So, the other day I was walking home from town along side the Monkey Forest (yes, I live near a forest filled with monkeys), and much to my surprise one of the larger (read: scarier) monkeys decided to jump on my front and hold on, while baring his teeth and hissing at me.
And that’s the least uncomfortable thing that’s happened to me since I got to Bali.
Last week we talked about why it’s important to get uncomfortable on purpose and face your fears head on.
And now it’s time to get even more clear on how fear shows up for you.
What your fear and your best friend have in common
Now, most of us probably don’t associate being afraid with our best friends. (And if you do, get a new best friend! No, seriously- no matter what she led you to believe, you aren’t supposed to want to run away every time you see her coming.)
It’s far more likely you see fear as something to be avoided at all costs. I know I used to feel that way!
But then I learned why fear is my best friend.
Like your best friend, fear will…
- Call you out when something is out of alignment with who you are
- Push you to be a better version of yourself
- Always be there when you need to speak up or do something courageous
- Want you to be safe and alive
As my friend Hayley says,
“When we feel afraid, I believe there is something on the other side of that fear that we deserve to have.”
Fear shows up when something isn’t right. Sometimes that is a straight up dangerous situation. A lot of the time, fear shows up when we are outgrowing the current version of ourselves.
Most of us don’t know how we react to fear until we are afraid. We have a hard time recognizing opportunities to speak our truth and communicate with love because fear puts us in victim and survival mode.
This week you are going to discover exactly what fear feels like for you, so you can recognize it when it shows up, establish a great BFF relationship with it, and use it as a tool to get you where you are going!
PS: Awkward camera angle, right?
Knowing Your Fear Exercise
Adapted from the book Flow: An Illuminated Training Manual by Steven Budden
- Come into the present moment
Get Comfortable – Sit tall (or layn down), take a deep breath & close your eyes
Turn your focus inward, becoming aware of your breathing, your body, your current state of being
- Call your fear to mind
Remember a time- a situation, an experience, a memory of a time you were afraid
It’s okay to feel strong waves of emotion- picture all the details so that it feels real
- Notice where you feel your fear
You might feel it in your heart, your chest, your throat, the pit of your stomach, tense shoulders
It might feel like energy gathering, or tightness and constriction, tenseness
- Keep breathing and feeling
As best as you can, don’t freeze or try and shut it out- allow sensation to amplify
- Separate the story from the feeling
A lot of times we get stuck in the story of what triggers our fear. See if you can begin to purely feel the physical and energetic sensations. Describe and recognize these physical sensations to yourself, apart from the stories we attach to.
- Shake it out!!!!!
aaaaaand release! Move your body around, shake it out, release that fear energy!
Why did we do that????
I know right? Why would we voluntarily go to that space? Is that crazy?
On a physiological level, that right there is as bad as it gets.
Most of us fear that feeling- the physical sensation of fear, more than what we are actually afraid of.
We run away from the feeling because it’s scary, uncomfortable, we don’t like it.
But if we keep running away and not feeling the sensation, we can never move past it.
Doing this exercise is a way to learn to be in your fear.
To be in your body and breathe through it, even if what you want to do is shut down, turn away, and shove it aside.
All fear is is a physical sensation in the body that we attach stories and feelings and experiences to.
As we learn to detach the stories, we can start to learn to let them pass. To let the sensations go and come to the OTHER side of our fear.
The more you practice this, the more quickly you’ll be able to sense fear in your life. The more quickly you can acknowledge it, the faster you can move beyond it.
The other thing is, when you know what fear feels like, you can choose to release it from your body. When we hide from our fear and push it down, it gets stored in our cells to be dealt with at a later date. We literally carry our fear around with us in our bodies. So when you do this exercise and apply it to your life, not only are you getting better at facing your fears, you are actually keeping yourself healthy and vibrant at a cellular level. WIN.
What to do when fear arises
Next time fear comes up, recall this exercise. Since you’ve been practicing (right) you’ll feel it pretty much right away. Keep breathing, you know what happens, what this feels like, where it goes.
Since you are able to catch your fear before spiraling way out there into victim mode, you now have a choice.
You can give in to your fear, and let it take you down familiar roads.
Or, you can simply thank it, acknowledge it for showing up, for showing you a signal that there is something worthwhile on the other side. You can consider the feelings, breathe through them, and let them know thank you but I am proceeding anyway.
From there, we can start to move PAST our fears more and more quickly, and start to enjoy all the benefits of what’s on the other side even more.