Throughout my life, I have been consumed by, run away from, danced with, and have also become wildly curious with my fear. It has stopped me in my tracks, sent me spiraling down a path of doubt and confusion, and kept me playing small. It has also shown me the way, guided me towards my dreams and desires, and been the beacon to truly knowing myself.
Talk about complete opposite ends of the spectrum, right?
First things first: Fear is a completely and totally normal human reaction. It's not something to be hated, to try and 'rid' yourself of, and your fear doesn't need to be told to just fuck right off.
It's how we view fear that keeps tripping us up. There is no circumstance that I would to tell you that you should learn to love the feeling of fear, because it's downright uncomfortable. It stirs up a lot of inner turmoil, and it will call upon you to expand your entire being. Fear is the epitome of growing pain.
No wonder we want to run away from it, ignore it, and find every way possible so that we don't actually have to face our fear - which keeps us from taking risks, chasing our dreams, and showing up fully as our true selves.
(I mean, can you not think of an instance that you've presented a water-downed version of yourself? Where maybe you didn't speak up, even though you had something to say? Avoided a social gathering because you didn't want to feel awkward? Or maybe you didn't do that thing you wanted to because who do you think you are to even try, right? ... Textbook fear, right there. I've totally been there.)
If there's one thing that has completely revolutionized the way I approach each day and how I live my life, this one has had the most impact: being gentle with myself.
SPEAK WITH LOVE
Get to know your inner-critic, and separate yourself from it. Eradicating negative thoughts forever isn't realistic, but arming yourself with the right tools to handle them is possible.
Your inner critic is fear. It's role is to play small and keep you right smack in the middle of your comfort zone. It's not you. That's right: you are not your fear. The criticism and backtalk isn't true, so don't believe it.
Give your inner critic a name that resonates. The key is to try to pick something loving, rather than something negative, like "stupid", "monster", or "evil bitch", which really just defeats the purpose :) Give it a persona, is it male/ female? What's her personality like? What is she really afraid of? How does she react when something scary pops up? I've named my fear "Little One". Although she's trying to protect me (from failing, embarrassment, etc.), she likes to keep me small.
Once you separate yourself from your Fear, it'll become easier to stop identifying with and buying into those limiting stories. The next time you start to run that play-by-play of your sure-to-be next biggest failure, catch yourself, and simply say, "Oh, that's just Fear talking. It's okay, I got this."
Key point: don't get down on yourself for thinking negativity, simply charge ahead with your two greatest tools: compassion and acceptance.
FLIRT WITH THE UNKNOWN
How are you digesting the presence of limitation and fear in your life?
One of my all-time favourite ways to move through terrifying times is to become intensely curious. What that looks like for me is unhooking myself from the story that I'm telling myself (that I'm not good enough, that I'm doomed to fail...) and immerse myself in the possibility of it all with an open heart and no judgement.
"Am I really not good enough? How do I know I won't succeed? How do I know I can't do that? Is it really true? Where is the proof? Would I speak to a friend (or anyone) this way?"
Look past the surface level thinking and plunge into the depths of what's really going on.
How would life be different if you chose to let go of what's keeping you stuck in your current state? What would shift? What would happen? How would you feel?
Choose to view fear differently and watch your perspective shift before your eyes. When you realize you have a choice in how you react, you can choose to react from a place that supports your greatest good.