Got some Fear? Monsters under the bed (or in Your head)? Just so you don’t feel alone, so do I! As a matter of a fact, as humans we all have fears! That is just part of the package. The question is: Are they hindering or downright blocking our Freedom and if so to what degree? The sooner that we are straight about that with ourselves and deal with it the faster we get our Freedom back!
What I do know, after working with thousands of people in my life, is that FEAR brings on the BIG 3 Ss for us. It: Slows Us Down, Stops Us &/or Sabotages Us. None of these provides us with much Freedom!
If I look at the multitude of things, we can be afraid of it seems infinite. Karl Albrecht Ph.D. has defined 5 Categories of Fear which he says we all share. Here are Dr. Albrecht’s 5 Biggies:
- Extinction—The fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just “fear of death.” The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans.
- Mutilation—The fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. This can include fear of heights, spiders, animals.
- Loss of Autonomy—The fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. This could include fear of commitment.
- Separation—The fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. This could include any relationship even in a work context.
- Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
As I read through his list, I could see how almost any fear I have come up with, so far, will fit under one of these categories. The one Fear I see missing is some grand fear that I would describe as THE FEAR OF FEAR ITSELF! I can also see how fear can be what is hiding underneath, as the source of, so many other emotions like jealousy, anger, shame, guilt, etc.
DISCLAIMER NOTE: I am not here to pretend to be a scientist or an intellectual expert in fear. I am simply here to talk about moving beyond it. There are others you can definitely turn to for a more in depth, complex and/or scientific view and neuroscience constantly provides us with more working knowledge on how our nervous systems (including, of course, our brains) handle fear.
Ultimately … the question is do we have fears or do fears have us? To be human, I think, is to have fears. Unfortunately, if we don’t acknowledge them and dig beneath them to deal with them, then they have us. That is when they, through the brain patterns they create and the associated physiological responses, perform what I the 3Ss (Slow Us Down, Stop Us &/or Sabotage Us).
Part of moving our obstructions to Freedom can include utilizing our fears to help us uncover some of what constrains us. Our fears can become a flashlight pointing a light beam on those things that, way in the background, hidden deep under the surface, limits our current and future life.
You know the things you have avoided, backed off from and procrastinated with … some of them for years (if not decades). Those are the indicators that fear has you vs. the other way around. You have visions of a life that looks different but somehow it keeps looking the same because of those fears. How many times have you wanted something really badly and let fear get in your way instead? Do you want to keep doing that?
Unfortunately, we humans, it seems, would rather feel “safe” than take the uncertain “risks” involved to fulfill on our dreams and be Freed up and happy. The funny thing about “being safe” is that is an illusion just like most of the things we fear! Life is filled with uncertainty. We may really lose our job or a big client, there might really be an economic down swing, someone might really leave us, we might actually have to deal with health issues and at some point we really will leave these bodies … no matter how safe (and therefore small) we play.
The concept of safety is created by our minds so that we don’t walk around freaked out all the time, however, there really is no certainty. We just stay stuck, constrained and our lives are limited, all in the name of being “safe”. We may not even think of it that way … but if we back off from something then we are telling ourselves that rather than face the risk of uncertainty we are better off right where we are coz well … at least we know what this looks like.
Notice that our brain patterns do not give us any picture of the uncertainty turning out “good” … instead they dig into our past and pulls out the worst case scenarios and paints a picture of what is on the other side of the risk as a horribly frightening inevitability.
Now that is ALL great … you can categorize your fears and get real about your fears to see what is constraining you … but … how do we move beyond our fears so we can be Freed up? The bottom line is that there is no magic pill! It takes conscious work over a period of time! It requires Intention, Discipline, Action! AND IT IS WORTH IT … well … that is IF you want the Freedom to expand your life the way you deserve to!
So, here are 6 FEAR BUSTER moves that should get you started, based on my years of helping people move through Fear and into Freedom:
What is in our head is a factor of brain patterns. What is in our head is NOT REAL. No matter how real it “feels” it is a sequence of patterns created from the past which project fear out into the future. Unless dealt with, these patterns simply repeat themselves over and over. External physical stimulus or not (making that speech, talking to someone new, trying something new, being “vulnerable” in any way, etc. is no different than a tiger standing in front of us), all of our human elements get involved in fear including physical reactions, emotions, feelings and thoughts.
