“Break free of the trap your fear sets for you”
Fear can be powerful
Fear is a powerful, gripping emotion. It can cause panic attacks. Anxiety can make you stop dead in your tracks and stay there. It can consume your mind, body and spirit.
But it doesn't have to.
Everyone has fears!
I certainly do (for example….being the center of attention, being judged, etc)! I've seen my kids, loved ones and friends experience fear. The only difference between you and people you admire is that they have walked through their fears. Or they are continuing to walk through their fears. They have learned that facing their fears can lead to accomplishing their dreams. The flipside is also true: not walking through your fears leaves you stuck in the same place. People you admire have also learned that while walking through their anxieties isn't an easy thing to do, it's not nearly as bad as we can make it out to be in our heads.
I want to help you learn to walk through your fears so that you, too, can reach for the stars and attain your goals and live your dreams.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” –Nelson Mandela
Identify Your Fear
In order to do anything productive with your fear, you need to first identify what it is. I don't know about you, but sometimes I have a hard time simply recognizing that I'm scared. Other times I might recognize that I'm afraid, but I don't know why. I'm just gripped with the intense emotion of fear.
There can also be shame associated with feeling fear. And the feeling of shame can keep people from exploring or challenging their fears.
If you can relate to any of this, here are some things to try doing to identify the fear that you are experiencing:
- journaling – don't think, just write whatever comes to mind and then go back and look at it – amazing things can be revealed!
- talking with a trusted friend or mentor – be vulnerable!
- talking with a professional
What did you discover? Identify your fear or fears so that it is out in the open and gets some fresh air. You just might find that doing that alone helps take some of the power out of it so that you feel a little less anxious and/or shameful about it.
Remember, everyone has fears – sometimes they make sense to other people and sometimes they don't. It doesn't matter. We're talking about your feelings and how to help you get to a place where you don't feel controlled by the emotions.
“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. ” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Explore the “Why” Behind Your Fear
Why are you afraid?
Think about any associations you have around this fear that you have identified. Is some emotional wound triggering it? A childhood experience, maybe?
For example, I am very shy and introverted by nature. I used to hide behind my mom whenever someone would come talk to her. Being the center of attention and talking to people I don't know are terrifying for me. I literally used to avoid talking to strangers or being the center of attention at all costs! In fact, it got so bad for a while that I wouldn't even talk to adults I didn't know because I was so self-conscious and afraid of being judged. I would only talk to kids because I felt more comfortable there.
In this particular instance, I was not able to identify any single incident or experience that caused this fear to become what it was. I think it was just a combination of natural personality traits that I didn't push through and so they became limits. I literally thought I couldn't say anything worthwhile to an adult I didn't know – and as a result, I became very isolated for a long time.
Face Your Fears
“Courage is Fear that has said its Prayers” –Dorothy Bernard
Being brave doesn't mean that you don't feel fear. Being brave means that you are willing to walk through the fear that you're experiencing.
Think about a time that you did something other people would call brave. Looking back on it, you could perhaps call it crazy. But you were scared and you did it anyway. It can be something big like going rock climbing when you're afraid of heights or skydiving. But it can also be something that may not sound as impressive, like giving a speech to a small group of people or starting your own small business.
Those times in my life when I was most afraid to do something but did it anyway are some of the most memorable and rewarding times of my life!
Have you heard the phrase “fake it until you make it”? That one has taken me far. That's because I have the opportunity to act “as if”….as if I belong somewhere I feel self-conscious being there, as if I know what I'm doing when I'm feeling completely insecure, and more.
“When you face your fear, most of the time you will discover that it was not really such a big threat after all. We all need some form of deeply rooted, powerful motivation / it empowers us to overcome obstacles so we can live our dreams” –Les Brown
Do the Thing You're Most Afraid Of
One thing I have done has been to purposefully get jobs that would push me out of my comfort zone and make me interact with people in a way that made me uncomfortable. My biggest leap to date has been becoming a group exercise instructor.
This job combines so many of my fears that it blows my mind that I do this several times a week!
My fears include:
- I have to be the center of attention
- literally, everyone is watching me to know what to do – if I stop, they stop!
- I am human and screw up all the time (just screwed up the choreography today, as a matter of fact), so I could be judged by the people who come to my class.
But here's the thing: it's an amazing job! It's fun and challenging, and it helps other people. I was terrified when I started teaching classes, but now I absolutely love it!
Finding a new freedom
Guess what? I've even started letting loose and being silly and trying new moves while I'm teaching class, even when it means I might look silly doing them.
Oh, it feels incredible! I feel so much more free in that area of my life because I made the decision to put in the work and time to walk through that fear.
Now if the time ever came when I was asked to give a speech or something similar, I might have to face that fear again. However, because I walked through it with the example of teaching classes, I feel more confident that I could walk through that too.
The icing on the cake is that the very thing that terrifies you the most may turn out to be something you have a real talent for; or it may be a crucial stepping stone in your personal growth journey.
How to help kids learn to face fear
Now that we've talked about how to deal with our own fears, how do we help our kiddos deal with their fears?
Understanding their fears
Kids aren't really too much different from us.
The why behind their fear might be slightly different, though. Your child might be scared facing an unfamiliar situation, have an active imagination, or might be revisiting a previous bad experience. However, by showing support and empathy, you can help your child overcome their fears.
To get to the source of your child’s fears, ask them what first made them feel scared and why. Listen closely to their answers, which will give you a better understanding of what they are thinking.
To show them that being afraid is just an emotion and is okay, tell them about a time that you felt anxious that everything turned out fine.
Take their fears seriously
Don't ignore your child's fear
If your child is scared of a particular relative, caregiver, neighbor, or anyone else, do not ignore it or force the child to be with them.
Instead, talk with your child about it and ask him/her to explain why that person scares them. Even if you think that the person is harmless, give your child the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes you don't know what you don't know, and really listening to your child in these types of instances can be illuminating.
Don't make light of your child’s fears
Making fun of a child’s fear or teasing him/her will have the opposite intended effect. Instead of helping the situation, it will increase his/her anxiety and lower his/her self-esteem. This can exacerbate the problem and be the cause of developing phobias down the road.
Humor your child and check for “monsters”
Look in the closet, under the bed and anywhere else. Turn on the light or shine a flashlight to show that nothing is there and your child is safe.
If sounds or shadows frighten your child, demonstrate the causes of these sounds and shapes in a loving way. Taking a few minutes to do this will provide a huge benefit to your kiddo.
Make sure your child knows he or she is loved
Make it clear that you are there to love, protect, and support your child. Give him/her a big hug and some words of encouragement.
Communicate that it's ok to be afraid, and everyone is scared of something. Also, explain that it's okay to share his/his fear and ask for help.
Helping your kids walk through fear will help provide your kids with the tools to overcome their anxiety which is a huge win for both of you!
It isn't an easy task to face your fears. However, when you do it, you'll discover that what you were afraid of really wasn't as scary as you had made it out to be. You'll feel a huge sense of accomplishment that you did the thing that made you afraid. As a parent, helping your kids walk through their fears will give them the tools to do it themselves as they get older.
So walk through your fear and go live boldly, my friend!
Comment below: what is one of your biggest fears?
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