A personal story + 6 tips for working WITH your fear. You got this.
Sometimes you can't change the fact that life gets scary. Lets say you're facing some major health issues, or you've just received some really bad news, or you're just seriously struggling in another area of your life. It happens to all of us and I want you to know you're not alone in this. In fact, I want you to know that your fear contains a very powerful message and that it's very possible to work together WITH your fear instead of fighting it, which lets be frank, is usually our first reaction to it.
Robert Frost wrote the famous words: "The only way out is through."
What if this applies to your fear as well? What if we learn to look at fear as a means to connect to our intuition, to heal and to move forward? Lets start by realising fear is a very normal emotion that we ALL face. No one is fearless. Keep that in mind next time you beat yourself up about being scared.
Anyone dealing with a long term threatening illness (myself included) can tell you that living with fear is an ongoing practice. An ever evolving, never ending dance that at times is just downright hard to move through. Let me be honest here, I'm still working on it. Okay so now that we got that covered lets look at some ways to help you ride that good old nasty fear wave when it's threatening to drown you. Because I have found that there is a lot we can learn from fear and there are some basic strategies that can smoothen the journey.
1. Sit with it
Switch off your phone. Cancel all social calls. Time to pause and literally sit with yourself. On your meditation pillow, in the woods or on a chair. Instead of distracting yourself or denying your fear the space it is asking for, try and invite it in like a guest in your house. Offer it a seat and ask "hello fear, what can I do for you today?" "Shall we just sit here together and see what it is you're trying to tell me?"
Boom. Instant game changer. I'm not saying it immediately disappears but you can be assured fear really appreciates being heard and seen. Simply because you're acknowledging its existence. Hurrah, you're now ready for the next step!
2. Identify the message
This step requires you to listen with an open mind and open heart. Could fear be telling you something you've been avoiding to pay attention to? Are you feeling that weird, butterfly like overwhelming sensation in your gut and in your tummy? Breathe, slowly and deeply and don't stop breathing. Sit through the uncomfortableness, a little bit longer than you'd like. I know, you want to get up and run. But lets just keep breathing. Tears might come, let them come. Judgement, doubt or overwhelm may follow. Let them follow. Listen. Let fear speak and ask of it to convey its message to you in a calm coherent way. Show it respect, show it compassion and show it kindness. Then listen some more.
3. Reality versus fantasy check
Now you're ready to filter fears message. Because more often than not, fear announces itself in a very primal way. Like a really scary 5 year desperately seeing to be soothed. HEELPP MEEEEE!!! Now that you have sat with your fear and given it space and time, it's time for the grown up in you to step up. Is the fear message in question destructive or constructive? Am I in an immediate threat and do I need to take immediate action (which I'd recommend if a lion is running towards you) or can I find a way to soothe the scary 5 year old in me with positive affirmations such as: "you're going to be ok. I am here for you. I am strong and we'll get through this. Whatever it is, we'll get through this".
4. Keep it simple, specific and name it for what it is.
Ah, good. We're at stage four now. Almost there. You're doing great...Did I remind you to keep breathing deeply? Right, ok, now you've gone through the hysterical scary part. You've identified false from true. You know what areas need action from your part and what areas need you to let go of. You've shown fear some compassion and kindness. Now you can name what your fear is about. Keep it simple and specific. I am scared about.....
5. Share it with your loved ones
This step doesn't mean fear has magically disappeared. It might still be there, though hopefully a little less overwhelming already. Now this stage is particularly important when the root of your fear is not something that can necessarily be fixed or solved. This is where you get to share the load a little and reach out to people you trust and feel safe with. Call a friend, cry, tell them honestly how you're doing and how your old friend fear has paid you a visit. Tell them what message it had for you and what you've learned from it. Maybe it's asking you to let go. Maybe it's holding up a mirror of truth. Maybe it's telling you you've been pushing and pulling too hard on yourself. Whatever it is that came up for you, it can be such a relief to share this with your loved ones. It truly deepens your relationship and reminds you you're NOT ALONE. Share the load people.
6. Move your body
Take it from the animal kingdom. After they've faced fear or threat they literally shake it off. They shake and move their bodies to get rid of the stress that got stuck. Time to get off the pillow and step back into the world. This is where you get to move, walk, stretch, dance. Whatever works for you. Step out into the world and move however possible. Go into nature, breathe in fresh air. You want to avoid staying stuck or sulking too long. Life is too darn short people!
Ofcourse you don't have to go through the above steps in the same day. It can take a few days to go full circle. So be patient with yourself:-)
Here's a little peek of what my personal fear ride looked like this week:
"I've launched a business. I've launched my own business. What on earth have I done? I can't do this. Who the hell do I think I am??? Have I gone mad? I have decided to change my career after my huge health crises last year. Have I gone mad? OH MY GOD everyone must think I've gone mad. Or worse, they pity me. Crap I feel the scary tingles and buzzes in my leg. Yup, my illness is active again. Oh, fantastic, just perfect. Just when I need to be on top of my game, my body has decided to scare me. This is never going to work. I might as well give up now, because my body isn't strong enough anyway. Yup, I'm too fragile and sensitive to do anything. Why bother. I'm going to stay here under the cover and hide. Yes, that's what i'll do, that's a brilliant idea...No one will know..."
You see how creative and fun fear can be? And you see where this is going right? Straight down the alley of "I'm not good enough" through "paralyse avenue" to "pity street." So it was time to face the music and dance. I went though the above steps and my fear ride taught me I was TIRED. I was STRESSED and I was OVERWHELMED. The start up of my business and the launch took every ounce of my strength. And although I'm so so happy and proud with the result, in the last phase just before launch I haven't been applying enough Daily Nature into my own life (the exact beautiful words of my dad). The wisdom I take from this, is that sometimes stress is unavoidable. And that being as sensitive as I am, it's essential to take good care of myself and protect myself from doing too much and pushing too hard. No good comes from pushing and pulling.
Rest, love and acceptance are the healing recipe. And a little laughter goes a long way. So on that note, I'm going to logout and wish you a beautiful day. I hope the above steps will be useful in your own life. Just you remember you are not weird and you are not alone.
The fun part? You get to repeat all these steps over and over again when fear creeps up at you. Because, life is life and it will happen. For some more than others, but it will happen so don't give up. Keep practicing, practicing, practicing and breathing. You kind of never want to stop breathing:-)
Love & tranquility,