It is a cycle. It becomes a game of rinse and repeat that reinforces itself. It becomes addictive, habitual and automatic on multiple levels. Once the cycle is in play then the brain patterns and the chemical reactions hook us in and … Away we go.
All of that will, of course, impact how you act. You pull back, you avoid, you procrastinate. You know, to some degree at least, that you are doing that, so now the fear and connected stress increases as you not only deal with the fear, but you also begin to make yourself wrong for not conquering the fear.
IF you can just stop for a moment can begin to “see” the patterns that are the culprits and distance/separate yourself from them for a minute, then you can do a reality check. This is that kind of separating where you can get that YOU are not your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, your body chemicals …. your fears … YOU are observing an experience of fear created by the patterns (like watching a movie).
Question time: Is anything horrible really happening right NOW? Where is this fear coming from and what is the fear based on from your past? What is the worst thing that could happen (WITWTCH) if you do whatever it is vs. being stopped by the fear? What is the BEST thing that could happen? What is the worst thing that could happen if you DON’T do what you dream of doing? Getting some clarity helps break through all the delusions. Often times when we stop and get real we see that the drama of the perceived fear is MUCH bigger than what is going on in reality.
Believe in YOU
We ALL have strengths. In the face of fear, we forget them all. Let’s Get Real for a second … if you are reading this you have accomplished things that have gotten you this far in life. Shut up the little critic for a moment. You have overcome adversity and you are still here. You have accomplished things and you are still here. You have dealt with a multitude of situations and people (some perhaps quite horrible) and you are still here. You probably have even lost things and people along the way, and you are still here!
We can add it all up as a big warning sign to shut down, stay under the radar, cut our loses where we are and only look at what losers we were (coz in some way we secretly blame ourselves for everything that happened to us vs. being responsible … but that is a whole other blog post) and assure ourselves that we will NEVER EVER risk that, or anything vaguely like that, again. Or we can get that we actually quiet resilient and that ARE STILL HERE!
What is missing here? One of the key things is our belief in ourselves and our confidence! What does that lead to? In the long run it leads to us not honoring ourselves and acknowledging who we really are. Make no mistake about it … moving in spite of fear is an act of SELF-love no matter how much your brain tells you that the self-love is in preserving yourself from that which you fear at any cost.
Don’t be Attached to the Outcome
We make up that things MUST look a certain way and if we fear we can’t have that specific outcome then we back off. It is a trap. Expectations are a complete set-up for failure. Now this may sound contradictory to me telling you to follow your dreams, but it isn’t. Remember, life has twists and turns. There are NO guarantees. Along the way things may shift. But if we are willing to go for it we get to discover things along the way.
The big problem is telling ourselves that if we CAN’T have a guarantee to have that exact outcome then it keeps us from taking the first step to even explore. So often whatever we tell ourselves we really want isn’t even what we find out we want. In hindsight, I have a list as long as I am tall, of things that turned out differently than I thought I wanted but each thing led me to something that was so much better, in the long run. The trick was that I went for it and gave it my 1000% and then allowed for shifts along the way.
However, if we are so attached to a certain outcome and fear not being able to have it OR what we may have to do or not do to have it OR fear who we might become if we do or don’t accomplish it … then, we are stuck. In that process we actually choose to stay stuck vs the unfamiliarity or perhaps even discomfort of what seems uncertain.
Get Curious & Creative
I love What IF games. What IF I do this? What IF I try that? What IF? I don’t wait for my old fear-based brain patterns to spit out a series of negative answers. I just use the What IF as fuel to propel myself forward. It feeds my curiosity and my creativity. We can’t be in fear and curiosity/creativity at the same time. They just don’t exist in the same world. Fear shuts you down. Curiosity/Creativity opens you up.
When you were a kid … before some of those things happened to you or were taught to you to have you be afraid … YOU were curious. You tried things and created things and used your imagination for exciting things. It was fun. It was a game. You stumbled, you fell, you made mistakes, you laughed, and you kept at it or came at it from a new angle.
