There is an interesting paradox with fear –
We are often able to step up to life’s critical moments – during a life altering crisis we are deep in the moment, no option but to trust our primal abilities. Compare this to small changes and new things, where we have time to think and worry.
All fear has the same root –
There’s a potentially bad situation and fear says, “hey, you need to change or avoid this.” However, most of our fears are not based on actual problems. Most fears arise from worrying about change. Unchecked, our thoughts can repeat and mutate to the point where we can come to fear almost anything.
Mistakenly, we think we are helping ourselves by worrying – as if we are strategizing ways to protect ourselves- when in reality we are spending tons of time stressed about potential problems that will never happen or stressing about things that WILL inevitably happen that we have no control over.
When fear kicks in, we are hard wired to avoid the potential threat at all costs, even it the perceived threat is simply a challenge, or something that may actually be good for ourselves and others. From here it’s easy to think maybe it will be best to avoid change all together. But avoiding change is impossible, so we are back to worrying again!
You can interrupt this process with two simple steps to eliminating fear –
First, practice feeling your fear physically for a minute or two – literally 60-120 seconds. Fear is actual physical sensations in the body – discomfort in the stomach, shallow breathing, tightness in certain muscles, sweaty palms, etc. When we give ourselves permission to feel these sensations, they spike then dissipate quickly, similar to opening a can of soda. Remember, we are not talking about indulging in fearful thoughts, we are talking about focusing on the physical sensations associated with fear, and allowing them to release.
Second, what if we changed the focus of our thoughts? What if we directed our thoughts towards all the things that can go right from addressing this challenge? We can imagine the life lessons we can learn, and how we can grow from this situation. We can ponder the benefits, the amazing opportunities, and the learning that will come from this. When we re-direct our focus and see the truth of the benefits that lie ahead, we no longer have to fight our fears or run from them, we simply take a different path and our fears, as if by magic, fade away.
Moving From Fear to Growth
By practicing these two steps, we mirror the naturally skilled way we respond to a true crisis. From here there is deep presence, accepting, and knowing that in the face of every fear there is an opportunity for growth.
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