Overcoming fear is actually not 'overcoming', it's 'understanding' and it's something everyone has to face when stepping into the unknown...
Living life as a free spirit you may come up against fear in some form or other even more than most. Opening up to the new consciousness, stepping into a new paradigm - it's challenging, and when unprecedented change is taking place, as it is on our planet right now, fear is bound to show it's face.
But why are we so ready to feel the fear and not so capable of seeing the opportunities instead? And how do you go about overcoming fear?
The definition of fear is ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm’, so fear is not always bad. It’s a vital survival instinct that alerts us of any potential dangers around us, without it we would end up in all sorts of difficult and life threatening situations.
We can also fear pain from emotional issues, like the fear of losing someone, or of poverty, as well as the fear of illness.
But sometimes we fear things that are natural steps on our path to becoming who we really are and definitely when we start allowing ourselves to live in the flow.
In fact on my path fear has sometimes paralyzed me for a short while... It's all part of the journey.
A word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy.
~ Life Of Pi ~
It always puzzled me as to why we are so ready to see danger and harm in new situations, rather than opportunities and growth… It seems we are naturally wired to always look on the down side of everything we don’t understand, anything that's new to us.
So I did some research, and found out that it harks back to our ancient reptilian brain where making a mistake about whether something was dangerous or not could cost you your life more often than not. So if you didn’t understand something it could be dangerous and it wasn’t worth hanging around to find out if you were wrong.
Overcoming fear is hampered even more because it triggers a physical response in our brains, releasing chemicals and signals that, unless we are acutely aware of what is going on, will send us into an automatic response. We ready ourselves to fight and protect, or scarper as fast as we can.
So that's all well and good, even today, if you’re out and about and a big truck is bearing down on you or someone steps out of the shadows with seeming evil intent…
But it can also stifle a longing to do anything that requires us to face new challenges, environments or even emotions. And it can be hard to understand whether the fear is real or imagined.
So it’s a very complex subject and I don’t pretend that I can discuss it with any deep professional understanding. But I have faced things that frightened the pants off me and despite that continued on the path I was on by overcoming fear in each instance… so I thought it may help you too.
Have you ever heard of the acronym F.E.A.R? I’m sure you have, if not, it stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.
In other words, what you are fearful of is not even real right now – it’s a false view of what may happen sometime in the future.
One of my biggest ‘aha’ moments was when I realized is that fear always lives in the future… even the dictionary definition uses the word 'threat', so it's always about what may happen, not what is.
If. on your way to the shops, you come face to face with an angry elephant for example (OK, I know this is not a daily occurrence for most people, but bear with me...), the fear you feel is of what the elephant will do, not what it is doing…
If it gets to the stage of actually charging you, you're still in fear of what it may do – if it reaches you… Once you're actually engaged with the elephant, fear has gone and fight has come to the fore - or flight more likely.
So fear is always in the future, even if it is only a few minutes. And therefore it’s always a product of your imagination.
Fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.
~ After Earth ~
As soon as you realise that the thing you fear has not happened yet and may never happen, it becomes conscious. And when something becomes conscious you can choose how to react to it.
So you can choose to sit in fear, or to get on with what you’re doing, and worry about the situation if it happens.
One way to do this is to say to yourself, ‘right, I feel afraid that this may happen, but I also know it may not. So I’m choosing not to feel that fear right now, I’ll think about it tomorrow instead.' And then get on with whatever you’re doing.
By deferring the feelings of fear you’re not trying to squash them or pretend that they don’t exist (which just makes them stronger), you’re just putting them aside for the time being. You're not so much overcoming fear as sidelining it for the moment...
It sounds a little strange I know – but try it! It certainly works for me. Maxwell Maltz in his book Psycho-Cybernetics says:
Another important insight I had around overcoming fear, was that looking back at past failures as a guide for the future is not very productive.
It's true we must learn from our mistakes, and to do that we need to look at them. But really, when you're in new territory, you don't know what the outcome will be – so why worry about getting the same result?
Then there are friends and their stories of failure, what happened to them when they tried something similar, or their friend’s brother or whoever. None of this has any relevance on what YOU are doing NOW.
The bottom line is fear is often irrational, and while it’s good to be aware of potential risks, if you only act when you're not feeling fearful you will never achieve anything different to what you currently have.
Next time you feel fearful and anxious:
Realize that what you fear isn’t happening NOW,
Remember that it’s only one of a million (or more) possibilities that could happen in the future,
It may never happen (it probably won’t).
Put off worrying about it until a future time
Look forwards, not backwards.
More dreams are lost through not even trying because of fear, than they are through getting into action and failing.
Because most people would rather give up on their dreams than face their fears.
Don’t be one of them – most of your fears will never even materialize and if they do – overcoming fear is not as hard as it appears, as long as you face the situation when it happens, and not as some imagined, future event.