Facing your fears can feel daunting, but don’t let it put you off. Its one of the most liberating practises that you can learn to do. Feeling afraid was something I dreaded, but thought it only applied to me. I never opened up and shared how I felt. Many people prefer to project an image that they are fine. Its natural to not want anyone to see your vulnerability or insecurity. Unfortunately, this can keep you stuck in life. Facing your fears can be the key that sets you free.
In 1995 I read a new book by Daniel Goleman called “Emotional Intelligence” about the importance of recognising and being able to manage our emotions. It helped me to see that life was not about trying to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Instead it helped me see them as part of the natural feedback system our body uses to communicate with us. We need to know the difference between a real and threatening situation, and the normal fear and emotions that are experienced when we step outside our comfort zone.
Up until then I was letting fear and vulnerability hold me hostage. I wanted to make changes, to step outside my comfort zone – but as soon as feelings of fear and vulnerability arose within me I would give up and step back.
I know that I am not alone. Even though we know there are things we need to change about ourselves or our situation, it can still feel threatening and scary. We know a lot of the theory about the benefits of creating change, but the process of actually doing it is a different matter, as there are no guarantees that things will turn out the way we want.
So, we end up practising avoidance behaviours. This is not unusual as its a natural human response. Most people want to feel safe and secure. Unfortunately most of us were not taught how to deal with uncomfortable feelings like fear, insecurity or vulnerability, so we find our own ways of coping and this becomes a habit.
Thankfully, I was lucky to be given a very useful piece of advice that would change how I related to my fear, and vulnerability.
Let your vulnerability be your strength
Instead of avoiding, I was advised to face the things I was afraid of. To let my vulnerability be my strength. Rather than trying to hide it, I was to use it to my advantage, by honestly sharing how I felt. This took pressure of me. I didn’t have to appear as if I had it all together. I could admit to fear and self-doubt and still move forward. We are all human – fear, self-doubt and vulnerability are nothing to be ashamed of
So instead of being harsh or critical of yourself when you feel any uncomfortable feelings, practise being kind and understanding. Take small steps out of your comfort zone. Set yourself tiny challenges and give yourself praise for any achievements you make. Talk to yourself in a supportive and encouraging tone – in the same way a good friend would do. Your internal critical voice will always be playing away in the background – but you don’t have to pay attention to it.
Do one small thing each day
To begin facing my fears I made a commitment to do one small thing each day that I didn’t want to do. I also began to pause before I agreed to requests to do things. Usually I would have automatically said Yes to everything. Whenever I felt myself wanting to avoid or give in to challenges, I would remind myself of the positive feelings I would feel afterwards.
I discovered, that the practise of facing my fear was never as bad as I thought. By choosing to face our fears we are creating new neural pathways in our brain that interrupt the automatic habitual patterns that have become established. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/prescriptions-life/201808/help-anxiety-facing-your-fears-will-heal-your-brain
This doesn’t mean that you will never experience fear, vulnerability or doubt as these are natural feelings that are all part of being a healthy human. Rather than seeking to avoid them, accept and allow them to show up, but don’t let them hold you back.
You won’t know what is waiting for you until you take that first small step to face your fears.
Trust in yourself – you can do it!
You might also be interested in this post.https://helenmckillen.com/self-awareness/