We have a paradox in our culture , actually many of them, 🙂 but today I am addressing the one where people purposefully place themselves in dangerous life threatening situations supposedly as a way to overcome fear.
The paradox is that those same folks may actually be avoiding their deepest fears! Hard to tell unless you know them and their circumstances but there is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that some would rather face all kinds of external fears than face themselves.
Facing ourselves is not just looking at our failings, flaws or mistakes, it is also facing where we are truly powerless (or paradoxically powerful), the losses associated with aging, the experience of illness and of course death.
Instead of working on our own internal landscape to develop new skills and abilities that would help us be more graceful, we distract ourselves, keep frantically busy, focus on others’ failings, get caught in compulsive or addictive behaviors, or tune out in some other creative way.
Before getting to the suggestions for changing fear from the inside out, I must say that there are times when facing great danger and possible extreme bodily injury can in fact provide a springboard for tapping courage that can be brought to other more internal fears or insecurities. However, in my opinion, the side effects or repercussions from voluntarily exposing oneself to extreme danger seems a little shaky in terms of a well thought out plan for conquering fear! But, we ARE all different.
So what do we do in order to conquer fear?
There is good news about facing our fears! The ultimate is that once we do they evaporate and open up a whole lot of space for our authentic selves to shine through–and no broken bones or viper venom to deal with—usually!
Here are six steps that can help.
1. Identify False Beliefs
Questioning how you perceive the world and challenging your beliefs can help begin the process of letting go of fear. It can feel tricky to sort out limiting beliefs because we have lived with them as truth for much of our lives.
Listening to your inner dialogue and challenging it, observing your habitual patterns and thinking more deeply about what they may be saying, and questioning what may be behind reactive behaviors can all help to illuminate false beliefs.
2. Ask some new questions
What are you really afraid of?
What is the likelihood that it will happen?
How can you look at the issue differently?
What if you were free of your fear, what would you do?
3. Does staying stuck in your fear help you in some way?
Sometimes we are not willing to do what it takes or are afraid of the new responsibilities or roles that come with a deep change—it’s good to know that!
Some helpful questions:
How does this fear serve me, protect me, or help me maintain an identity?
What am I avoiding by not facing or moving through this fear?
Do I want to accept this way of being or move through the fear of change?
4. Identify the needs behind your fear
Our needs are not usually a problem. How we go about getting them met due to our unconsciousness is what trips us up. If you can be clear about what you need and seek positive means to fill those needs the negative can fall away.
5. Adopt a Perspective of Strength
Access inner states when you felt strong, able, confident and bring those feelings to the forefront of your awareness when seeking to face fear. When we are in fear our energy contracts and we feel weak and unable to cope…our biochemistry runs amok and we are unable to access clear thinking or creative solutions.
When we calm ourselves we can access strong internal states and can link those feelings to new situations and benefit through own inner resources—a deep feeling of trusting ourselves can be a side benefit here in addition to collapsing the fear.
You can also ask yourself if there are new strengths that are trying to be born through the challenge of the fear you are facing. What new ability or quality is trying to be born in you? If this were the perfect situation to point you in a new direction, what would that be?
6. Use grounding and centering techniques on a regular basis
Quieting body and mind, centering and grounding your energy goes a long way to calming the biochemistry of fear (fight/flight/freeze) and being able to employ some of the other methods mentioned here. It can also open you up to higher ways of knowing that can guide you on your journey to freedom from fear.
Fear like stress is a part of life. We do have the ability to conquer it, if we reach deep, open to new information and perhaps try some new approaches. Fear creates–easily and readily given the intensity of its grip. We need to become aware and more conscious within ourselves, as well as to engage practices that counterbalance fear in order to claim our freedom to live with more ease, health and happiness.