Feel the fear and do it anyway

Deep water, breaking a bone and baked beans

Ok, I'm not frightened of baked beans, but I really don't like being too close to them and I've never broken a bone, so I find the thought of it pretty terrifying. I hope I've not jinxed myself there! Deep water that you can't see the bottom of is something I'd rather avoid too. Thank you very much. 

I've been thinking about fear a lot recently. Mainly because being a relatively newbie to being self-employed means that a lot of things that you do feel like you've plunged yourself into a shark infested tank or slightly more terrifying. But if I look back at the last six months and everything I've achieved, I have managed to conquer many things I thought I couldn't do and things that were really quite scary. Some I now don't even flinch at (well maybe a twitch). Well done me!


How can you conquer your fear?

Fear is generated by the thoughts that we have, rather than the thing itself. You are trying to predict the outcome, control what happens or thinking the worst. Focusing all your attention in the present moment will reconnect you with what is going on right now. Its impossible to be fearful of something that hasn't happened yet. Think about it, its true. This can already start to give you a more positive perspective of the thing that you are afraid of.

I'm currently reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called Fear. A Vietnamese spiritual teacher who runs a retreat village in France, I find his writings both interesting, informative and beautifully written. It's amazing how many things just dropped in to place. How we suppress our fear until it becomes all consuming and how we are holding the fear of many of our ancestors. If you can acknowledge your fear and surround it with positivity, suddenly it doesn't seem so bad.


5 tips for getting real when fear strikes

  1. Take a few deep breaths and centre yourself in the moment. Be aware when your attention starts to wonder to the thing that you are fearful of. Surround it with thick smoke and breath it out until its completely dissolved. Breath in peace, reassurance, light and fearlessness.

  2. Go and do something fun, that makes you laugh and let go. You inner child might be frightened. Talk to them, reassure them and then go and enjoy yourself.

  3. Repeat positive affirmations as you breathe in and out 'Breathing in, I make my mind happy, breathing out I make my mind happy. Breathing in, I calm my mind, breathing out I calm my mind. Breathing in, I observe letting go, breathing out, I observe letting go.

  4. Make friends with your fear. Give it a name if you want to and each time it appears welcome it and let it know you will take good care of it.

  5. Write down things you are grateful for. That you have eyes to see, legs to walk with, access to food and drink. Focusing on the positives can put your fear into perspective and reduce it's impact on you in the here and now.


Calm fear with kindness

Notice that you aren't fighting your fear. This is a partnership, rather than a battle. When you are faced with fear or the thought of something frightening happening, you can be hard on yourself and beat yourself up.  Why I am being so stupid? This is ridiculous and so on. Making a conscious effort to be kind to yourself by practising metta, a meditation can help you to support yourself. I like this one from the book.

Sit in stillness, calm your breath and release any tension in your body. Repeat silently to yourself until you feel calmer:

May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit

May I be free and safe from injury

May I be free from fear, anxiety, anger and afflictions

This will help you gain a sense of peace and love towards yourself. If you want to you can then share this with those closest to you, friends and family, people you are having difficulty with and complete strangers. The more you share the more it comes back to you. Replacing I with 'he/she/they.


No-lose decisions

The other book that I think is great for looking at how you manage your fear is Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. This is the abridged version, but I got everything that I needed from it. It has some great tips to change you approach to fear and this is a good one if you are faced with making a difficult decision, which is bring up fearful feelings.

If you think that all decisions are no-lose, something will happen, which will lead to something else and so on. You are changing things by taking a course of action. It allows you to make the decision and move on. It removes the drama and stress and the sometimes paralysing fear of making the wrong decision.

As a very wise lady I know says 'if you don't do anything, it's a no anyway!' I'll keep trying to move closer to the baked beans then!


Everything you want is the other side of fear
— Jack Canfield