The Paradox of Fear
As a way to overcome fear there are people who purposefully place themselves in dangerous life threatening situations.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 dangers rather than face their internal troubles.
Facing ourselves is not just looking at our failings, flaws or mistakes, it is also facing where we are truly powerless (or paradoxically powerful) such with the losses associated with aging, the experience of illness and of course death. We cannot change the reality of these things but we can change how we relate and respond to them.
However instead of working on our inner world to develop new skills and abilities to face fear…skills and abilities that would help us relate and respond from a stronger more centered space… 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 with enough consciousness there are times when facing great danger 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!
Change Fear from the Inside Out
There is good news about facing our fears from the inside out! 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 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.