How do you handle fear? I’m not talking about the roller-coaster type of fear that leaves you craving more. I am talking about the “What if…” type of fear that shows up unexpectedly. You know the feeling. Everything is going right in your life-work is steady, your relationships are fulfilling, your kids are doing well and then this small whisper snags your attention and a rush of fear kicks in. The next thing you know you are on the worry train worrying about the “What if’s…” and all of that joy you were just feeling has vanished. You are lost in the future and now your heart is racing. That’s fear.
Fear can feel debilitating. Fear often limits our minds and immediately takes us out of the present moment when just two minutes ago we were experiencing contentment. What just happened?
Fear is the central nervous system’s way of alerting us that something is wrong. It signals us to pay close attention to how we are feeling in that moment. So why does it sometimes show up in moments where we are feeling safe, calm, and at ease?
In her book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” Dr. Susan Jeffers states, “If everybody feels fear when approaching something totally new in life-yet so many are out there doing it despite the fear-then we must conclude that fear is not the problem.” She later states it is not the fear, but how we hold the fear.
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What if, instead of allowing the fear to run its course and it holding us, we recognized the fear-based thought(s), took a deep breath, and reminded ourselves that it’s just our fear talking? It’s much more powerful if we take a step back from running these fearful situations over and over in our minds and instead choose to love ourselves through the fear. So, how do you take a step back in those “What if” moments? It takes practice and showering yourself with grace.
1. Notice Your Thoughts
Notice what you are thinking and how those thoughts make you feel. A lot of times, under the thoughts, we usually feel afraid, unsafe, uneasy, or overwhelmed. That’s okay, just notice your thoughts about how you are feeling.
2. Breathe Into the Present Moment
Take a deep slow breath in and slowly exhale. If you can count to five on each inhale and exhale that will help to regulate your central nervous system and help you to relax in the moment. If you are sitting, feel your feet on the floor and feel what your body is resting against.
3. Choosing Love Over Fear
Remembering the negative thoughts that evoked fear earlier, begin by asking yourself, “Is this true?” By asking yourself a question it begins to pull you out of fear and back into the moment. If that question seems to evoke more negative thoughts, you could also pray. Prayer is a very powerful tool in neutralizing any negative thoughts. Another way is to say a positive affirmation to help you release your fear. A few to try are:
- I am willing to release my fears
- I release these negative thoughts with ease and trust the process of life.
- I accept myself and create peace in my mind and heart.
Lastly, I leave you with a favorite quote of mine and in my next blog I will examine how often times fear triggers self-doubt and how to navigate those feelings.
In Marianne Williamson’s book, “A Return to Love” she says: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”