Last night Fear woke me up – again. Lately I’m pushing up against some old stories and beliefs that tell me what I can and can’t have. These are stories of LACK and LIMITS and UNWORTHINESS…not fun. Really! And yet, they contain gold for me if I’m willing to do some digging. So, there in the middle of the night I had a little talk with Fear. (To me Fear appears as a dark figure in a trench coat and hat, you can’t see his features, but he’s menacing, lurking in the shadows ready to pop out and wreck my day – or night, That is why I call my fear “him”.) “Fear”, I said, “I’ll talk with you in the morning. I know you want to help, but I need my sleep.” Eventually, he left me alone and I slept, but I knew this was an appointment I needed to keep.
After breakfast we sat down with a journal and a pen and began talking. This is a practice I do when I feel tense, scattered, confused, stressed. Or when I keep waking up in the night! It always helps. I start by letting Fear say his part – for as long as that takes – I write down his worries, fears, concerns, character assassinations (my character, of course), etc. At some point he begins to repeat himself and that’s when we stop. As I write I’m not judging, just listing. Sometimes an insight will come up and I note that down to come back to later.
Today Fear told me:
- I have nothing of value to offer.
- No-one likes me.
- I have no skills.
- I’ll starve and end up in a horrible place at the mercy of horrible people.
All of this (and more) keeps coming up, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. But that’s how Fear works. I actually know he cares about me, he wants to help, but his methodology is really screwed up! He thinks that by scaring me he’ll get me to stop doing new things and stretching myself. He thinks that makes me safe.
Oh, he of little faith.
Ironically, stopping assures that the worst case scenario can happen. Not to mention the hell of living with my fears as my MO in the world. No thanks!
Here are a few tools I employ to deal with the fears that come up, and how I get Fear to help me, for real. These tools will help give you some space away from your fears which allows more clarity, more sanity, more joy! Assuming your fears are here to help you can make them less upsetting and scary too. (Note: There are times just writing out my fears clears the air and I can move on – these ideas are for when that doesn’t work.)
- First, I look at each fear and see if it has helpful information for me. For example, I might look at “I have no skills” and ask what skills I feel I’m missing that would be honestly useful. It’s true there are some skills I want to take the time to learn – particularly technology skills. So, now I can schedule time to address that. Because I listened to Fear he feels better already!
- Next I search my fears for “truth”. Using the same fear as above I ask, “Is it true I have no skills, like zero?” And of course that isn’t true at all. It is something I fear though, regardless of how ludicrous it may be.
- So, next I find evidence. I look for the things I know I can do – this can start really simple (and may need to if the fear is pretty strong) like: “I am skilled at walking. I can drive like a boss. My eating abilities are amazing!” By the way – laughter is a great antidote to fear, so rock that too! Keep going with the evidence. And if you get stuck ask someone who loves you. They know your skills and will share some with you that you didn’t even know about or see.
The most important thing here is to really feel the delight of being skilled. Sense into the opposite of the fear. No one likes you – ha! Everyone you like also likes you. Feel it. You have no value? You are not just valued, you are value, inherently. We’re not dismissing or running from our fears – we’re getting honest about them. These can run in the background and mess with our ability to make good decisions for our lives. We’re acknowledging them and allowing them to be useful. That is a win-win!
- Finally, for any fears that didn’t work with the previous tools, try this…
Ask Fear, and yourself, what is this really about? Allow yourself to let the answer come up. You can say “If this happens/is true, then _______” to get more information. For example, the last fear I have listed “I’ll starve and end up in a horrible place at the mercy of horrible people” is a future-type fear. It’s practically a national-obsession-type fear. So I ask, what is this really about for me right now?
The real fear here, and in most future-type fears, is loss of something that you have now that you value. Like a safe home, a good income, a lot of amazing people you love, relative freedom, etc. These types of fears are pretty insidious because they require faith to overcome them. We can look for evidence that this has never, ever happened to you before, or that it has and you overcame it. But we also have heard cautionary tales of the horrible things that have happened to others. We might have seen it firsthand. We fear It could happen to us in the future. This can be scary stuff. They’re also the types of fears that tend to show up during times of transition in your life – when things are changing.
For these my first step is to turn it over to a Higher Power – your Higher Power of choice. I ask for help. I have faith that I am heard, and I am safe. I see and feel how safe and blessed I am right now, and I focus on that delicious feeling. I focus on how grand my life is right now. I live right here. This will (if you’re anything like me…) require repetition, and more repetition. The number of times you have allowed your self to go over and over the bad things that could happen, that is how many times you need to recall that you are safe, life is good, and you have access to just the help you need right now.
And then I have faith in myself. I see how I’ve managed to take care of myself all of my life until now, even when it wasn’t perfect it was OK. I note when I handled things well, when I overcame heartache, tragedy, sadness – knowing I can handle anything at all that I need to. I give myself credit – I know that I am the hero of my life!
Next, I ask Fear to help me by telling me why he fears this outcome. Many times when I have these fears I find there are areas of my life where I’m not giving it my best. I’m not focused, I’m not paying attention. You’ll be amazed what helpful information is running around in the back of your mind waiting for you to just give it some air time! I pay attention and then I take steps to care for myself, for my money, my home, my freedom – whatever addresses my legitimate concerns. Taking inspired action is a great way to dispel fear!
Fears are scary. That’s how they get our attention. But they’re also trying to help us. I believe that. I hope these tools are of use to you in living & creating your amazing life! If you have any questions you can contact me here or schedule a free session here. I’d love to hear from you!
Note: The information above is meant for normal fears and fearfulness. There are times when fears will not give us good information – when they’re overwhelming and too much to tackle alone. If you’re in a situation like this please contact a professional – a psychologist or other therapist can help you.