Fear. It’s a four-letter word with so many different meanings. And it’s a word no one wants to talk about.
Fear wears different disguises. There is the fear that appears when we are in a life-threatening situation. That’s the innate fight-or-flight in all of us that keeps us alive in dire situations. Then there is the fear that appears when we have to speak in front of a big audience, or the fear of the unknown, which keeps us from quitting an unfulfilling job and pursuing our passion. This type of fear — the fear that comes with the questions: what will they think, what if I fail, will I be enough? — is the fear that will stop you in your tracks and keep you seemingly safe. Or so you are lead to believe.
That fear, the one that’s keeping you from pursuing your passion, the one that keeps you in a bad relationship because you’d rather be with the wrong person than be alone, isn’t really keeping you safe or alive. It’s keeping you dull. It’s keeping you from being real. It’s keeping you from your true self.
And that’s exactly why we need it.
Not to keep us from doing what we want, but to show us exactly what we need to do next. When we face our fears, we evolve. Our desires shift and change. And when we brush up against something that stirs up fear, chances are it’s that very thing that we need to do to keep on growing; to make our lives more authentic. To step deeper into our purpose, into who we truly are meant to be.
One of my recent fears that seemed absolutely gigantic and unbearable was going through with my divorce. Deep down I knew it was what I needed to do to free my heart, to truly be myself, but holy geez did the fear crash in like a tidal wave. What will happen to the kids? What will everyone think? Will he be OK? Will I lose my friends? How will I cope with being a single mom? What will happen to me? At times the fear felt paralyzing.
But at the same time I knew that if I didn’t face my fear I would be a fraud. The foreseen pain of facing my fear could not be worse than denying myself of my true identity.
Then I decided, I can focus on my fear or I can focus on my heart, because regardless of what we are fearful of fear will never come from a place of love. And I found that the more I focused on my heart the less room fear had within me.
I know you’ve done the same. You’ve been in a situation where fear could have gotten the best of you, but you didn’t let it. Instead you did that very thing you were fearful of. And regardless of how the situation turned out, by facing your fear you became stronger. You became more authentic.
And that’s exactly what I want to remind you of. That facing your fear is completely doable; in fact, you’ve done it before. Fear isn’t going away. It’s going to be there and jump out at us right when we need it to. It’s our very own indicator letting us know our next challenge is here. Our next opportunity to grow has arrived. And you are ready–just lean into it by focusing on your heart. From a place of love, fear has no strength.
So what are you fearful of? What are the things that you would do if fear didn’t restrict you from doing them? Who would you be if free from the grip of fear?
I can tell you my outcome. Facing the gigantic fear of divorce has given me more confidence than anything else I’ve ever done. It untapped my heart in a way I never knew possible, because it allowed me to be me without limitations. I released the notion of anyone else’s opinion dictating what I needed to do with my life. And while I have most certainly lost and gained friendships along the way, I can tell you those in my life now know exactly who I am, what I stand for and receive unconditional love from me. There are no secrets. Additionally my kids have witnessed a mother who loves them, a father who adores them, and through it we all have grown and are better for it. We are stronger, love deeper and know each other more now than we ever did before… because when the fear was stripped away all that was left was love. The fear I had of being a single mom was turned into more appreciation for my children. True, it was freakin’ hard at times, but it only made me stronger and allowed me to see clearly that when fear is released love comes rushing in. (Not to mention, it allowed my friends and family to reach out and show their love through words and actions.) Those things I was most fearful of are the very things that have given me confidence. Facing my biggest fear made me realize all the strength I needed I already had.
“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence but it comes from within. It is there all the time.” – Anna Freud