The idea of fear and the challenges it presents us with has been coming up a lot lately in my own life, and also in working with clients. Fear of the unknown, fear around a new challenge, fear of failure, fear of being hurt. Why is it that fear is such an ever-present force in our lives, pushing and pulling us back and forth as we attempt to walk the already rocky path of life? If we don’t take chances — physically, emotionally, mentally — we’re safer, right? Or are we?
As I have grown and expanded my knowledge of self and others through my personal work, my Psychology training, and in partnering with clients on their journeys, I have experienced and witnessed fear over and over again as both a form of handcuffs and as a catalyst, as something some people hide from and something some throw themselves into head-on.
Here is a simple mantra around fear that came from a friend:
“fear means do it.”
This struck me as incredibly powerful. She has worked closely with her feeling of fear over the years and is acutely aware of what it feels like in her body. She notices rather quickly now when the feeling of fear creeps in. And, when she notices it she focuses on what the fear is centered around and then repeats her mantra, “fear means do it.” She knows the fear is there for a reason, but rather than allow it to hold her back she uses it like a signpost directing her towards exactly where she should be going, learning, or leaning in on. In this way, she has faced many challenges and progressed head first into situations most would have shied away from.
To understand how to move through fear, we too must hone our mindfulness practice to be able to notice the feeling of fear in our own bodies. It feels different for each of us. It might come as a wave through the body, it might feel like a punch to the gut, or maybe it’s a tightening in the throat. Fear, like other challenging emotions, is something to be recognized and validated, not pushed away or ignored. It exists within us for a very real reason. We are fear driven animals because of self-preservation, protection, and survival. Our emotional instincts and limbic system were honed millions of years ago to be aware of dangers in our environment. Our intuition and gut feelings such as fear, hesitation, and distrust…