Read Time: 7 Minutes
A few weeks ago I published a piece to my site regarding Death and the lessons it teaches us to do with living a full and meaningful life. Emotions which often come to mind when one thinks of Death are angst, sadness, despair, but more frequently, fear. While I think that post is partially what inspired me to write this piece, I also think it’s because I felt some of my own fears have been blocking my pursuits and felt compelled to check in on them.
Just as you should check in with yourself fairly regularly with your goals and dreams (ensure you are aligned with them, creating mini goals to smash big goals), it’s also important to identify your fears.
Similar to not checking your credit card balance out of fear of what you’ll find, not completing gentle check-ins with yourself about what you fear, will potentially lead to a build-up of your fear (where did that card balance come from?). I say gentle because it’s important you go easy on yourself and grant yourself permission to recognize your fears are real and valid.
Not to mention, if you’re already someone prone to catastrophizing situations and experiences, it’s possible you’ll do the same of what you fear. Like the pressure that is built up when you shake an unopened can of Coca-Cola, catastrophizing can makes your fears appear to be much worse than they are when left unchecked.
What about fears which you can’t face in an entirely gentle format? There will be the rare occasion that in order to confront your fear, you sometimes just have to face it head-on – no amount of easing into it can prepare you. It’s similar to ripping off a band-aid.
Below I have outlined a few tips if you are seeking to work through your fears.
1. Identify Your Fears
I think many of us leave our fears floating around in our head, generally pushing them to the side, simply because we don’t wish to face them. We don’t necessarily take the steps to work through them in the physical world, hence why they have the potential to grow bigger if avoided. In addition, I feel as though many of us choose not to openly face our fears out of concern we will be judged for them by others.
“What if the thing I fear will be thought of as silly or not concerning to others – why would I share it?”
It’s yet another fear – the fear of expressing the fear, the fear of not being heard and/or acknowledged by others. Which is why, although it might seem like an obvious step, you first need to identify your fears. If talking about them to another person is too much for you, start by writing them down.
I encourage you to write down 3 fears in front of you, get them out of your head, onto paper and really focus on what is at the root of that fear – is it failure? Injury to yourself and/or loved ones? Death? What tangible evidence is there that the fear will occur, and if so, what would be the effect it had on your life? Is there anything you can do to control the fear, or alleviate it?
I have many fears. Out of the blue the other day, the realization hit me that I am afraid of heights, but yet love the feeling of flying in an airplane. Apparently I feel safer at great heights when in a giant compressed capsule with wings – go figure that one out.
Here are a few more of my fears. These are in no particular order (meaning just because my fear concerning family and friends is at the bottom, doesn’t mean I consider them to be the last priority):
- I fear failure.
- I fear my blog will never be successful.
- I fear my blog will be successful – yes – I fear both success and lack of success.
- I fear my passion will no longer being my passion simply because it will turn into work and will no longer be fun.
- I fear not becoming a freelance writer/editor.
- I fear failing as a freelance writer/editor.
- I fear the failure of my goal to live in another country while I am single, able, and financially independent.
- I fear COVID-19 will prevent me from recognizing my goal to live in another country.
- I fear never having a successful, healthy romantic relationship as an adult.
- I fear having children – if I think about this fear too much, I actually begin to question whether I even want children, as i’ve told myself I do time and time again. The fear stems from the idea of caring for another human being, but more so from pregnancy as a whole, what it does to your body, and labor. “It’s the greatest decision you will ever make” – jury is still out on that one.
- I fear i’m spending too much time on Instagram, and social media in general.
- I fear Death and by extension, I fear my family members and friends dying.
2. Get Curious About What Is Outside Your Comfort Zone
It can be hard to move past the feeling of fear, to be scared by something, but when we don’t address our fears, we stay stuck to a certain extent. Fear keeps us within our comfort zone, a place where, while safe, warm and friendly, offers no real room and encouragement for growth.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone, creates discomfort, and you guessed it – more fear. If it didn’t more people would be doing it. Discomfort is awkward, and uncomfortable and can be really hard for some folks. However, stepping outside of our comfort zone, is where true growth begins. Being cautiously curious about what life looks like outside your comfort zone, can ease you into getting comfortable stepping out of it more and more. Baby steps count too!
3. Flip Your Thinking – Fear = Potential Growth
So we’ve talked about getting out of your comfort zone in order to create growth and diminish fear, but what if we started viewing fear itself differently?
What I find has really helped me in embracing my fears, is trying to view my fears as an indicator of a direction I should be moving in. Fear can actually signify a point of growth, so I really try to flip my thinking and recognize that the fear signifies a point where growth is needing to take place in my life. This exercise is one I usually apply to fears related to my career or passion projects. However, I try to apply this mentality as well, or at least view the fear as something that I am needing to grow through, with life in general, such as romance, personal development or betterment.
4. You Can Work On Your Fears, While Still Being Afraid of Them
Fear is actually a fairly healthy emotion for one to experience (within reason). Just because you are embracing your fears, checking in on them, or recognizing they are something you might need to work on, doesn’t mean you can’t still be afraid of them. I’m not suggesting that by checking in with your fears or calling them out, the fear associated with them will instantaneously go away. If once you write them down and get them out of your head, you find they do dissipate a bit, that’s fantastic. But also recognize that you can conquer and work to overcome your fears, while at the same time, still expressing timidity or fearfulness at the thought of them. Getting over your fears is also something which has no time limit – it may take you a few days, a few months, a few years. And that’s okay – what matters is that gradual, beneficial progress is made, in checking in with them and working through them.
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