Lululemon has it on their bags – Do one thing a day that scares you! We’ve all heard the saying, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways” (I think there’s a book titled that too!). Many an inspirational story has been written about people who conquered their fears and in doing so discovered their greatest passions in life. But are we really in touch with our fear? I mean the obvious fears are easy to be aware of – fear of dying or seriously injuring yourself, fear of humiliation, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of not being accepted, fear of being alone. Lately I’ve been pondering all the smaller ways in which I feel fear, that may have other disguises like ‘anxiety’, or ‘stress’, or just plain old ‘excuses’.
Yup that’s right! When you make an excuse for not doing something that life has delivered an open invitation for you to experience, I believe there is a hidden fear behind those excuses. Excuses like “I’d eat healthier if it weren’t so expensive and didn’t take so much more time to prepare.” “I don’t have the time to exercise.” “There’s never enough time to clean my house and have a life!” I’ve come to this realization because I’ve made excellent use of those excuses and others for a long time myself!!
Here’s the thing though. Life is a choice. And we have the power to choose. In each and every moment. And more and more I see these little fears I’ve discovered as a huge gift, leading me to understand better the ways in which I can choose to liberate myself! How can we embrace change if we cannot also embrace fear?!
3 Steps to embracing fear:
1. Face it. Accept it. Name it. Laugh with it. Last night I went to my first ever kickboxing class and I was full of a tonne of excuses and fears all day, but I made it, and some of my fears were coming true during the class (yes, I looked like an uncoordinated newbie in the class for sure!) and instead of feeling humiliated, I chose to laugh out loud. That’s right – there’s Pamela in a class of very serious people trying to look tough, laughing at the fact that she doesn’t seem to be able to remember her left from her right! hehehe
Earlier in the day I had also expressed my fear in writing, and then read what I wrote later on to ponder it as an observer. And I thanked myself for being so honest, and then asked myself, what’s the worst thing that can happen if those fears come true? And you know what? It wasn’t anything that I couldn’t think of a remedy for. But in having to answer the question, I realized ‘the worst case’ wasn’t doom and gloom anyways. This is the point where you know if your fear is really protecting you (say for instance if you’re afraid to walk back to your hotel in a strange city you’ve never been to before at 3am, perhaps the worst case scenario there is worth looking at?!).
2. Build the habit of embracing fear. The more we are thankful for becoming aware of our fears and excuses in the moment, the more they will become known to us. And the more we become aware of these fears and excuses and practice step one by examining the worst case scenario and then making a choice whether to take the action or not, we are empowering ourselves to act from a liberated place of true inner knowing, and not from a place where unknown fears are keeping us safe and comfortable on the couch.
- Sometimes the biggest act of courage is a small one. ~Lauren Raffo
3. Tackle the big ones as a practice. If you find a pattern in your excuses, such as you avoid social situations because you’re afraid of not fitting in, then set aside some time when you’re not faced with having to make a decision to attend a function or not, and delve into what that fear is really about for you. Does it protect you somehow? Does it serve a purpose in your life? When do you first remember that feeling of ‘not fitting in’? How has that pattern weaved throughout your life? How would it feel to fit in? What does that look like going forward in your life? What types of things do you do naturally when you are confident that your place in the world is unshakable? Are you ready to make that choice now? If it’s a phobia you just can’t come to terms with through journalling or meditation, perhaps it’s worth seeing a professional to delve into? Many people with a fear of flying now enjoy international vacations whenever they choose! Many people with a fear of heights, have now done over 100 skydiving trips!
Three simple steps – not necessarily easy, but simple! And just remember, fear is not a bad thing, nor is listening to it, as long as you are aware that is the choice you are making in the moment and that when you’re ready to choose something else, you know you can!
“Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be.” Meg Cabot
One thing I can tell you from my own journey of discovering my fears is that I have found more joy, freedom and adventure from feeling the fear and doing the thing I feared anyways, then I have from listening to the excuses and not questioning the beliefs and fears behind them.
Empower yourself with choice today. What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid to do it?! Make it happen. You won’t regret it!