Fear is something we all experience and sadly it’s an emotion we just can’t avoid. There are some who let fear run their life, while others learn to make it work in their favor. Fear is both painful and disorienting, but we also don’t need to let our fears stop us from pursuing the things we most care about. Therefore, it’s important to know the ways in which our fears can appear and how to rightly deal with them.
As a life coach, I teach clients how to understand the difference between good fear and bad fear. Good fears are instinctual and keep us out of dangerous situations. Bad fears keep us stuck in unhappy relationships, unfulfilling careers or other negative situations because we’re afraid to take action.
To further help you understand fear and how it may manifest, here are a few examples of behaviors to watch for:
Often procrastination is a sign that what you are doing is not in line with what you really want to do. Since fear can disguise as procrastination, moments of stalling can be the perfect time to see if your values line up with the decision or task that you’re procrastinating on.
By allowing perfectionism to keep you in a loop of “this isn’t good enough,” you stay stuck and possibly afraid to move forward. Any creative type knows this story well, so decide if there are areas where you can trade perfect for good enough and just keep going.
We often fear action because we are afraid to fail. One way to embrace failure is to see it as a learning opportunity. Failure doesn’t mean that you were unsuccessful, but it is simply feedback that things may need to be done differently.
Fear’s primary role is to get your attention, so by learning to decode what your fears are actually telling you, you can start to get to the bottom of the heart reasons behind those fears. This grants clarity to make empowered choices now that you understand the why instead of just the what.
No matter how good we may get at understanding our fears, that doesn’t mean that they’ll simply cease to show up. When they do, trying combating them with a few of these tips:
Tip 1: Counter every fear with four positive things you know to be certain and/or positive affirmations. This works to rewire the brain and helps to create new thought patterns that move you out of a fear-locked way of thinking.
Tip 2: Surround yourself with people who inspire, love and encourage you each day. Perhaps create a short list of friends whom you can call if you need support. Having friends who can really love you in a time of need is beyond valuable to keep focused on truth instead of fears.
Tip 3: Approach fear with curiosity. Getting curious about what you fear on a daily basis is a way to take back control of your life. Study books on the topics of fear, courage and how to build confidence. Some great authors on the subjects include Mark Nepo, Pema Chodron, Marianne Williamson, and Danielle LaPorte.
Tip 4: Eliminate the should. It’s incredibly powerful to be honest with your feelings rather than living in a shell of what you think you should feel. Honesty can allow for deeper intimacy in all of your relationships and is one of the simplest ways to work through your fears.
Tip 5: Love yourself always, even in the face of uncertainty. Loving yourself as you explore your fears has the power to alchemize them into things that are useful and support your growth into the person you’re supposed to be.
So go on; graduate yourself with a master’s degree in fear. When fear shows up, so do you. Rather than letting it run your show, use it to push forward so that you’re no longer sitting on the sidelines of your dreams. Remember, living a great and remarkable life starts with one thing: you.
How do you deal with fear? How can you distinguish the good and bad fears in your life?
Images via Alex Anne