Most of us feel caught between two positions in life – the desire to get the most out of our life and the fear. Fear is holding us back, but what actually is it? The first step in managing fear is facing it. But fear is so uncomfortable that it puts us off looking at it. Yet as long as we don’t face it, it will continue to hold us in its grasp.
It helps to gain some understanding of why fear exists, and why it is present for all human beings. Fear is a legacy of our evolution. We had to feel fear to survive the dangers in our environment. Fear keeps us alert to danger and able to respond quickly. So our fear response, our fight or flight instinct, is built into our system.
This can be made worse if we have a less than secure upbringing. If we weren’t taught how to manage our anxiety at an early age, we become hyper-alert to danger and this can go unchecked throughout our lives. Anxiety becomes a habitual response to everyday situations and we can feel dominated by fears.
In modern life survival is a social matter. We have to fit in with society’s expectations to be accepted because we depend on the support of our relationships. We depend on financial security in order to buy the things we need to survive, and this too demands that we conform to be accepted. So our acceptance in society feels like life or death. Our fear has transformed into social fear and has transformed into fear of failure, of standing out, of ridicule, of rejection.
These fears hold us from stepping outside of convention, from attempting to succeed, from making changes and from speaking our truth. These fears hold us back from the life we want and from being all that we can be. Decide that you are no longer going to let your fear control you and take these steps.
- Listen to your fear. Listen closely to the inner voice that tells you that you are not good enough and that disaster is just around the corner. Understand that fear is a part of you that is trying to keep you safe, but fear is not rational, objective or right.
- Talk to your fears. Explain that you will listen and take their views into account, but you will make up your own mind. Reassure your fear that you are competent in life, not perfect but capable enough. Mistakes are inevitable but you can recover. Explain that you are going to try.
- Be alert to the triggers of the fear response, to the devious messages that fear sends you as it tries to keep hold, and be diligent in your counter talk.
The truth is that your fears are unfounded. With time, patience, diligence and compassion, you can set yourself free.