“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power. You are free.” ~ Jim Morrison
In the spirit of Halloween this week, it seemed fitting to explore our deepest fears. And by fears, I’m not talking about your fear of spiders, snakes and ghosts. I’m talking about those fears and underlying beliefs that are getting in your way of moving towards your full potential – those unconscious fears and beliefs you have about yourself that are holding you back. When we become more aware of our deepest, darkest fears and expose them to the light, we can see that they actually aren’t real at all but simply false emotions appearing real (F.E.A.R.).
Too many of us are not living our dreams or our potential because we are living our fears, even though those fears are simply a habit of mind and often the product of our subconscious thoughts. Our fears reside in our lower emotional brain, the basal ganglia, which is the strongest part of the brain. This part of our brain recognizes and repeats patterns until it’s told otherwise. It’s also where we uncover the fears that stop us and the underlying beliefs that limit our thinking and get in the way of achieving our potential. The good news is that our prefrontal cortex or upper logical brain, known as the “manager”, understands long-term benefits and consequences. So, because of our brains plasticity, with awareness and practice, the prefrontal cortex can override the basal ganglia, and thus overcoming those fears.
“Bravery is not the absence of fear. Bravery is feeling the fear, the doubt, the insecurity, and deciding that something else is more important”. ~ Mark Manson
We can’t eliminate our fear and nor do we want to as it can also be a healthy thing. Our brain is literally wired to feel fear and threats to our safety. For example, maybe you should actually listen to your brain if you are tempted to feed that bear! However, generally most of our fears really don’t serve us. For example, let’s say you’re walking across the street and see a long slithering object – you automatically think it’s a snake so your sympathetic nervous system kicks in (fight or flight). However, as you courageously move closer to it, you see that it’s just a hose. Then your brain’s limbic system and parasympathetic system (rest and digest) kicks in and reduces your feelings of fear. These fears do not serve us when they cause unnecessary paralysis or inaction, such as if you avoided walking across the street.
Courage and Fear
Feeling fear is completely normal and we’re all going to be or feel scared at times. For example, we can be scared of taking that job, making that speech, asking that person out, making a tough phone call, or applying to that school. Being courageous means doing it anyway in spite of feeling fear, knowing that by taking that step, or by taking action, it will be all worth it.
Learning how to overcome fear will help to diminish any anxiety and panic and will leave you feeling more empowered than ever. Most of your healing journey will be about unlearning the patterns of self-protection that you once believed kept you safe. We need to learn how to overcome false fears that are interfering with our major life areas such as work, relationships, health and fitness, finances, etc. We also need to know what will help us when we do experience these feelings, so we can tackle them when they threaten our development process. If our energy goes into avoiding people or situations that scare, intimidate, or make us uncomfortable, we will always live out of our self-protective system, missing out on who we can be and our potential. While we all have many fears, you will discover that they usually relate back to your predominant need and therefore are easily triggered.
Predominant Fears for Each Striving Style
Leader – to feel weak, powerless or helpless
Intellectual – to feel interior, incompetent, irrelevant, or dominant
Performer – to feel shame, humiliated, worthless, or disappointed
Visionary – to feel attacked, ridiculed, or diminished.
Socializer – to feel abandoned, alone, or devalued
Artist – to feel rejected, invaded, or inferior
Adventure – to feel confined, restricted and imprisoned
Stabilizer – to feel insecure, useless, or uncertain.
Knowing the fears of your predominant style and facing them head on is critical step in discovering your best self. Each of us has a predominant need with a corresponding fear. Can you identify your predominant fear from the list above? In order to overcome our fears, we need to know what it is that we are ultimately afraid of. We overcome our fear when we understand and talk about it. In doing so, we can minimize it into the nothingness that it always was – mostly brooding thoughts and false emotions appearing real.
How you overcome your F.E.A.R.’s
- Discover the predominant fears associated with your Striving Style. Most of our fears relate back to our predominant style.
- Realize that we are not our thoughts but simply the awareness of our thoughts. Observe them for what they are. For example, say to yourself “Oh, this is just fear I’m feeling” or “Yes shame, I see you” or “Oh hi there rejection”.
- Think about it, how is your fear healthy for you or how is your fear holding you back.
- Write out what you are afraid of. Ask yourself if it is real. When we understand our fears, they aren’t so scary.
- Ask yourself what the worst thing that could actually happen if you do the thing, take action, etc. Write it beside the fear.
- Then consider what the best outcome will be if you do the thing, take action, etc. Then write it beside the fear.
- Write out one small action step that will push you through your fear and move you forward. When you can develop competence, you develop confidence.
- Taking action is easier said than done. Watch Mel Robbins talk about the 5 Second Rule, or read her book for her advice on how you can take action. It is one of the most impactful books and concepts that I’ve read in the past few years.
Be willing to step into your fear and make small moves forward. Fear is very powerful emotion and it will paralyze you if you let it. Everything always seems scarier in the dark, so turn the light on your fears so you can see them for what they are. Remember, nothing changes until your relationship with fear changes. So get out there, be courageous and face your fears!
Now, it’s your turn.
What are you afraid of? What is the one thing that you really want but are afraid to do? What is the worst thing that will happen if you do it? What is the best thing that could happen if you are courageous enough to actually do it?
Share your thoughts in the comments.