Using Fear to Help You Grow - dummies

Using Fear to Help You Grow

By S. Renee Smith, Vivian Harte

There’s only one way to grow from fear: You have to step into it. Attempting to avoid fear is like trying to walk through the rain without getting wet. It’s impossible.

Do you recall the first time you were fearful? Was it the first day of school? Or your first speaking engagement? Did it creep up on you during your first date? Fear is a frightening thought that you chase away by consciously acting on what’s intimidating you.

Even though you’ve confronted the monstrous emotion before and proven its powerlessness, fear can still cause you to hesitate to act on something you desire because it makes you feel unsure of yourself. It can also come in the form of a message or an intuitive feeling that you shouldn’t act on something.

Respond to the following questions to get better acquainted with how you deal with fear:

  • When was the first time you felt fear?

  • How did you deal with it?

  • What did you learn from stepping into fear? Or not stepping into fear?

  • What would you like to do today that you’re not doing because of fear?

  • What’s stopping you from stepping into it?

Understanding fear and where it comes from

You’ve likely heard that fear is an illusion, a deceptive tactic of an internal enemy trying to stop you from accomplishing your purpose. We don’t want to insult you by telling you that what you believe isn’t true, because whatever you believe is true for you.

Because fear appears at different times in your life and for different reasons, we want to help you develop the tools to identify where it comes from so you can gain an understanding of how to best deal with it.

You don’t overcome fear by targeting fear. You feel fear because of what you believe will happen. Fear is a manifested emotion that consistently reappears to challenge you to overcome your internal issues, embrace yourself more fully, and move you closer to your life purpose.

At times, you’ll have to learn a quick strategy to outwit it until you have the time to go within and identify the core of what’s making you feel fearful. In the meantime, through consciousness and practice, you can develop your own best tactics to use fear to your advantage.

This bombshell may puzzle you, but don’t let it. It’s simple; fear is the result of a deeper concern. It seems like fear is the problem because it’s what bubbles to the top. Therefore, it’s blamed for many false starts, abrupt stops, and unending delays.

It’s accused of destroying dreams, ruining well-practiced presentations, and terminating relationships. For example, suppose you fear public speaking. At the root of your fear is being accepted by the audience or fear of making a mistake. At the root of both of these concerns is confidence. Why aren’t you confident?

Many concerns can drive fear — insecurities, past bad experiences, lack of information, undiscovered personal power, and imposed teachings. Many emotions can be found at the core of fear. But beneath every emotion that stops you from taking action is mistrust. You don’t trust yourself.

Mistrust exists for many reasons, such as past letdowns, decisions that seem valueless, lack of experience, deception, and mistreatment from others. Also, you may never have been exposed to the importance of growing self-trust. These are just a few examples; you have your own reasons for not trusting yourself.

The bottom line is this: Fear wins when you feel incapable of creating a safe place to feel good about yourself after an attempt to live your desires, regardless of the outcome.

It doesn’t matter whether the attempt involves a love relationship, business idea, job promotion, or telling a friend you don’t like how you’re being treated. Fear is a self-inflicted wound that takes control of your life when you can’t reassure yourself that — regardless of what’s on the other side — you’re going to be okay.

Uncovering your core fears

The key to the mystery is the answers to questions that perhaps you have yet to ask:

  • What do you fear?

  • Why do you fear it?

  • Do you trust yourself? Why or why not?

  • What do you think you’re incapable of doing or becoming?

  • Do you want something to happen but fear the outcome? What is it?

  • What’s at the core of your fear? For example, is it past experience, lack of information, rejection, or uncertainty?

  • Will you be okay if the outcome is different from what you expect? How can you reassure yourself of that?

Developing a friendship with your fears

Developing friendship with friends, coworkers, neighbors, or pets requires establishing rapport. You have to take the time to compassionately and patiently understand who they are and what’s important to them. Developing a friendship with your fears involves the same attention.

Remember, fear is an outcome. The goal is to establish a relationship with yourself and your deep emotional wounds that create the fear. The purpose of becoming friends is to learn how to compassionately love all of who you are. By doing so, your weaknesses become your strengths because you know what they are, and you learn how to flow with them and, when necessary, navigate around them.

It’s nice to be able to say, “You can heal from every experience.” That doesn’t mean it won’t leave any evidence of having been there. If a cut is severe, although it heals, a scar remains. The scar doesn’t hurt.

You can touch, hit, and press it. It responds like any other part of the body. The scar isn’t a symbol of pain, but a sign of love. It says, “You can do it. You can make it through anything.”

Knowing your strength beyond what you see

You’ve done it before — over and over again. You’ve made it through the most difficult moments of your life. It’s easy to forget how strong you are when you don’t pause and take inventory of what you’ve been through. Evidence shows that you’re amazingly powerful and strong.

At times you look in the mirror and see a vulnerable, confused individual you barely know. As you stare into your own eyes, you wonder: Where am I going? What am I doing? What am I going to do? These are key questions to ask yourself. They indicate that you’re aware that you’re again at a pivotal point in your life and that your life needs your attention.

Do people give you compliments that are difficult for you to own? Seeing what others see in you is difficult. Your internal strength may have pulled you through the pain of a devastating divorce, an unexpected diagnosis, or an unforeseen death.

Your personal power may have carried you through the loss of your job, betrayal from a friend, or gossip that nearly destroyed your career. Maybe you lived in a household where you were suffocated versus celebrated, and others often wonder how you made it.

Reflecting on your past can inspire you. The realization that you’ve made it through the rain and storms of life reflects back to you your inborn tenacity and fortitude.

Forgiveness comes easier when you realize that the person did the best she could at the time based on her experiences.

To help you organize your thoughts, divide your experiences into time frames based on age. Start with ages 0–5 and think about your experiences in five-year increments, for example, 0–5, 6–10, 11–15, and so on. If you haven’t faced many major challenges, increase the increment to ten years.

Think about each incident and how you overcame it. For instance, say between ages 6–10 you were physically abused. You suppressed your pain until age 25. During ages 13–24, you self-medicated by abusing drugs and your body. At age 25, you forgave the perpetrator and took control of your life. At age 33, you have a healthy marriage and relationship with your children.

This is a huge accomplishment — a true display of courage, compassion, and faith. You’re powerful far beyond what you imagined.