” When you make friends with fear, it can’t rule you” ~ Anne Lamotte
Fear is natural. Fear is a part of being human. You cannot escape it. What is important is your relationship to fear. It can either rule your life, or you can feel empowered facing fear and also learn how to gracefully move through it. If you allow fear to control you, you will stay stuck in your self-imposed life cages, trying to avoid the fear that lurks just beyond your awareness. This is a disempowered way to live life. The truth is that you cannot escape fear, no matter whether you stay in your life cages or choose to leave them. No matter what you do, this fear is in your being, and it must be faced and befriended if you want to be empowered and live a life in alignment with your true heart’s calling.
The secret to facing fear and learning to befriend it is first realizing that this type of fear is not real. There are two types of fear: fear of being physically hurt and fear of being emotionally or spiritually wounded. Pay attention when fear gives you its warnings and what it has to say. Listen to it, of course, if it says to not cross a road in front of a car. Listen to it, but don’t buy in to all it is telling you. Fear is but a guide. Fear shows you where you have room to grow and where your comfort zones lie.
You know at the core of your being what you are capable of. You know when you need to heed fear’s warning and stay away from someone or something. You also know when you need to walk through the illusions that fear creates and step out of that security box to pursue your passions. The secret to moving through the fear that keeps you trapped in life’s cages is to realize that this type of fear is illusory.
This fear is simply an emotion passing through you like clouds passing through the sky of your being. This fear will come and go. This fear is not who you truly are. Be open to the fear, welcome the fear, and do not send it away. Do not try to chase it from your being like a naughty child.
The secret is to create a new, empowering relationship with fear that nurtures you and pushes you toward the ever-expanding experience of the unknown. Fear will never leave your side. It is here to stay. The important thing to remember is that fear is a part of living free of your self-imposed cages, and you must decide to simply accept that fear will be a part of your life’s experience. It’s time to learn how to walk hand-in-hand with fear instead of trying to always avoid fear or somehow rise above fear.
Five Steps to Befriending Fear
- Invite in the Fear
Right now, take a moment to befriend fear. It is time to stop running away from it and discover that it is only a sensation to move through. It’s time to consciously invite the fear into your world. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Now imagine you are going to leave your comfort zone, and get a sense of the fear that rises in you as a response to leaving. It will not hurt you. It is simply a sensation in your being that is triggered from some old imprinting. Invite it to be here now so that you can fully feel it.
2. Be with the Feeling of Fear
Notice how fear feels in your being. Notice how it makes your body feel, and how it may make your muscles quiver. Feel the sensations in your stomach, in your chest, in your head, and in all parts of your body. Where do you feel the strongest sensations? Just keep being with the sensations of fear. Don’t attach thoughts to these sensations. Simply let the feeling of fear rise and fall like ocean waves against the shore. If you stay with the feeling, the fear will subside like a wave does when it hits the beach. You are only experiencing waves of fear. This is not you, and this cannot stop you.
Magically, after sitting with this fear for a few minutes or so, it will begin to subside on its own accord. You will suddenly feel a sort of pleasant emptiness perhaps, or some sensations of peace in your being. The truth is that sitting with fear will always allow it to dissipate. It is only in avoiding the fear and pretending that it does not exist that the fear flourishes. When you shine your inner light on fear, it begins to dissipate. Just let it wash over you and soon you will feel it grow faint and disappear. Remember that fear is simply an energy of a certain vibration in motion. It has no real form or mass, just energy in motion that quickly dissolves when you focus your full awareness on it.
3. Declare Fear as Your Friend
It is powerful to remember that fear is your friend. Fear shows you where there is room for growth and where the opening to your comfort zone lies. Feel the fear that is waiting for you right outside the door of your self-imposed life cage and then decide to embrace it. Consciously pretend that this fear is your friend. Visualize fear waiting with outstretched arms, ready to greet you. Greet fear with open arms also, and notice how this feels. How does it feel to consciously say, “Fear is my friend”? How does it feel to stop running away and finally face this energy and declare it to be friendly? This can be very transformational and empowering. It returns control to your life and allows you to follow your heart’s calling.
4. Hang Out with Fear
To embrace fear in your daily experience, you must learn to accept how it feels to experience this emotion. I recommend you start a conscious daily practice of noticing how fear feels in your body. Any time something occurs that triggers the slightest amount of fear, take a moment to close your eyes and practice being with this sensation. Does your body tighten up? Do you get sleepy? Do you feel sick to your stomach? Just let yourself feel this fear rising and falling in your body. When you feel fear, focus on it and let it be. Do not try to change it or make it feel any other way. The more you do this, the more you will see that fear ebbs and flows. It is simply energy in motion. It will not harm you. It is simply a feeling. You can learn how to embrace and surf it, as you would surf the waves of an ocean.
5. Uncover Your Fear Escape Strategy
Take time to notice how you habitually try to avoid feeling fear when it arises in your being. We all have strategies that keep us from feeling emotions we want to avoid feeling. Perhaps you watch TV instead of trying something new, like social dancing, that you have always wanted to pursue. Perhaps you hide out in your known circle of friends instead of meeting new people. Perhaps you talk yourself out of venturing into the unknown by making up stories about how busy you are in your life. Become clear on your escape hatch, and then intentionally choose a different path.
When you make this choice, you will encounter fear. So be ready to reach out and grab the hand of fear and hold on tight to it. It’s okay to feel the fear walking beside you. Just continue to walk, and you will get accustomed to that energy, and fear’s power over you will diminish. Almost every time I walk into a room full of Salsa dancers to begin an evening of dancing, I feel a little fear. I simply keep walking, knowing it will dissipate as I move forward.