Has fear ever stopped you from doing what you want to do, or being who you really want to be? Do you find that sometimes you start out with good intentions to make a significant change in your life, but part-way through, the voice in your head pulls you back into your default way of thinking and doing – and you make little or no progress at all? In fact you may even feel you’ve gone backwards instead of forwards?
Fear of failure or fear of the unknown can close us down and have the effect of making our world seem smaller, less vibrant and less creative. We may even start to feel isolated… If fear or anxiety has become so overwhelming that it impacts your daily life and stops you from enjoying every-day activities, then it is indeed time to make some changes. So what to do?
Take some time to consider the words written below by Joy Cowley, a New Zealand author:
Love always calls us to a larger place.
Fear always tries to draw us back to a narrow place.
Love has a quiet soft voice.
Fear had a loud strident voice.
Love is compassionate.
Fear is judgemental.
Love is a slow feeling, a movement of the heart.
Fear comes quickly as strident thought.
Love opens me up like a flower.
Fear closes me down.
Love is my spiritual truth.
Fear belongs to my animal instinct for survival.
Are there any particular lines that hold special meaning for you? I propose that the fear you feel, began as an innocent protection device that you once used as a mild caution; that when something specific happened it reminded you to react in a certain way to protect yourself from being hurt. But somewhere along the way, fear has become your dominant response; and now any unpleasant thought or action triggers a full fear reaction – and you find yourself caught in a cycle where fear or anxiety is now ruling your life.
Have you have heard the phrase: “Feel the fear and do it anyway!” This is a call to acknowledge the fear – name the specific fear you feel; feel what effect it has in your body, then practice deep breathing techniques to help control and reduce your fear responses. Describe your fear, give it a name and voice your fear out loud and start to notice that as soon as you give it a voice that the feeling starts to diminish – although at first it might only be by a small amount.
Treat your fear as an occasional visitor, understand and try to accept that fear may visit regularly and you need to deal with it when it does. Giving your fear a name or voice and seeing it as apart from yourself allows you to put some distance between yourself and the fear. Already the fear is starting to loss its power. It is no longer your fear, but the fear. You no longer own the fear, you are not the fear you feel. Practice sitting with the fear, check in with yourself and ask how you’re doing, listen for an answer. Acknowledge that the fears exists but know that you are not defined by it – fear is just an emotion; emotions are created by your own thoughts; and your thoughts are not real. Discern the difference between the story you have created and the facts of the matter. Most thoughts are a story you tell yourself, and at any time you have the power to choose to believe your thoughts or not.
There is another phrase: “Get out of your head and stop thinking so much!” This is a call to acknowledge that you may be prone to overthinking situations, and creating stories about what could or should happen – rather than just letting whatever will be, be. It’s also a call to become more present, to see what is actually right in front of you rather than dwelling in your head and listening to all the thoughts about the matter instead. Trust that whatever happens is probably out of your ability to control the outcome; therefore you only need deal with a situation if and when it develops. Taking life as it comes is truly a much less stressful way of living.
Meditation is a tool that can help many people become aware of their internal self-talk – especially to notice that the stream of thoughts that we all have can be watched; and that often by doing so, the thoughts slowly begin to lose their power. Spaces between the thoughts are created, and this is where peace and a sense of calm have a chance to grow.
The purpose of meditation is not to stop thinking, but instead it is to observe your thoughts; and to become aware of what is happening right now, at this present moment. Meditation can be as simple as a 3 second pause, where you stop your activity and take notice of your surroundings while taking 3 deep, slow breaths. The more often you take time for these ‘Pauses’ in your day, the more space you start to create and you’ll start to find that the feelings of fear or anxiety will slowly become replaced by feelings of peace instead.
If you want some help to find your courage to help tame your fears, then give me a call!