In my last column, I talked about the need to recognise where you are in your life and to constantly keep asking the question ‘is my response working for me?’
Some people answer this question with a negative response, but keep repeating the same behaviours and constantly find themselves back in a negative behavioural circuit.
Why is this?
I feel it has a lot to do with understanding and dealing with our fears, so we need to learn to effectively deal with them.
The only way to do this, in my opinion, is to enter that place where we fear to go but the place that holds the rewards that we are seeking – our souls. We need to go into our souls, understand the whys and whats of our fears and then do something to address them.
Here are some clues as to how to address our fears.
Understand the nature of fear
Fear is a garden-variety human emotion – It is a natural and at times healthy emotion. There is much in this world that can make us afraid.
We all carry around fear – fear for ourselves, our family, our friends and our world. BUT THAT’S ALL THEY ARE – thoughts and feelings – they are not real! If we can understand this, we can start to address them.
The question is: how do we face our fears rather than let them determine the course of our lives in unhealthy ways?
Name Your Fear
The first step of facing our fears is to name them. What exactly are you afraid of? Public speaking? Intimacy with another? The loss of your job or of a relationship? The loss of financial security? Death? Illness? Spiders?
Visualise your fear. Disassociate yourself from the emotion generated by your fear and just look at it! Naming your fear is a significant step in being able to disassociate yourself from it.
Explore the Source of Your Fear
Why are you afraid? Is it because of some past emotional wound or childhood experience? One of the best ways to discover what it is that makes us afraid of something in particular is to get in touch with our feelings or associations related to the thing that is causing us fear. Have you experienced a terrible pain in the past that you haven’t dealt with as yet? Are you still coming to terms with an event and haven’t allowed yourself to deal with it as yet? For example, have you had a bad experience making a speech earlier in your life and now am absolutely terrified of making the same mistake? If so, you can explain why the fear exists and now can start to make plans about how to deal with it. Often the first step for dealing with fear is to forgive yourself.
Share your fears with others
It is highly unlikely that anyone who is reading this article has never experienced or held fears. We all experience it. Sometimes we think we are the only one who ever had this fear and secretly harbour our emotions. Yet by sharing your fears with people you trust may generate a conversation as to how other people have handles fear. Sometimes the answers will amaze you.
People who do have a fear of public speaking are often amazed and surprised to hear that even though I may speak in public two to three times a week, I still have some fear based emotions – but I have strategies to positively manage this fear.
Have the courage to ask and you may get real strategies to use.
Visualise a time when you did something that you would call brave. What did you do? Why was it brave? How did you feel doing it? Chances are you felt alive – really alive. In those situations, you stepped out of your stagnation zone (comfort zone) and operated in your thriving zone.
See you did it! You can address your fears. What did you learn from this to take into your next challenge?
When you do something brave, you’ll discover that the thing itself really wasn’t as scary as you had made it out to be, and you’ll feel proud that you did the thing that made you afraid. And, you’ll be able to say that you really lived.
Remain calm, focus and keep going
Rule number one, two and three when addressing your fears is don’t panic! Remain calm, focus on your breathing, get in control of your thoughts and focus on addressing one part of the fear process. Importantly, don’t beat up on yourself. Keep your self talk positive.
Remember to be nice to yourself when you are facing these fears. You may be are changing a life long behavioural pattern. It’s OK to have fears and it’s OK to keep trying to master them. It’s not OK to give up as you are giving away the opportunity of having a happy fulfilled life.
Remember Winston Churchill’s advice that when you are going tough times, keep going!
So enter your soul, address your fears and get that life that all of us want and deserve!