but it infects all of our relationships.
Wanting to live in their greatness, they ache to break out of their cage of fear and long to know “How?”
Since we all love a “how to” guide, I decided to share some of the tips I and others have found helpful.
Identify your fear and understand its origin.
Such an incredibly uncomfortable feeling, most of us try to separate or distance ourselves from our fears. Masters at denial, numbing out, and staying busy, we have turned avoidance into an art form. But we can’t heal that which we refuse to look at. So instead of continue to run away from our fear, we need to lean into it and find out what our fear is really about and where it comes from. Personally, I like to give my fear a voice and talk to it. I ask it: “What is going on?” “What is this feeling of being frozen, worried, or insecure really about?”
Viewing my voice of fear as one of my greatest teachers, I continue to invite it to go deeper and show me more.
Chances are you can trace the origins of your fear back to a childhood event – one that you might not even realize had an impact or left an imprint. I can’t tell you the number of times someone realizes that:
- their fear of being alone or that they will have to do it on their own comes from having been left by their parents at some point in their youth,
- their fear of lack comes from their father losing his job or the stories of loss they heard from their parents or grandparents, or
- their fear of never being enough was birthed out of some embarrassing moment that occurred when they were in grade school.
Identifying and looking into our fear, we get to see it from a new vantage point. Understanding where it comes from releases us from its grip.
Bust your fear.
Most of us see our fears as facts. We convince ourselves:
- “If I get a divorce…I will be alone for the rest of my life, my kids will be screwed up, and I will never find love again.”
- “If I say, “No” or set a boundary…people won’t like me, they will think I am mean, I won’t be included.”
- “If I allow myself to love…I will be hurt.”
To get to the other side of your fears, you need to bust through them. You need to separate the facts of the situation from the story you wrap around it. It’s not the facts but the sad stories, negative meanings, and limiting interpretations that we wrap around the facts that keep us frozen in fear. And here’s the thing. All the stories, meanings, and interpretations are all made up…they are False Evidence Appearing Real. So if you want to create a new ending, you need to learn to bust your fears, separate facts from the fiction, and focus on the facts.
Walk yourself through your greatest fears.
Most of us don’t realize how strong and resilient we actually are. We also don’t realize or are quick to forget that on a day-to-day basis, we encounter situations that we never thought we could handle and have made it through. We have:
- had our hearts broken,
- lost loved ones,
- “failed” at new ventures,
- been embarrassed or judged publicly,
and not only have we survived but, in some instances, we are better than we were before.
However, fear is not rational and when we are catapulted into that tidal wave of fear it’s easy to lose our way. That is why it is important to get off the path of pessimism and consciously walk yourself through your greatest fears. Walking yourself through your greatest fears is a process identifying your fear, then playing out the possibility that it actually happened, and asking yourself, “So, then what would I do?”
For example, in my last blog post, I shared I am getting married in April. A few weeks ago, I moved out of my apartment and into my fiancé’s house. Packing all my belongings, thinking about leaving my nest, and having to find all new “go-to” people and places. I kept asking myself, “What are you doing?” “Why are you doing this?” “What if it doesn’t work out?” Since my fears were popping up big time, I literally sat down and walked myself through my fear. What will I do if…my relationship doesn’t work out or if I don’t like living where he lives? I kept walking down the road of “Then what will I do?” and playing out the “worst possible” scenarios. By the end, I got to where I get to every time I do this exercise. The same two things are always apparent:
- I know I will be fine!
- I know whatever is happening, it is because the Universe has other plans for me!
Living with the knowing that if I am brought to it, I will be brought through it dissolves my fears and enables me to embrace change.
- Make the choice to have your greatness be bigger than your fear.
Ultimately our fears are our fears. If we could get rid of them we would. Some fears tend to dissipate with time and consciousness. Others might not. If we could take a magic pill or exorcise them from our body, we would. But just because they are there does not mean they have to be in the driver’s seat! We can choose to live outside of our fears. Very simply, our lives are a reflection of our choices. Realizing that in every moment we have the ability to be guided by faith over fear, to trust over trepidation and decisiveness over doubt, and to makes choices guided by our grandest desires instead of our tendency to play small is our ticket to freedom. Chances are, there are some fears that you might not be able to “get rid of” but you do have the power to make the choices to not let them control and define your life.
So this week, whether it has to do with going to a new exercise class, speaking up at a meeting, asking someone for coffee, or moving to a new city, I invite you join me in breaking out of your cage of fear and allowing your desire for greatness to be bigger than your fear!
Transformational Action Steps
When you are feeling frozen by fear, try:
- Identifying your fear and understanding its origin.
- Busting your fear.
- Walking yourself through your greatest fears.
- Making the choice to have your greatness be bigger than your fear.