Not being brave, or of being timid; violence or being dismissed, ignored or laughed at. Being seen as of little worth or not interesting to those you want to like you. What about fear of being invisible or being alone, judged as a bad parent? Or in your profession being considered lazy, unmotivated or too ambitious and pushy. Do you fear change, maybe you dream of success but are afraid of what will happen if your dream comes true.
Do you recognize yourself in any of the fears above? How and where does fear play in your life? When I looked up the word ‘fear’, I was amazed to discover that there really isn’t an agreed upon consensus in the scientific field about fear! It’s actually quite difficult to find a clear definition, but for me, this is the best: ‘Fear is an alert of a threat in the present, however many times there is no such danger, it’s a creation of our imagination’.
Another great description, and I’m sorry I can’t remember where I read it (Medium?): ‘Fear is like a battle taking place in your mind – mastering fear is about identifying and changing the conversation in your head!’
How does fear show up?
Fear can be felt both physically and emotionally: sweaty palms, faster heartbeat, panic, hopelessness, powerlessness. Fear can debilitate us, freeze us up. It can stop us moving forward, from taking, even calculated, risks and even allow us to stay in dangerous situations. It adds stress to our day, and can negatively affect our health.
Everyone has felt afraid and some of us like fear, in controlled circumstances, such as horror movies or certain theme park rides. While we may feel frightened our subconscious understands that this is controlled, we’ll be okay. I remember growing up and going to see a movie with my siblings, in a place where there were no ratings on a film. While the older siblings understood it was a horror movie, my younger brother didn’t, In the middle of the film he ran out of the theatre screaming in fright. He didn’t understand that we were safe, this was a film. We all had to leave. A lesson learned for my dad.
So how can we move from fear into action?
Here are some ideas to put into action:
- Stay present – don’t move into ‘monkey-mind’, allowing your brain to immediately imagine the worst, begin to panic and build on thoughts until you’re paralyzed. If you feel yourself moving into monkey-mind or anxiety, stay aware and remain grounded, yes things could go wrong, and you will deal with them then
- Be prepared – if you are prepared, really prepared, then build that preparation into confidence, list the tasks you need to do and tick them off as they are completed. Think about the ‘what ifs’ and address them one by one. If it’s a presentation – what are the questions that may be asked afterward, if it’s an event you’re organizing – what are the key areas that you are responsible for and build an event checklist – check it twice
- Talk to someone about your fears – talking to a friend, family member or colleague about what is causing us fear can really help alleviate anxiety. It really can lessen the power this fear has over you
- Try mindful breathing – when feeling anxious or stressed try focusing on your breath. Don’t force it or control it, just observe how you’re breathing. By observing your breath, you’re taking your mind off whatever is bothering you, which will allow you to think more coherently about the issue that is causing you problems, and give you courage to move forward
- Once you feel calm, think about what it is that you’re really afraid of? What is this fear trying to tell you? In her book ‘Take back Control of your Life’ Mel Robbins talks about dancing with fear – speaking your fears aloud, noticing what happens to your body, where do you feel the fear and what is the sensation?
In addition in my research I came across this great article from Josh Steimle.
What is Fear?
Fear is a protective mechanism our minds use when it perceives we are in danger. It doesn’t distinguish between physical or emotional danger, rather it was developed when our ancestors needed it to survive. Today we live in a different world, our fears are different from those of our ancestors and many of them take place in our mind, that inner voice that tells us ‘we can’t’, it stops us from succeeding and reaching our dreams. Often our fears are based on negative thoughts – we can’t, we don’t know how, people will laugh at me, they’ll judge me and so on.
We all have fears – for me there is the fear of failure, of swimming in the sea and all those strange fishes swimming with me (ugh!). Public speaking, yep even though I do speak a lot, I still find fears arising, that little voice that says ‘what were you thinking?’
What are your fears?
What are the fears that you have? Are you able to recognize and work through them as they arise? Do you need help in conquering them? Contact us for a complimentary coaching session, and let’s see how we can partner together to help you move forward in your life.