Updated: Mar 17, 2021
Fear can feel like a dirty four-letter word. I decided to explore how I could change that association for myself and others. What I figured out was, as a wise mentor would say, "there's no solution, simply a relationship."
Facing fear can be a layered process because fear is a part of us. It's something that biologically helps keep us safe when it's grounded in reality. When we give it a life of its own now, that's when it can become detrimental. So, yeah, there's a process that comes with fear. It's not necessarily overcoming it. It's more about building a different kind of relationship with it.
You don't want to avoid it. It's a part of you. To deny fear is really to deny a part of yourself. It's about recognizing where it's showing up in a negative space, even if it's through motivation. I was laid off almost a year ago, and things have a way of coming up to the surface when you're forced to stop and pivot.
“Fear will disguise itself because it doesn't want to be discovered.”
Now I realize how much my mindset (what I think and how I feel) profoundly influenced and drove what I thought about myself, other people, my situations, and my decisions. So much of that was grounded in fear. I had a choice to pull back and avoid that and let it in the driver's seat or lean into it and possibly develop a healthy relationship with it.
We associate fear with something negative because we don’t always know anything more about fear other than we don’t want to feel it. Using the power of our thoughts to challenge that fear’s validity can help shift our mindset, reference points, and associations with fear. Our thoughts are powerful and can create powerful associations with things, and a lot of the time, it's the negative associations that stay with us.
Everyone is unique, and how to approach building a relationship with fear depends on you. As a Mindset Coach, to better navigate sessions, I have to develop a rapport with my client and determine their values. However, they have to do that for themselves before sharing that with anybody. That helps me work with them to uncover beliefs around fears. What is that belief? What is that belief causing you to feel? What did you benefit from this belief? I say that because the chances are that fear did have a benefit at one point. For example, it can show up many times for people as fear of failure and become a motivator.
Fear will disguise itself because it doesn't want to be discovered. It’ll show up as a helpful friend. Just like getting to know anyone in your life and building a relationship, you do it by asking questions. In this case, you're asking yourself these questions. For me, something like a fear of swimming stems from me not feeling like I'm capable of saving myself.
“Fear is a part of you that needs to be nurtured and nourished for you to feel confident, capable, and worthy…”
The fear that shows up on the surface can have deeper roots. Without being willing to challenge those fears and reach the roots, fear can manifest into this feeling of not being able to or an unwillingness to at least try. I've tried this summer because I had to recognize “where is this coming from?” It's deeper than just swimming. If everything were that simple, we'd get there a little quicker. It’s not simple to build compassion towards your fears and yourself. Fear is a part of you that needs to be nurtured and nourished for you to feel confident, capable, and worthy because it's been hiding back there in the shadows for so long.
I'm continuously peeling back layers because as I've developed professionally, there's been a personal piece of my story that I've had to face as well. All of the doors that I open say fear on them, but they lead to different rooms - fear of success, fear of failure, fear of not being enough, fear of not building my business in my vision. It's essential to build a relationship with whatever fears you face in your personal life or professional life. It's all a relationship.
Speaking of relationships, fear can prevent us from our fundamental human need for connection. There’s the one side where there's the need for it, and then there's the other side where there's the fear of it. That can exist simultaneously, but not recognizing the fear can leave you more vulnerable to being hurt and more likely not take emotional risks necessary to connect and be vulnerable.
Some of us fear replicating specific behavior or relationships that made the people we care about feel crappy or us. The benefit of avoiding connecting altogether helps us, you guessed it, not feel crappy. When we want to connect, we may find it difficult because that fear still thinks it's benefiting you and protecting you. I've found it incredibly liberating to bring that fear to the surface and shed light on it. It helped me see it differently because I think everything looks different in the sun. Everything sparkles in the sun, you know, even fear.”
What fear will you shed light on?