I recently got an email from a reader asking me to send her a post I'd written three years ago about dissolving fear, stating "I think it would be very helpful to me right now." I happily sent it to her and decided updating and revisiting the subject might be helpful to all of us.
“The key to change…is to let go of fear.” ~ Rosanne Cash
The very word can stop us in our tracks sometimes. FEAR. It can keep us from making a decision, or from taking advantage of an opportunity, or from stepping into any situation that puts us out of our comfort zone. The very notion of fear can cause inertia.
Let's take a moment to re-define or reframe this word, to think about it in a new way. Some define fear as False Evidence Appearing Real, in other words fear isn’t real. And, there is truth to that sentiment. But, when you’re paralyzed by a fear it feels pretty darn real.
Here are two new ways to redefine, reframe and dissolve the notion of fear:
1. Fear as expectation – Think of a fear as a set of expectations. In a fearful moment, ask yourself: What are my expectations if I do this? Then, make a list of all of those expectations.
- Do you expect that you’re not good enough?
- Do expect that you won’t be liked?
- Do you expect that you’re going to lose your job if you step out like that? Or you won't get the job is you speak your mind?
- Do you expect that people won’t think you’re smart if you say that?
Write down what you expect to happen if you proceed with whatever you're holding back from. When you see it in black and white, sometimes the simple acknowledgment helps to bring a light to the non-reality of your expectations.
So what do you do? The great news is you now have a chance to re-write your expectations surrounding the event or decision, making them positive rather than negative. Literally create a set of expectations that allow you to move forward:
- I expect that they will recognize me as the expert that I am on this subject, that's why I'm there.
- I expect that if it’s meant to be I will make a connection at this meeting.
- I expect that I will be hired for this job if I’m right for this job, and I decide I’m right for this job.
- I expect that they want me to nail this interview/presentation/audition. It will make their job easier.
Then, what happens is fear is replaced by a stronger sense of courage and ownership of self.
2. Fear as resistance - What is resistance exactly? The definition of the word is: conflict, struggle and opposition. It shows up just at the time when you’re about to learn something, or you’re about to make a change or advancement to your current situation. Personal resistances are created in the mind. They’re not real. They’re not in the present. Resistance takes place in the subconscious mind and it invades or stops the new thought or idea in the forefront of your mind.
How does it show up for you? Resistance can show up in little behaviors or obstacles that our minds create in order to avoid and mask fears. Resistance can be a pesky little devil! And, we can get really creative in our resistances. Maybe you just haven’t had time to get to it; or perhaps you get tired or create a headache which makes you put it off again. Mind chatter is another form of resistance. Maybe you tell yourself that things really aren’t that bad where you are. Or this is a silly exercise, what does it really have to do with getting a job or setting a goal?
To get through a fear or resistance, let’s take a look at the notion of polar opposites and how what you want many times sits directly on the other side of what’s stopping you. The Chinese say that on the opposite side of chaos is order. In other words, what's in the way is the way.
The antonym, or opposite, of resistance is SURRENDER. This doesn't mean to give up or give in or throw in the towel. By surrender I mean to trust what you can’t see in front of you yet. Trust that the answers will come to you. Trust in the quieting of the mind. And, allow some space for compassion. Tell your fear that it’s okay. You acknowledge it, but you’re moving forward anyway. Surrender to just doing your best, your best in that moment.
So, give yourself permission to recognize and reframe, then surrender and change your expectations. If you do this on a consistent basis you’ll see the fears begin to dissolve. We get fixed into a certain way of thinking.
Yes, it’s uncomfortable. But, that's the good stuff. That's being alive and expanding. So, I invite you to live in the uncomfortable, to become comfortable being uncomfortable.