4 Simple Steps to Overcome Small and Big Fears
No human being gets to escape fear.
Sooner or later, we experience it, because it is in our genes; fear allows us to get into the fight or flight mode we need in case of emergency - wolves running after us, shotgun sounds, a violent threat. Fear is our body’s natural sign to indicate we should protect ourselves - and do it fast.
But here’s the thing - in my world, and probably in yours, most of the time, we are lucky enough not to experience states of emergency often. There are no wolves, no gunshots on the street, no immediate threats. We get to walk, drive, bike to the supermarket, pray, choose a job we like, decide who to love, where to live, what to wear - freely, without being afraid that these things might be taken away from us.
And yet what is it we do often? We fear. We’re scared. We’re afraid. We don’t dare but not because of danger, because of what we tell ourselves, what people tell us, what we hear, read, watch.
Fear, in our 21st-century safe world, is experience-based.
I realized this when I was asked repeatedly by Maoris, indigenous people from New Zealand, if I wasn’t afraid to be traveling alone on the other side of the planet, backpacking there 3 years ago. I wasn’t afraid because I was used to traveling and had been taught that it isn’t scary.
As a city girl, I was definitely afraid of the overwhelming nature (they weren’t), of losing my wallet (they weren’t), of not finding a job (they weren’t), of running out of money (they weren’t).
Those days I spent working with Maoris and learning about their fears started to make me realize that everything we fear, we make up. Or people make up for us. They were afraid of traveling on their own because a belief of it being scary had been passed on to them; I wasn’t, because I’d been taught the opposite.
We don’t have to be scared. We can train our minds to remember that.
Just for a second, imagine. Name your fear and imagine it disappeared. Poof. How would you feel? What would happen? What would you do?
A little while ago, a friend shared a technique on how to overcome fear with me and I’ve been using it repeatedly since then - every time I notice I’m feeling held back because I’m afraid of what might come out (getting into a yoga pose, trying an exotic recipe, launching a new meditation project), and it’s helped a lot to gain some perspective.
Here are the steps - write them down somewhere you see often, even hang them on your fridge if it can help:
- Identify your fear; for example, getting into a handstand.
- Establish the worst case scenario; I'll fall and break something.
- What would happen if this scenario came true? I'd have to go to the hospital.
- (The best part) how can I recover from this? I'd take some time to heal and put lots of pillows and practice with someone to help me next time.
More often than not, this is what happens:
- writing your fear makes it less scary;
- YOU (yes, you!) are much (much) more resourceful than you think.
You will very often find your ways to recover from your worst case scenarios.
And better even, you will often realize you'll be strong and wise enough not to let them happen.
To concquering fear,
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