Fear keeps us right where we are, right now. It feels of concrete wrapping around our legs preventing a step forward. It keeps us awake at night with worry and overthinking. Fear is this huge emotion that impacts us emotionally and physically but what is it exactly? I believe it is self-imposed limit striking at our very core of what is safe and small. Like a web, fear knows us better than we know ourselves at times and doesn’t sugar coat the reasons of why we are not enough. Instead it soaks deeply into our minds pausing progress, preventing future dreams and telling us we are not worthy. It is the real monster inside of us all.
Sooner or later something is going to come along and present a change that is unavoidable for us. We are going to encounter changes in our body, strength, skill, relationships, jobs, interests, money and more. Changes in and around us manifesting constantly and yet we struggle with fear of many of them. While we know change is unavoidable, we also fear it because we fear failure, loss, insecurity, discomfort and the unknown and risk. We rationalize it is better to put it off the change acceptance until we cannot anymore and then hopefully the risk will not be so bad and we can figure it out then. We let fear tell us it’s better to wait and stay small and safe in the familiar where we are now, even if we are not happy, fulfilled or complete. It is better than what is “out there.”
How many times in my own life has fear stopped me short! I look back and think what I missed as a result of holding back with my own limits. Perhaps it would have blown up, failed, I would have been rejected but I won’t know now. I played it safe letting my mind and emotions direct my actions and not find out. Fear is much like a bully who tries to take your lunch money every day until one day you do push back. The adrenaline of that bold move uncertain what will come next but going anyway.
We often think it has to be all or nothing and sometimes it does when it comes to doing what is necessary. We forget though there are just as many times we can dip our toe in and take a small experience before applying it everywhere in our life. It takes us making that first move however. It takes us allowing fear to state it’s case and then moving forward in a big or small way to challenge that fear. Experiencing that moment of the first step and accepting we are alright with not knowing where it is going or what will happen but knowing it is absolutely right for us to do this now. No more fear bully. No more stuck in concrete. We will figure this out and we will survive it better or worse.
We forget that doing something slowly isn’t a bad thing. I think too often in our world we see everything like Amazon Prime shipping with a 2 day delivery promise. Sometimes it’s worth taking it slower and more intentionally to find out what we really want and need and how those wants and needs can be satisfied in a way nothing else has achieved despite its speed. The problem with slow moving in fear is we can use it as a crutch to stop completely. However, when we take it slow we can also experience tremendous growth that feels good to us and enables us to keep going on our own pace.
Our world is filled with fear. 2020 has certainly provided a clear view of just how much we have to fear in our world and communities as well as how much we ourselves create and expand that fear. Fear makes us act in ways we would not normally from being frozen and unable to respond to rioting, looting and hurting others. We are surrounded by fear and it spreads like a virus infecting all of us across the globe with uncertainty, unknowns and threats to our security and way of life. We hold our children tighter, getting quieter and smaller in hopes it passes us by with minimal impact.
Sometimes fear is our protector guiding us to safe passage. The good of fear in these situations is important to trust and follow. Our intuition is an emotional response to fear that can protect us and help us out of scary situations that threaten our livelihood. I have been grateful for those times my intuition kicked in and I could avoid a disastrous situation in my life or at least lessen its impact. It has helped me leave bad environments, and bad people for my own safety and sanity.
It is when however we let fear drive everything in our every day living that we lose sight of what we are truly capable of doing, having, experiencing, achieving and feeling in our life. The ability to control fear to help us when we need it and stay in check when we need to be brave instead is a skill that sometimes we don’t work on enough. When we have emerged from a situation that we were guided by from fear and intuition we learn from those experiences. We see risks and take our next steps carefully until we have our confidence back. Sometimes though we don’t get our confidence back and we don’t take that next step because we are traumatized by that fear that the bad situation or person or environment could happen again.
As I’ve looked at this year’s experiences with COVID-19, rioting, looting, destruction of history and relationships I have fear. I feel concerned for my family’s safety and what is going to happen in our country. I worry for my son growing up seeing these events and experiencing the loss of being able to play with his friends or attend school. What is that doing to him? I worry about my job’s security and how challenging it would be to try and find another job in the midst of all that is occurring in our world. Fear of these things has kept me up at night, caused me to spend time reading various opinions on what is happening and becoming even more concerned for what my own family should be prepared for. It feels like fear taking over my actions and asking questions for what we need to do in the event of something bad happening.
It is not easy to consider how to live naturally with the swirl of fearful thoughts taking over. Living naturally does not mean we don’t have fear or are not impacted by the events of the world or situations we encounter that are scary every day. We are not excluded from experiencing the same fears, pains, traumas and hurts from bad things that happen in life. We are also not excluded from being afraid of it. What is different I believe is our own ability to create a different response based on clear headedness and calmness. Making sense of the fear to create options that enable us to not only find safety but to create it for ourselves and our children.
When I look at the my own fear for what is occurring in the world right now I admit I am scared. There are plenty of doomsday theories, radical opinions and just vast speculation that you can definitely get yourself worried quickly. I have too. After I start to feel that fear creeping up in my chest and my mind swirling with thoughts of what if situations I challenge myself to take a deep breath. I encourage myself to slow down the non-stop thoughts of how situations will unfold and just breath. In this moment I am ok. My family is safe. We are alright right now. We can figure this out.
Being able to breathe in these moments when things are uncertain and we feel fear is what allows us to take control. Intentionally focusing on our own breath and the very moment we are in right now is an important step to figuring out how we respond to fear. It is that slow moment in the height of an action film where the hero decides to go for it but you notice they always first take a breath. The actions we take from a place of calmness and centeredness are always more impactful for us positively than a knee jerk reaction made when we have no other choices.
Finding those aspects where we can be proactive and responsive in a way that is right for us and intentional in our actions gives us that strength to push back on the fear bully and move with assurance that we will emerge from these situations that are scary.
The difference is in how we respond to the monster of fear inside all of us. The difference impacts us mentally and physically while giving us the ability to form that path to safety if we need or have the endurance to push back the fear and move forward. Fear may stem from within us but so does strength and calmness for what we do about it. The more we come from a place of center within our being the more we can respond rather than react to the fear also brewing inside and around us.
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