I don’t know about you, but I like to think that in general, I have a pretty solid idea of who I am, what I stand for, why I do what I do, and the ways I like to live my life. I’ve created home within myself while traveling the world, built my business despite being told it was impossible, and really found the ways to feel as free and confident and adventurous and loveable as everyone else thought that I was.
The thing about all that is, just because I know how to do all that, doesn’t mean I’m fearless. I think a lot of us have this idea that when we ‘fix’ a certain part of our lives, or reach a certain goal or release enough beliefs, that suddenly fear and disappointment and uncertainty will no longer be an issue.
Well, that simply isn’t true. Fear will always be around. And honestly, think about how boring life would be if we really weren’t afraid of anything. There would be no incentive to grow! Which is all well and good, but what about when fear is slowly taking over? How do you recognize it, and what do you do about it?
Check out the video below, where I let you in on a little bit about what’s been going on with me lately, and some thoughts on recognizing fear and moving toward other things instead.
What happens to us when fear starts running the show?
We start making decisions, thinking, and taking actions from a place that lacks trust. There’s this kind of underlying current of anxiety, uncertainty, not really being sure what’s coming next and questioning the faith that usually comes in when that needs to be backed up.
The thing about it is you can be pretty successful while living in fear. You can travel, have relationships, create art, even make a considerable amount of money.
But there’s a difference. Between doing all those things, and really feeling good while you’re doing them. There’s a difference when you are making money because you are panicked over paying your bills vs. when you are making money from a place of wanting to serve people or really doing something that turns you on.
When fear takes over, it’s going to do it’s damndest to lead you back to old habits, thought patterns, and actions that you KNOW aren’t helping you out.
I know you’ve been there before. Asking yourself, “Wait… why am I even eating this food? Why didn’t I go for a walk? Why am I avoiding my friends?”
Whether you have a history of anxiety/depression like I do or not, when fear begins to take over, it can be really easy to isolate and to ignore people reaching out, or be really good at deflecting and assuring people you’re really doing great, even when you’re not. Which of course, is a defense mechanism and an attempt to keep yourself safe (is it working?)
So.. what do you do when fear is in charge?
Step 1: Awareness. (Hint: With me, step 1 is pretty much ALWAYS awareness)
Being aware that fear is the reason you have been reading for 6 hours instead of reaching out to your referrals or working on your painting is a major first step.
Sometimes fear disguises itself as self-care. Way more on that in the coming weeks, but sometimes things I do for self-care (reading a novel, taking a bath, going for a walk, to name a few) are ALSO ways I resist doing what is really going to make me feel good.
So in this sort of case, ask yourself, “Am I doing what I’m doing because it’s caring for myself, or am I doing it out of fear and resistance?” (Don’t argue with me- you know the difference.)
Step 2: Choice
As soon as you become aware of what you’re doing, you have a choice.
Say to fear, to your habit, to your thought process, “I see you. I acknowledge you are here.”
From there, there’s a couple options.
Choice Part A:
You can see that you are doing something, and choose to do it anyway. Eating that whole pint of ice cream, or watching another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (that’s what everyone’s into now these days, right?), or skipping your yoga class.
I’m not going to say this is a bad choice. What I WILL ask you to is to pause, look at how you are being as that choice, and say, “I see you, I understand what you are, and I’m choosing to move forward anyway.”
That way, at least you are consciously choosing resistance instead of unconsciously letting it run your life.
Choice Part B:
The other option is to pause, acknowledge what’s happening, and say, “I have some need that isn’t being met right now, and I need to understand what that is.”
From there, you can ask, “What is the best way that’s going to fulfill this need that doesn’t put me back into this downward spiral or keep me in this place of fear or stuckness?”
Sit with the question, and when the answer shows up, GO DO THAT THING.
Step 3: Why Knowing What Makes You Feel Better Isn’t Enough
In a past life, when I was in a rut, I would have said go to yoga, eat a salad, go out in the sunshine!
Which, are all great things to do. These are some of my go to’s, still. But what happens if you tell yourself that’s what you need and you don’t do it? Or you go and do it, and then come right back to what you were doing before?
It’s a great idea to pattern interrupt. To shut your laptop, or call a friend, or go for a hike. Seriously DO THOSE THINGS that make you feel good and alive as much as you can.
But obviously, if it were that easy, we would just do them and it wouldn’t be a big deal. Understanding deeply why we are afraid and what motivates us is a whole different thing. It requires a process of understanding love, and being patient with yourselves, and taking small steps each day to reprogram our minds and bodies toward trust, freedom, and integrity.
‘Fearless’ Doesn’t Exist.
Living in fear isn’t FUN. There’s not way to just get rid of it– there’s no such thing as fearless.
Fear is a part of being human. It’s always going to show up- there’s no magic solution to get rid of it once and for all.
Sometimes there isn’t really an answer. I want to acknowledge that we all deal with fear every single day. Sometimes we hide out so we don’t have to deal what we are afraid of. Sometimes we face it head on and charge through it. Sometimes we’re in between.
I don’t really have all the answers of how not to live in fear, because it’s always going to be there.
I DO know that it’s important to have an alternative, something we can turn to when fear is taking over.
And, as much as I hate sounding like that crazy gym teacher in Donnie Darko, the best thing I know to turn to is love.
When we know what living in love feels like, it’s a little less scary to deal with fear. And to know what love really feels like, we undergo a process of loving ourselves, accepting ourselves, trusting at least to some degree that the world’s got your back, and knowing that as long as you keep moving forward, you can’t really go wrong.
Get a Result.
The actions we take aren’t always perfect- sometimes we say and do things or don’t say and do things that lead us to a result we aren’t wanting. but at least it’s a result. From a result, you can adjust your course.
Living in fear means living completely stuck. It’s taking no action because you’re afraid of any action.
The question/challenge/mission for you is, what do you need to do to love toward love? Who do you need to be to continue to take action? What result are you looking for, and how can you experiment to find it right now?