The only way to live bravely, to be who we are truly meant to be, is to face our fears instead of letting them cripple us. While you cannot always remove all your fears, you can always act in spite of them to become your best self.
There are two types of fear – the rational, helpful kind moving you to act in dangerous situations; and the irrational, paralyzing kind stopping you from realizing your full potential. Most of the time, I know in my gut whether or not a fear is rational. When my young son runs into the middle of a parking lot, I have a logical fear he will be hit by a car. This is a natural, healthy instinct propelling me into action, giving me the adrenaline rush I need to grab my son and remove him from danger. On the other hand, when I am afraid to pursue something new and different, even though deep within me, I know it is what I am being called to do, I am dealing with irrational fear. The most recent area of my life where I have faced this kind of fear is in trying to become a writer. In fact, when I first started writing this article, I was completely crippled by fear. I thought, “Why am I writing this? Who do I think I am to try to be a writer? I have never had anything published – what makes me think I am good enough to have an article published?”
I have been crippled by fear before, many times. And many times, I have let fear completely stop me from being the woman and mother that I know I can be. But, there have also been other times … times when I have been brave. And when I look back to each of those other moments in my life, when I have actually followed through on doing something supremely scary, I remember how to be brave.
1. Put Pen to Paper
There are times I am afraid, and I don’t even know why. I get stuck. The first step in getting unstuck is to find out exactly what I’m afraid of. Journaling helps discover the root cause of deep-seated, hidden fears. When you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard as the case may be, a unique cognitive process happens that can’t be unleashed any other way. There’s just something about writing that breaks down our defense mechanisms so that the truth can come out.
Start by writing down what you are afraid of, letting your pen flow freely until you have nothing left to write. Just as when I first started writing this article, I questioned if I really had the ability to be a writer and why I was doing it. I knew I was afraid of failing. What I discovered through writing was that I was afraid of much more than failing. I was terrified that I was being an incredibly selfish, horrible wife and mother by pursuing this passion of writing. After all, I already had a full time job. Any leftover time should be spent taking care of my husband or nurturing my children, right?
2. Connect With God
When I go to God, I am reminded that I am worth more than any accomplishment, more than any applause, more than any amount of money. I can move forward with all of my fears about the outcomes, because I know that even if they all come true, it won’t mean I am not worthy.
3. Phone a Friend
Often our minds skew things to the point where we can’t trust our own perspective, even when we use introspective tools like writing and praying. Telling someone else what you are afraid of can take the power out of the fear. Sharing our humanness with each other transforms shameful secrets into powerful bonds.
Be careful to pick only a few close, trusted advisors when sharing fears. Friends who will really listen and provide objective support. We all have people in our lives that just tell us what we want to hear. Others have their own hidden fears that cloud their ability to listen to us without personalizing what they are hearing.
4. Do It Anyway
Chances are, writing, praying and talking about your fears will lessen them, but, you will still not be completely unafraid. I have never been able to totally eradicate fear from my life. The final step in being brave is to act in spite of your fear. Just take the next step, without worrying or thinking about the step after that. Do it even though you are afraid. Your fears will not kill you, I promise. And once you take the next step, the step after that will become easier.
Trust yourself. Even if you don’t fully understand how you will get past the next step, you can take it. Whatever it is, you don’t have to be paralyzed by fear. The fear will not last forever, and if your experiences are like mine, it will be replaced with an even stronger faith. The understanding you will have after you follow what your gut is telling you to do will not be the understanding you have now. All you have to do is take that next step.
Originally posted on Hello, Darling (http://www.mops.org/blog/ways-to-stop-fear-from-crippling-you)