Friday the 13th
It's the first Friday the 13th of 2023 so let's talk about fear, shall we? Superstition lends Friday the 13th as a day full of fear, the day to avoid ladders, Black cats, umbrellas, etc. But let's be honest, many of us face fears on a daily basis far deeper than stepping on a crack in the sidewalk. Fear is part of the human experience, but being consumed by it is often a choice. A choice we have the power to reject with the proper tools and understanding.
F.E.A.R. is often referred to as the acronym False Evidence Appearing Real. It describes how our minds can weave together false tales of how circumstances will turn out. There are 3 types of fear; rational fear, primal fear, and irrational fear. Rational fear involves imminent threat, primal fear involves survival instinct, and irrational fear can vary from person to person but oftentimes has no logical reasoning. No matter the cause, fear can be paralyzing...debilitating; holding us back from becoming the versions of ourselves we dream of being.
So how do we overcome this?
When you feel fear induced panic coming on, pause and breathe. Place your hand on your stomach and take a few breaths in and out. Slowly. Focus on the feeling of your breath moving through your body. On every exhale release the tension in your body. Make the choice to pause the world around you and give yourself the opportunity to breathe yourself through your fear.
2) Take a Self Inventory.
Is your fear heightened because your basic needs haven't been met? Are you operating from a place of rest? Have you nourished your body? Have you hydrated yourself? Feelings of fear are often exacerbated when your body is in distress. Physical wellness contributes to spiritual wellness and mental wellness and vice versa. If you're in body is in survival mode you're more likely to respond with fear and defense to your daily circumstances. Our Root Chakra is the home of our survival instinct in the body and it's also where we regulate our fear response. Balancing your Root Chakra will allow you to ground your energy face your fears with strength and courage.
3) Challenge Perfection.
Repeat after me, "Perfection does not exist." The key to holding yourself back is waiting for the perfect time to move forward...Okay, that was deep. I'm going to say that again, the key to holding yourself back is waiting for the perfect time to move forward. There will never be the perfect time to take action. Allow yourself to take action anyway. Challenge yourself to challenge the idea of perfection. The Four Agreements, is one of the best books I've ever read. The 4th agreement, 'Always Do Your Best', challenges us to accept that our best may vary from day to day but as long as we strive for that, we cannot fail. Allow this understanding to propel you forward, one day at a time.
4) Focus On the Now.
When you feel your fear creeping in, reframe your focus to the present moment. Oftentimes we allow the fear of what is going to happen next or in the future to stagnate our actions. Focusing on the present moment will allow you to surrender to the moment and release the "need" to be in the know of the next moment. Cross the bridge when/if it comes. You've made it through every difficult situation you've ever faced. Know that any future challenges will be met by an even more powerful and confident you.
5) Learn More About Your Fear.
Avoid avoidance. Name your fear. Where did this fear originate within you? Is it actually your fear or were you taught to be afraid? Interrogate your fears. Delve deep beneath the surface until you have an understanding of how and why you are afraid. Once you break your fear into bite sized pieces through introspection and revelation it becomes easier to digest and overcome.
6) Take a Minute…or a Few.
Give yourself a deadline to act on what makes you afraid. Commit to yourself that you will allow yourself to get there and you won't stand in your own way. The deadline is the jumping point for which you take action.
7) Use Visualization.
Visualize your success. See yourself on the opposite side of your fear. Visualizing yourself successfully facing your fear will pave the way for you mentally which will make it easier to complete physically.
8) Find a Recipe.
Chances are you aren't the first person to do what it is that you are afraid of. We put too much pressure on ourselves when we think we have to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch. Learn from others that came before you and successfully navigated the situations that terrify you.
9) Prepare and Practice.
Practice makes what? Don't say perfect. See point 3 if you said perfect. Practice makes PROGRESS. The more you prepare, the easier it will be for you. Whatever your fear is, a little preparation for facing it definitely won't hurt. Put yourself in the scenario of facing your fears as often as you can. It's easier said than done, but as time goes on, with practice, it'll be easier and done.
10) Incentivize Yourself.
There is no shame is treating yourself. Whatever it takes to get you past your comfort zone. Gift yourself something nice for completing something challenging. Decide what your reward will be before facing your fear so that you have an exciting incentive to look forward to.
11) Talk It Through.
Speak with someone about your fear. The more you talk about it, the more you're able to process it. Find a loved one or a therapist with a listening and non-judgmental ear that will hear you out and hold space for you to process. Talking it through out loud brings your fears out of your head and into reality which can be helpful for perspective and moving forward.
12) What's the Worst Case Scenario?
Put your fear into perspective. Ask yourself what is the worst case scenario of your fear coming to pass? In the grand scheme of life, is your fear as great as it feels in the moment? Disarm your fears by fully seeing the entire scope of them so that they can't be used as a weapon against you.
13) Treat Yourself Like a Friend.
What would you say to your friend that came to you for advice on overcoming their worst fear? Treat yourself as you would that friend. Have compassion for yourself, be patient and understanding that everything won't change overnight. Hold your friend accountable but also hold space for them to fail and try again. Be the friend you need.