I’ve been thinking about fear. A client wrote to me about fear on the day when I was already scheduled to give a talk about our entrepreneurial fears. And a member of my online community wrote about facing fears and challenges. Fear was everywhere I looked, suddenly.
Dale Carnegie said “Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear” and he was right. His thought is echoed by Susan Jeffers in my first ever personal development book (and still a favourite) Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. That brave, push-through-the-fear approach definitely works.
But I am coming round to another way of dealing with fears, one which is gentler and more to my somewhat newly spiritual taste.
Fear is an emotion, something we feel. But it doesn’t just arrive in the body a propos of nothing at all. It arrives because we are thinking thoughts of worry, anxiety and fear. It is quite possibly a fearful script we have been running in our heads all our lives, one way or another. Whatever we are thinking is creating the feelings we feel. We do this to ourselves. And we have the power to do something about it…quite simply to stop it.
Anxiety comes from living in the future, what might happen when something does or doesn’t happen. What will happen if I lose my job? What will happen when I get old and I don’t have a pension? What will happen if someone in the family gets ill and/or dies? What will happen if my lover leaves me or I leave him? These are things which some people we know may even be coping with today.
But for majority of us they are not real and they may never become so. They are just our thoughts and they may always remain just thoughts, but they will have blighted our lives just as if they were real. And even if these things do eventually become real, we shall manage. We will muddle through as we always have and at some level we know we have the capacity to more than survive.
We are torturing ourselves thinking like this and making our own lives a living hell, and this is a habit we have acquired. Just like any habit, we can change this behaviour. If you can find a way to give up thinking thoughts like these, fear will recede just as it does if your choice is to feel the fear and act anyway. You can, honestly, just stop it. Stop the thinking which is causing this emotion of fear.
Learn to notice your feelings and then track back and pay attention to the thoughts you were thinking a few moments ago which created those emotions now and STOP DOING IT. It sounds simple and it is simple, but my experience is that we choose to make it unnecessarily complex. We say “That’s easy for you to say but I struggle with this because [insert your own reason here]”.
Practice first with emotions other than fear and prove this works. Think a thought and measure what emotion, what feeling comes up when you do it? Then simply release the thought and notice the feeling goes away too. It’s that simple. We are living in the feeling of our thinking. And if we don’t like our feelings, then we simply have to change our thoughts.
I liken our thoughts to that tickertape which runs along the bottom of the screen in a news bulletin. Notice those thoughts are all fear-provoking: wars, famine, disasters, floods, scary people, unstable economies, murder, riot, superstorms, drought, greed, avarice. You get the picture. No wonder the news is so scary! Now you know why I stopped watching it long since. I don’t want to be made to feel fearful by anything or anyone. I choose what I want to think and feel.
Now what if you train your own mental tickertape only to broadcast the good news? Good health, happy families, confidence, bliss, peace, contentment, gratitude, sunny holidays, Christmas, chocolate, bubble bath, clean sheets, pretty frocks, Strictly Come Dancing, central heating, frosty sunshine, flowers, fluffy loyal pets, love, more than enough money and every other resource we think we must have in abundance. How do you feel if you run those thoughts? Much better, yes? Now you are getting the hang of this.
Stop what you are doing and take some deep breaths. Notice now, notice this very moment. Notice that you are fine now, especially if you have released your anxious fearful thoughts. Know that this peace is available to you in any moment and that all there is is now. We are always fine now, in this moment, even if we are going through some difficult stuff today, we are still OK, perhaps better than OK; healthy, alive, loved, warm, fed and safe.
It’s our thoughts which are terrifying us and causing us to feel fearful and live in fear. Even when nasty things are happening, we are still OK. Generally we do not die (or whatever it is we fear). We prevail and everything turns out all right in the end, all for the best, one way or another.
So, stop living in fear, stop choosing fear. It is your choice.