Fear is our hidden obstacle in life, until we address it.
The obstacle that keeps us from the deepest connections, and thus our deepest possible healing, is some flavor of fear. In order to overcome fear, we must cultivate courage. Specifically, the courage to be willing to feel the fear, and get curious about it.
Overcoming fear doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of it. In fact you probably never will.
You may skydive 1,000 times and still hesitate before leaping into the open air. You may boulder for 10 years and still get nervous when you scale high rocks. You may become a professional public speaker and still feel your heart race and your palms sweat before every talk. In each case, you practice the skill and feeling the fear in order to keep improving. And the inevitable sense of exhilaration and aliveness in the accomplishment is the reward for working with your fear.
Overcoming fear means cultivating the courage to move through the sensations, allowing the intensity of the initial feelings to dissipate. It generally dissipates after about 90 seconds. The process is about teach your body to feel safer and more agile within a specific context. It also means getting curious about your individual triggers, and gathering tools to reach for when the fear creeps in and your knees start to buckle.
Fear isn’t bad. You’re here because your ancestors had a primal hardwiring for fear that kept them alive. Don’t stick your hand in that dark tree hole. Maybe don’t pet that colorful snake. Nighttime is not the best time for wandering alone in the jungle. Without fear, we wouldn’t instinctively avoid potential threats to our life.
To have fear is to be human. No one escapes it, no matter how bold and brave they may appear on the outside.
It has always been a necessary survival mechanism. The goal in overcoming fear is not to make it go away. The goal is to cultivate curiosity around it, seek the safe container and guidance to explore it, and build the courage to move through it by allowing ourselves to feel it.
Fear can often be greatest Achilles heel and our best entry point to growth.
When left unexamined, fear is left to run the show like a tyrant, blocking us from our full potential and expression. It can wreak havoc on our physical body and our relationships. It can be the driver in all of our decisions, and we may have no idea. It can keep us alive, but simultaneously keep us from really living.
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown