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October 7, 2020

As a child, I grew up with a lot of fear. I was fearful of the dark. I couldn’t close my eyes while I washed my face. I feared going into a room alone. I feared my dad. He would walk in the house and I would hide in the closet, under my bed or I would crawl out my window. It was a lonely childhood and I had to learn how to work through a lot of my fears.

This pandemic has caused a tremendous amount of fear, anxiety and uncertainty for nearly all of us in some way. It seems all year we have been going “into the unknown” (Frozen II). So many people are living in fear. Fear of losing a loved one, fear of losing a job or fear of what will happen or not happen to tomorrow. That being said, when we cannot rely on our future tomorrows and we are surrounded by so many unknowns, fear may take an overwhelming deep grip on us. What is our call to action?

I’m excited to share some tools with you that may help you through your fears. So let’s begin by talking about what fear is, and what it is not. There may be situations, individuals, or activities in your life that cause you fear, but they remain static. Their intensity does not change, however, fear can self-magnify. It is when worry and that underlying energy allows that fear to grow that you can then envision all that might go wrong.

If worry is left unchecked or immobilized and that tiny flicker ignites into something far greater, it can then grow into anxiety. Anxiety is a place that can paralyze you into inaction. As you walk through that fear, you may discover that your fear may be out of sync with reality. Once you take that first step towards the very reason you’re frightened, you can confront it head on. It will allow worry, that can encourage anxiety, to take a back seat. The result, fear will no longer control you.

Luckily, there are positives that can come with fear. It is crucial during times of great distress by alarming the “fight or flight” mechanism to heighten your senses and energize you in times of danger. This fear is necessary to keep you safe.

Your critter brain, (monkey or dinosaur brain) as the brain stem is frequently referred to, is part of the brain that does everything to keep you safe at all costs. The “critter brain,” not only cares about safety, but survival is a crucial component as well. The critter brain is responsible for automatic body functions; like blood pressure, breathing, temperature regulating, etc.
It prompts us to choose fight/flight/freeze behaviors that keep us from standing out, being put in danger, or feeling discomfort. It also creates barriers preventing you from fulfilling your greatest potential.

A risk can cause pain or failure, so rather than creating pain by moving forward, it keeps you stuck in neutral and possibly creates fear, which can immobilize you. Essentially that old programming instills fear to keep you safe and does not allow you to move forward. With that in mind, if you stay in your comfort zone then you cannot get hurt, but you also cannot grow. Like I just mentioned earlier, fear keeps you from moving forward and growing in ways that are critical to improving your life. It may not be comfortable or familiar at first, but before long that first step will be a second and a third step allowing you to take action. What was once unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory is now familiar and possible. I didn’t say it was easy, but definitely doable and worth it.

Whether your fear is talking to a boss or family member, public speaking, an activity that makes you nervous, or placing yourself in a situation where the odds are against you, you can get over fear.

First, write down something that causes you fear. Recognize all of the emotions that are coming up around that fear.

Next, take a moment and follow these powerful steps:

  1. Feel into into your fear. Do not suppress it. It’s important to address and acknowledge where this fear is originating from. It’s ok if you do not know.
  2. Write down the things you are worrying about… get them out of your head. You are now taking control of the worry and anxiety by physically doing something, by taking action.
  3. Where it is manifesting itself in your body?
  4. Give it a shape
  5. Breathe
  6. As you breathe…and with every breath that shape is going to get smaller and smaller until it dissolves.

I hope you can implement these tools into your life. It’s amazing how powerful the brain is. It’s important to train it to do what we want, so you will have control over the fear in your life.

As I have used this exercise for many different fears in my life, I feel liberated from the fear that has held me captive. I know as you practice these helpful tools, you will feel the same relief and strength in your life.