3 Tips to Work Through Your Fears
“We are all museums of fear” Charles Bukowski
We all have fears – fact. As spiritual or enlightened we may pertain to be, we are still human, and all human beings exist with their own intricate wave of fears. Fears keep us real because it is natural to be afraid. We are comfort-seeking creatures after all, and so anything that risks that sense of comfort and security is bound to ring alarm bells through our mind.
The trouble is, we have become fearful of fear. This means that rather than facing up to our fears and finding a way to move past them, we end up avoiding them or pretending they do not exist. And this is the biggest stumbling block to overcoming our fears.
We are born with a supremely strong survival instinct. If we think of it in terms of our physical body, the stress hormone Cortisol governs our “fight, flight, or freeze” response to danger. In times of perceived danger, Cortisol kicks into action, spikes up our heart rate, and sends us into an anxiety overdrive. Is the danger real though? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. And yet just the thought of danger will significantly impact our behaviour. This survival instinct is the basis of fear and so we cannot dismiss it or pretend we do not feel fear.
We grow and evolve in spite of our fears not when we are in denial of them. Here are 3 tips to help you work through your fears.
1. Understanding your fears
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less” – Marie Curie
The first step to working through your fears is to accept them. You cannot overcome something that you cannot first accept. As long as you try to hide or bury your fears (to others and to yourself) they will continue to grow and deeply impact your life. We should not fear fear. Our fears simply direct us to something within that we need to consciously work through so that we may transcend limiting beliefs and perceptions. Fears need to be picked apart a little and the only way to do that is by taking time to self-reflect and enhance your muscle of self awareness. Sometimes just sharing your fears and concerns with someone you trust can help immensely. You are no less of a person for having fear, but you will be a far greater version of yourself for overcoming it.
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” – Seneca
Overthinking creates further anxiety and inevitably feeds whatever fear you may have. Our minds are wonderful tools but they can send us into panic mode at the whim of a passing thought. If that passing thought builds up a residency in your mind-space, it will grow if you continue to focus upon it. More often than not, the reality is never as painful as the thought. The “doing” is rarely as scary as the thought of “doing”. If you find yourself overthinking, try to distract yourself with something that touches you back to your heart-space. This may be going to a fitness class, going for a run, reading a book or some poetry, or creating some art. Feel more, think less! Focus on the present time and what is in the “now” as much as you can. There are many mindfulness techniques and therapies that can help you to relax and calm an overactive mind.
“Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.” – Rudyard Kipling
Fears rarely speak the truth. Fears exist to keep us safe and secure but they can freeze us through inaction. Sometimes the only way to move past your fear is to do the thing you feel you cannot do. Of course, weigh up the pros and cons and use your intuitive intelligence that is guided by your heart and soul. Then take action. And if you fail, what of it? At least you can walk away knowing that you tried, or you will build up a sense of resiliency so that you may try again. Giving yourself a chance is the most important thing you can do. Remember that nothing is fixed; there is not much in life that comes with a fail-safe or a guarantee. But if you never try, you will never know. And you deserve something greater than a falsity or a lie that hinders your movement forward. Ultimately, there is a risk involved in the potential or possibility of any reward.
Don’t be afraid to dig deep and do the inner work. As you work through your fears you will understand yourself better and become a more compassionate being through it all. Baby steps forward…. one at a time.
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” – Helen Keller
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