I discovered Gail Brenner while reading the Sharing Life Skills Newsletter. She is a psychologist and blogger, and is owners of the blog, A Flourishing Life. I contacted her to ask permission to post her recent post, which I found to be so helpful. She graciously agreed, so here you go!
By Gail Brenner on December 30, 2010 Note: This article is a follow-up to the guest post I wrote for The Bold Life (thanks, Tess!) about how to flourish in the face of fear.
“The presence of fear is a sure sign you’re trusting in your own strength.”
~A Course in Miracles
If you’re a human being, chances are you experience fear. These bodies we live in are built for survival, and fear is the gatekeeper. It protects us, keeping us safe and secure by making us wary of any potential threat that might come our way. Fear breeds caution, vigilance, and suspicion.
Which is fine if a hungry lion is chasing you. But if your intention is to live in the abundance that is always here, to lead with the heart, to be open to the depth and breadth of what might be possible in your life, then fear deserves your attention.
A Sacred Choice Simply said, running from fear doesn’t work. If we avoid turning to face it, it will nip at our heels forever. What does this mean? We live a fear-led life, choosing partners, jobs, and friends out of fear. Habits and addictions run wild because we are afraid of meeting our feelings. We feel separate and alienated, while deep inside, we recognize the echo of truth whispering softly.
Here is my question to you as we move into 2011. What do you want? I mean what do you really want for this precious life you have been given? If you are committed to knowing yourself fully, to living fully, then get to know fear. Start with these facts, then step aside and let your life unfold in all its glory.
Facts About Fear
- Fear-motivated thoughts are all about “can’t.” They create a negative, imagined scenario about the future. Here’s the truth: you don’t know what is going to happen, so these thoughts can’t possibly be true. Buy into these thoughts, and you are inviting limitation. Let them float on by, and you will see what is actually true for you.
- Fearful thoughts are designed to keep you safe and limited. They are not wisdom, and they are not truth. You get to choose what to follow.
- Fear always includes physical sensations. Learn to recognize these, and receive them as they are with an open heart. Channel the energy of fear into excitement and enthusiasm.
- Fear makes us think that something negative will happen, when the truth is that we don’t know what is going to happen. Become comfortable with not knowing so that fear doesn’t rule you.
- Resisting fear strengthens it. The antidote is awareness – being willing to directly experience fear as it appears to you in the moment, recognizing the thoughts and physical sensations.
- The goal is not to get rid of fear, as you don’t have the power to make this happen. But you do have the power to change the way you relate to fear. Learn to receive it with curiosity and a loving heart, get to know how it spins thoughts that deflate the things you are enthusiastic about. But don’t feel like something is wrong or you have failed if it continues to appear. Simply meet it lovingly every time.
- A surge of fear tends to arise directly after a moment of truth. Say that an idea appears in your mind about something you’d love to do. Soon after, you might notice that your mind is filled with reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do it. Recognize that this is fear speaking.
- Recognizing the presence of fear allows you to make conscious decisions. You have the clarity to see what fear is guiding you to do, and you can consider what you really want.
- Fear is not the enemy. It can be the voice of reason, caution, and practicality that serves you well at times.
- It takes energy to resist fear. Getting to know it and allowing it to be lets your body and mind relax, as the fight is over. This opens a space for creativity, wonder, awe, love, beauty, inspiration.
How have you dealt with fear? Does it hold you back? What happens when you embrace fear? I’d love to hear…