Dealing with Fear

Fear is an ever-present emotion lurking in the recesses of all of our minds.  When it comes to the forefront it can be overpowering and paralyzing.  There are varying degrees, some subtle, some fleeting, some constant.  Regardless of the catalyst, it can be such a powerful force that it can alter our lives.  But we have the power to retake control.

Bo Forbes, a psychologist, yoga teacher, and yoga therapist, whose workshops I have attended, recently wrote:

. . .fear is universal and we can’t expect to get rid of it.   What then do we do with it since it causes so much physical and emotional distress? How can we make it work for us rather than against us?

. . .we are most vulnerable to fear and disintegration during life transitions . .. The frightening thing about these times is uncertainty: We’re neither the person we used to be, nor the one we’re about to become. The lack of definition is challenging, but there’s more to it: In the hugely unstructured space of transitions, we catch a glimpse of the person we could be. The magnitude of that potential is scary. What if we don’t get there? What if we do?

During transitions, we contend with cultural and personal beliefs about our limitations and responsibilities; beliefs which often keep us from moving forward.

Unaddressed fear becomes toxic; it erodes our mind, body, and spirit. When we try to avoid our fear, we feed it.

To endure uncertainty [means to] live in spaces that can feel frightening, barren, or lacking in structure. How willing are we to go through the death of old structures in our lives? How ready are we to tolerate lack of definition? The more willing and ready we are, the more we can use fear as an impetus for growth.”

You can find more of her essay “Facing Uncertainties and Transitioning Through Them” in the online magazine “Fear.less”.  I encourage you to check it out.  Click on the link to “Archives” and browse.  You will see some familiar names among the contributors.  One of the blogs I particularly liked is titled “Remember Your Good Parts”.  Here is an excerpt:

“We’re anxious, fearful, insecure people. These parts have a lot of pull over us and even when we fight against our own wretchedness and try to improve, we still lose. We begin to believe that no matter how much we do, we just can’t change.

What if instead of exhausting ourselves with doubt, we listened to the parts of us that encourage? You know the ones. We forget them because it takes quiet and safety for them to come out, and bullying ourselves doesn’t make us feel safe.

But these parts do (very much) exist. And when they are heard and heeded, they’re powerful.”

All of this is relevant any time you feel the need for change in your life.  Think about the changes you’d like to make now – for example, making time for yourself, developing some positive habits or overcoming some negative ones.  Maybe these don’t seem that important, but you may find that one of the barriers to making these changes is really fear.  Overcoming fear in these areas can inspire you to move through it when it arises in other areas of your life.  So it’s worth experimenting.   Don’t wait for “the right” time.  All you really have is this moment, so there is no better time than right now!  You can do it!

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