As an adult we replace curiosity with caution, constraints and fear. Instead of using our imagination for exciting things we listen to our brain patterns. We are what we think. Our thoughts create our world. Child/Beginner’s mind is the mind-space of creating something NEW. It may take practice. The exciting thing is that the more you practice curiosity and creativity the more curious and creative you become. The other great thing is in any moment you are being curious and creative you are NOT focusing on your fear. What IF?
Keep your BIG WHY Present
Sounds like a lot of work to move through and beyond fear? Yep, it will take some work for sure. So why bother?
Let’s think about it. Imagine your life without fear stopping you. What would you be doing? What would your life look like? Play that scenario out for a little bit. Imagine it. What does it feel like? What does it look like? What does it sound like? Get it real and vivid for yourself. What possible way COULD it be if you had no fear and it all turned out?
Write it down. Describe it into an audio recording or video recording. Don’t want to or somehow can’t do any of that … well then make a little video clip in your mind of it. That is your BIG WHY. That view of life FREED up and beyond the fear … that is WHY you would do the work it takes!
When you don’t want to take an action or the fear surfaces … read it back to yourself, listen to your audio recording, watch your video recording or simply turn on that imaginary video clip in your head. The point is to vividly remind yourself WHY you are working through the fear.
Get Into Action
One of the sure-fire ways to move past fear is to be in action. Since fear shuts us down then we need to get in action. Sitting around hoping courage or confidence is going to suddenly plop down on you is not the thing to do. It won’t happen that way. Every day that you avoid something because of fear the fear wins. It doesn’t dissipate. It gets more entrenched. The key is to TAKE AN ACTION. It doesn’t have to be a BIG action (although it could be). Any action is an action. Then, take another action. With each action we see a RESULT.
Like the result of your action: Good. Congratulate yourself and use that experience of accomplishment to build courage and confidence to take that action again or the next action.
Don’t like the result of your action: Good. What can you learn from it? What do you need to do differently? Congratulate yourself on taking the action no matter what – you still took the action – and again use the accomplishment of taking the action to build the courage and confidence to either take that action again or take the next new action based on what you learned.
1) Act. 2) Learn. 3) Pat yourself on the back. 1) Act. 2) Learn. 3) Pat yourself on the back. That is the 3-step process that will keep moving you through the fear and be the beginning of accomplishing things your fear-based patterns said you couldn’t and warned you from. Patting yourself on the back, BTW, is KEY in this process. No matter what the result is you need to pat yourself on the back for taking the action regardless of the fear. That is the step that reinforces taking the actions in the face of the fear.
Now, I don’t pretend that these 6 FEAR BUSTER moves will be all you need, and they might be. Each of us is unique. You may need and want to find other ways to go inward and even seek help if you need it. There are irrational fears and phobias that we may not be able to completely move ourselves. There are also more complex conditions that I think definitely require some outside professional help such as PTSD (which centers around having directly experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, involving intense fear and threat of bodily injury or death).
Many people have used multiple disciplines to help come face-to-face with and reduce fear.
Some of the things that have worked for people are: Art, Journal-ing, Meditation. Yoga, EFT, etc. When it comes to working with others there are modalities such as: Coaching, Therapy, NLP, Hypnosis and various forms of Energy work.
Each methodology will provide different kinds of results and some may be more productive than others for specific fears. As always, the results will depend on 1) the experience of the practitioner, if you work with someone else and 2) your commitment and willingness to do the work and let go of the fear.
Fear and Risk exists for all of us and in all of our lives. Having no fear, even if we could accomplish that, might lead to a really reckless life. But we can learn to discern the differences between the fear we need to pay attention to and the fear that you don’t need to. One thing for sure is that letting fear run us will never allow us to be anything other than a victim to it. Being Free has a direct correlation our commitment to that Freedom and being willing do what it takes.
For me … I continue to spot any fear that shows up and deal with it. I am committed that on my last few moments in this body I won’t be dealing with regrets from having let fear stop me. I am committed to going out as Free as I came in and to have had as much Freedom as possible along the way! How about YOU?
Please feel free to share or ask questions or give feedback! I absolutely love the thought of hearing from YOU! I think of these blog posts as a way to connect and share with YOU and I LOVE when you connect and share back with me!