Oh the amount of time I’ve spent over the years trying to run away from fear. Thinking that it was ‘wrong’ and that if I was going to be successful I needed to first get rid of my fear.
I would do all kinds of things to avoid my fear – stuff it down, distract myself, pretend it wasn’t there – only to find that it kept coming back. Sometimes larger and more consuming than before.
So I would dig in and try more ‘fear busting strategies’. Meditation. Positive thinking. Affirmations. The good ole ‘suck it up princess and do it anyway’ approach.
Some of these strategies would work for a while… until I wore out from all the pushing and found my old friend fear still there beside me. It felt like running on a treadmill trying to get across town – spending so much energy and ultimately ending up in the same place.
There was a moment a few years back when something struck me about fear.
What if fear wasn’t here to stop me, but was instead here to shine a light on future possibilities.
Hmmm… I had to sit with that for a moment.
And as I sat with it something became clear – fear only showed up when I was looking to make a shift of some kind.
When I was looking to go from ‘where I am now’ to ‘where I want to go next.’
Fear doesn’t show up when things are easy. Comfortable. When we feel 100% confident and in charge of life.
Oh no – fear only shows up when we want more from life. When we want to make a change.
And in my experience, the more fear that shows up… the closer we are to our truth. Our purpose.
Put simply – we can look at fear as the enemy or we can look at fear as a friend.
If we look at fear as the enemy we will keep fighting it. We will try to find a way to ‘push through it’, avoid it or keep on thinking positive thoughts pretending it’s not there.
If we befriend fear then a couple of really cool things start to happen.
We recognize that fear is normal and positive. It’s a natural part of the growth process and not something we need to resist. “Hello fear… I see you. I know I’m looking at some changes and I recognize that you being here is a sign that I’m on the right track.”
We can honor that fear is here to protect us. Why does fear show up when things are changing? Because it wants to keep us safe. It wants to keep us where we are now because it’s known. Making a change forces us to step into the unknown and fear doesn’t like that. “What if this doesn’t work out? What if I try and I fail? May as well just stay here with what I know… even if I don’t enjoy it.”
When we look at fear differently we can get to know it better, so that we can work ‘with’ our fear instead of always trying to fight it.
I have a few journaling questions I like to ask my fear when it shows up that I’ll share in my next post.