Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them. Fear is a powerful and primitive human emotion. It alerts us to the presence of danger and were critical in keeping our ancestors alive. Fear can actually be divided into two stages, biochemical and emotional. The biochemical response is universal, while the emotional response is highly individualized.
Fear is a part of the human condition — it can’t be annihilated, and it can’t be ignored. So I decided to accept the fact that, anxiety and you will be lifelong friends. Looking at it that way, though — as a friend more than an enemy — has allowed me to avoid becoming completely entangled in its grips and use it for the good, to the best of my ability.
A lot of us are afraid to stand out. We don’t want to be seen as too prideful or attention seeking, yet at the same time, we live in a culture that thrives on being seen. How many of us measure our worth by what people think of us, by how we look, how much money we make, what type of car we drive, and what type of job we have.
As a human we have this feeling of fear, ego, desire, and creativity that we live with every day. Think of it this way, fear and ego are best friends and creativity and desire are best friends and they are all with you all the time. You can never get rid of these four feeling’s, but you can analyze, realize and understand them. There are times in everyone’s life when fear will be a part of your experience, but don’t treat it like a horror flick to be avoided — seek out fear for the positive things it can bring about in your life. Not all fear are bad.
Fear. It instructs us. It haunts us. It keeps us alive
Imagine if you didn’t have any fear at all. You might lead a rather reckless life, putting yourself and others in danger. But, for many of us, fear follows us like a lap dog, crawling all over us at the most inopportune moments, hindering us from moving forward, even if we wanted to. Fear isn’t always a negative thing. There is a negative, immobilizing fear. But there is also a type of fear by which we can learn and be motivated to change. Maybe the original Greek, Hebrew, or whomever had two or three words to define fear. I don’t know. I’m no bible scholar. But I do know that some fear is OK. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Obviously, that is a good fear, fear of not driving your car 150 miles and die, fear of being careful what you say to others not to hurt their feelings, fear of dying and making sure you have to take care of your health, fear of making sure your family is always happy, healthy, and safe and passing on your wisdom to them to make sure their in the right path in their life. The fear that I have is more of the positive kind that motivates a person to learn and to respond. So when the feeling of desire come’s to mind and your creativity idea looks amazing and you want to do something about it, fear will attack you and will tell you that you can’t do this. So lets look at what fear would say to you when you thinking about making a change.
- You have no talent
- You will be rejected, criticized, ridiculed or misunderstood and worst of all ignored.
- Your afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefor there’s no point in pursuing it.
- Your afraid somebody else already did it better.
- Your afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever.
- Your afraid you won’t be taken seriously.
- Your afraid your dreams are embarrassing.
- Your afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money.
- Your afraid that you don’t have the right kind of discipline.
- Your afraid that your too fat..
- Your afraid that you neglected your creativity and desire for so long that now you can never get it back.
Why and how does it do this? Bad fear keeps us from changing. We don’t want change because change is scary. Yep. Change is scary, and so we’d prefer to keep things stagnant, not change, and staying fearful is a great way to stay put. But here’s the funny part: Everything will change! And it’s the clinging to “the way things are” that actually causes the most pain and suffering, within us and around us.
So, what to do? Embrace change and kill bad fear.
We cling to that safe harbor of the “known” because the unknown wide ocean is just so darn unknown, so knee-wobbly scary. But consider this, what if the early explorers always kept to the same known safe harbors. Who would have finally ventured out, way out, into the wild blue ocean to seek and journey? For what? For the unknown. For change. It takes courage to venture to the unknown territories of ourselves and the world around us. To venture to the unknown. Here’s how to do it:
1. Harness Energy
A car with no gas goes nowhere. Without energy we go nowhere. Seems obvious and yet so few really focus on how to create and harness our internal energy. Our energy comes from what we put in our bodies (mostly vegetables, organic, and no processed foods), how much we recharge (sleep 8 hours a night), and how well we take care of our machinery (exercise – something, anything, just use the body). Our energy is our most important asset. No energy no change, just a lot of fear and loathing and stagnancy. Start with the energy or you’ll go nowhere.
2. Practice Awareness
With a full tank of energy we can begin. To see. To hear. To become aware of the situation at hand. Just labeling the actual fear disassociates it from us and allows the first step in moving forward, relaxing, and changing to a “towards, positive” state of being. There’s a quote I like, “If you know what you’re doing, then you can do what you want” (Moshe Feldenkrais). It’s true.
Learn to practice being aware and things get clearer and easier to deal with. Learn to practice awareness. Rituals (like tea!) certainly help by serving as awareness training grounds. Just noticing things, feelings, sensations, surroundings, helps prevent getting overwhelmed by them. Feeling fearful? Notice the feeling, and label it “fear.” Notice what happens. Does it get more or less consuming?
While awareness let’s us “see” and identify what’s happening, focus let’s us harness our energy to do something about it. The key with focus is that it requires banishing distraction. First becoming aware of it, then banishing it. But distraction feels good. It’s addictive. It releases dopamine, a chemical in our body that is released when we see something new (it’s meant to protect us by drawing our attention to a new threat). Similar to cocaine actually in the feel good effects. And yet getting distracted hurts awareness. And if we’re not aware then we stay stuck, in that sticky safety of the known. Focus is connected to awareness because we need to be aware of that pull of distraction. But, we need the energy and strength to say “no” to it, to remain on task, to stay focused. Good ample energy, gives us willpower, to stay focused.