There was a time I felt I was an expert in fear. Not because I had studied the topic extensively, but because Fear was such a constant companion that I got to know him all too well. Sometimes he would drop by for a brief visit and other times he would stay for years. Then one day I read an acronym I would never forget. F.E.A.R.= False Evidence Appearing Real. That was a game-changer for me. I took a long hard look at Fear and decided that the majority of the time he showed up he was nothing more than a liar masquerading as my "protector". I asked myself... protection from what? Protection from potential future, emotional pain? (See Arrow Tip #33 for that one). I don't think so. I'm in charge of my mind and my emotions. I'm in control of MY choices. There's no real threat here that I need protection from.
While he still occasionally knocks on my door, rather than blindly letting him in, I look through the peephole. Is he here today to lie and steal or is he here for real protection? Most of the time it's the former. If so, then I tell him I'm onto him and to get lost. He and I have been through this enough times that he typically knows I'm serious and he may as well hit the road. But there are some instances he manages to get one tiny toe in the door. When he does he has no problem barging in like some unwanted visitor. There are times when I just can't keep him out. Fine. I simply open that door wide and let him come flooding in. Why? Because I know TODAY this guy is not going to leave so easily. So, rather than fighting a losing battle, I CHOOSE to welcome him in on MY terms. "Come on in! But don't think I'm going to pay you much attention while you're here. You want to sit in my house for a while go right ahead.....but it's business as usual here. You will NOT be stopping me, stealing from me, or lying to me while you hang around. I'm onto you!" Then I do what I want to do IN SPITE of fear's presence. You can do the same.
The tricky part is that Fear is not always lying and you have to be able to discern the difference. Fear is part of our biology to help us survive so we can thrive. But this usually pertains to physical danger; like fear of standing too close to a ledge, messing around with dangerous materials, or riding a bike on a busy highway. There may be fear associated with all of these things and it's there to authentically make sure we stay safe. This point can be useful to help determine when it's a healthy fear versus when fear is here to simply lie, steal and paralyze.
When Fear shows up, start by asking yourself some questions:
"What am I ACTUALLY afraid of here?" (Dig deep, it might not even be what you thought.)
"Is this fear here to protect me from actual danger or is this just a perceived danger based on other fears I have?"
"Is this fear stopping me from doing, being, or having something that would actually be beneficial?"
These questions should help you know how to proceed. I've also found that when Fear shows up to truly protect me, it's usually an extremely short visit. He pops in..... lets me know what's up....and then takes off. But when he comes with excess baggage like he plans to stay for a while, that's usually a good indication that he's wearing his "wolf in sheep's clothing" costume. Nobody likes visitors that overstay their welcome....especially ones in disguise, who insist on ranting and raving at all hours.
What lies is Fear telling you today? That you're not good enough? Lovable enough? Smart or experienced enough? That things will never change or you're never going to feel better? That you won't be able to do something you wish you could do? First, he lies and then he steals. What is he stealing from you right now? Your happiness? Your peace? Your livelihood? Your opportunities?
Recognize that unless you're in physical danger, Fear is usually lying to you. If so, then tell him you've got no time or energy to waste on liars and thieves and to bounce. Don't believe him. Don't let him trick you into thinking he's here for your "protection" if he's not. And when he continues to tap your shoulder and whisper in your ear incessantly, treat him like you would any other pest you can't get rid of at the moment......carry on and do what you want in spite of it.
Recognize that Fear is a liar and a thief in most cases.
When he shows up, ask yourself the 3 questions above to determine how to handle his "visit".
Tell him to hit the road when necessary. This gets easier with practice and repetition.
If you can't keep him from barging in then tell him to take a seat and proceed as you would if he weren't there. Just because fear is present doesn't mean you need to let it paralyze you. Fear is not what's stopping you. It's the POWER you're giving fear that stops you. And on that note...........
*Remember: YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE.