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How To make Fear Your Friend

· Fear,Courage

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
Jim Morrison

What are you afraid of?

I put this question to my Facebook connections one morning recently and received a few responses from some brave souls.

Answers varied from a fear of flying, to a fear of rejection, to a fear of death.

I feel fear is inevitable.

 

As long as we have the capacity to think and feel, fear will show up in our lives.

Especially given our mind's number one role is to ensure our survival.

Does this mean we're doomed to live lives dominated by our fears?

Or can we make friends with our fears?

I believe the latter is possible.

Here are 3 principles that have helped me to make friends with fear.

Listen and Love the Fear.

Give your Ear to your Fear.

One of my earliest memories - I must've been about 6 or 7 years old - is waking up from a horrific nightmare where monsters and beasts leapt at me from the shadows of my bedroom. If I remember correctly, about a week earlier, my grandad Mike had allowed me to watch David Bowie's film Labyrinth and let's just say it didn't bode well with my active imagination and sensitive nature.

My body was trembling and tears streamed down my small face as I burst through my parent's bedroom door and leapt up on to the bed.

''What's the matter, William''?, my mother asked me sleepily.

Through sobs and wails, I slowly retold my nightmare to my patient parents.

''It's okay, you're safe now'', I remember my Dad reassuring me.

Within a couple of minutes, my crying had ceased and my breathing had returned to normal.

The simple act of being listened to and reassured had helped.

We have to understand, as adults, our fears still need to be voiced and heard.

Fears surface regularly during my conversations with clients and when it does, we hone in on exactly what the Fear is.

Once we've established what the fear is (often a fear of failure or fear of being rejected) I encourage my clients to love the fear. Love the fear and also love the part of them that's afraid. This is usually an alien idea and a world away from how they usually respond to fear - which is usually to try and ignore it or beat themselves up for feeling afraid.

On the night of my nightmare, I can only imagine how terrified I'd have stayed if my parents had ignored me and slept through my screams. Or how confused I would have felt if they had woken to say ''Stop it, suck it up and stop being afraid''.

Love the fear.

As the Dalai Lama the 16th said when he was asked what he believed love was...

Love is the absence of judgement.

Judgement only adds to the suffering.

When we love our fears and especially the part of us who is afraid we step out of judgement and instead, we become like a loving parent to ourselves. Reassuring and understanding.

Move towards the Fear.

Once you're aware of what the Fear is and if you decide you don't want the fear to run your life, it's time to move towards it.

If you think about, every time we behave in a way which is consistent with the fear, we unconsciously reinforce the idea the fear is genuine.

Let's say Bob is afraid of lifts.

Bob feels fearful when he's in or even close to lifts so he avoids them.

By avoiding Lifts, he feels better. Which unconsciously reinforces the idea that Lifts are dangerous and need to be avoided.

Whatever we fear, if we want to take control of it, we must choose to move towards the fear.

For Bob, he may start small and look at photos or videos of lifts. When this becomes more comfortable, he could then stand outside of lifts and just watch the doors open and close for real. Once this feels comfortable, he would challenge himself to go up one floor in the left. The next week, two floors. You get the picture.

The point is, rather than avoid what we fear and unconsciously reaffirm a story, we need to challenge ourselves and move towards what we fear. Start small and take bigger steps over time.

Here's some great wisdom from Dr Jordan Peterson which really helps in moving forward:

We don't need to become less afraid, we need to become more courageous.

Make a fear an employee, instead of the Boss

Like anything in life, fear isn't purely bad.

Fear can be crippling when it's running the show but it can also be a powerful and useful force in our lives, when we use it correctly.

I suggest thinking of Fear as an Employee, it works for you (instead of it Bossing you about).

When I started to write Becoming Unstuck, I'll be honest with you, fear reared it's ugly head.

I was afraid of the book failing and nobody reading it.

I was afraid of being told it wasn't good enough.

I was afraid of starting and never finishing it.

However.

There was one fear that served me.

I used this fear to motivate me, to spur me into action and continue writing.

The fear of getting to the end of my life, looking back as an old man and wondering...

''What if''?

What if I had written the book?

What if people would have read it and found it valuable?

What if I don't write it and regret it?

For me, this final fear, the fear of regret, felt worse than the imaging pain of failing or being told my book wasn't good enough.

Make Fear an employee.
Use it serve you and scare you into action.

Thank you as always for reading,

With Love,

Will

P.S

If you would value my personal support in helping you to live with more courage and less fear, click the button below to learn how.

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