What is Fear? By definition as stated in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger: a feeling of being afraid or a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful.
When we think of fear, what comes to mind? Is it that horror or suspense-thriller? Is it looking down from the top of a mountain? Is it a life threatening illness? Is it the beginning of a new career or starting your own business? Is it ending a relationship? Is it signing a loan for a new house? Is it having children? What if I told you, it's all of the above and much, much more in which the list becomes endless? Our fears begin with us from the personal experiences we have lived and created for ourselves and the expectations that we feel we need to live by based on external sources on the way we need to act, think and feel.
Below are some tips on how to recognize and face our fears head on so we can live healthier and more fulfilling lives reducing our need to live in fear.
With the help of my colleague and coaching partner, John Ward, let's look at FEAR as an acronym.
Feeling and Facing the Fear
Exploring the Fear
Addressing/Accepting the Fear
Releasing and allowing peace of mind
Feeling and Facing the Fear: Per John, "Once we are able to feel the fear, it allows us to look at the fear itself vs. ignoring it." For many of us, the initial instinct the moment something uncomfortable settles into the bottom of our gut is to RUN. I will admit, running allowed me to escape the issues at the moment and provided me some great vacations and experiences; however, running is a temporary solution that will only get stronger until we find the courage to face the unknown fear. Facing the fear takes inner vulnerability, strength & perseverance, a safe and reliable support group, and a whole lot of courage. It can be SCARY, but by facing the fear in the moment allows us to recognize and change the behavior so that we can live in peace.
Exploring the Fear: Allowing you to live in the fear and explore alternatives to address the fear in a safe place. For example, if you have a fear of flying, how might you tackle that fear not actually going up in a plane but allowing yourself to learn what brings on the fear in a safe place like a simulation of flying etc. Exploration allows you to come up with steps can you take to tackle that fear.
Addressing/Accepting the Fear: Don't deny your fear or the feelings caused from the fear. Accept the fear that the fear is real. It's okay, the fear may not apply to everyone, but guess what, the fear is real for YOU. So how can you accept and use the steps identified in the exploration phase to address the fear and move forward?
Releasing and allowing peace of mind: Once you have felt and faced the fear, explored different options to tackle the fear, then took steps to accept and address such fear, now is the time we can release the fear and move forward with a peace of mind. Do all fears go away? The answer is no. Some fears might still be in existence even after going through these exercises, but recognizing what causes that fear might alter future choices you make in your life that could help mitigate that fear from returning.
Each day and choice is up to each individual. External sources might empathize with situations you might be going through, but their experience (history) may be different than yours. Your fear and how you come out of that fear is yours and yours only. Listen and trust in yourself that you will make the right choices and decisions for YOU. In addition, allow yourself to find the right support system along the way that FITS YOU.
I will end with the song lyrics "Let It Go" from Frozen® written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me