Six questions to ask yourself when faced with fear

Dee's photos 2968i was watching an episode of Australia’s Biggest Loser not long ago. one of the contestants was standing on the platform of a bungy jump. terrified, she would say, “i can’t. i don’t want to die.” the support team would walk her through the safety check again, her coach would remind her why she was doing what she was doing, and reassured her that as her coach she was not going to let her get hurt. she gathered her courage and stepped forward again. there were words of encouragement, “go on. you can do this. you are stronger than this. don’t let this beat you. you’ve been held back too long. show yourself you are stronger than you think.” i could almost see her mind explode into a whirlwind of “what ifs” and she would back away and say, “i can’t. i don’t want to die.” eventually, this contestant weighed the fear against the motivation for the challenge and she took the plunge. understanding her reason for doing what she was doing helped her face a fear that was paralyzing her. needless to say, at the end of this exercise, she felt like she could conquer the world…at the very least, the part of the world called her life.

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when i say the word fear, my mind will run through a checklist. there’s an image of each item as a quick reminder, “this is what fear looks like to you”. my body will assist my mind. i might feel a cold chill and shiver, a gasp for breath or a myriad of responses. my mind and body work together to warn my heart (soul) that it’s job is to keep me far away from what i am afraid of. kind of makes me think that my mind and body don’t trust my heart. that they might not be confident in the courage they see there. we’ve all heard the encouragements; “you never know how strong you are until you have to be”, “God will never give you more than you can bear”, you could probably chime in with a few yourself. my mind isn’t always so confident about these truths.

fear is designed to paralyze. to stop me in my tracks and keep me from moving forward.DSCF5274

it can be a powerful force. i used to hate spiders. gross. they are ugly, creepy and the stories i have heard and read about what they can do just sent me into a panic. it didn’t matter what i was doing at the moment when i saw one, i froze. unable to move until i could frantically let someone know that i needed rescued and get that monster (always so many times smaller than i am) out of my space. the importance of what i was doing did not matter to me. everything stopped. i couldn’t concentrate on anything else but “get it away from me.” when i took the picture of this spider, my daughter asked me, “how could you get close enough to that ugly thing to take a picture of it?” i thought, “yeah, I’ve come a long way in my journey to address that fear.” i adjusted my crown, smiled and said, “i just did it because i wanted to capture that web”. the reason why i did what i did was greater than my former fear.

a research was done about worries and the following statistic was found:

  1. 40 % of the things you worry about will never occur
  2. 30 % of the things you worry about are over and past and can’t be changed by all the worry in the world
  3. 12 % of the things you worry about are needless worries about your health
  4. 10 % of the things you worry about are petty, miscellaneous worries
  5. 8 % of the things you worry about are real, legitimate worries

only 8 % of your worries are worth concerning yourself about. doing a simple math equation shows that 92 % of what you worry about (or fear) is never going to happen. think about it…doesn’t that 92% take up a lot of your time and energy, if you let it? i don’t know about you but i have far too much i want to do to spend time paralyzed by fear of something that is probably not going to happen. yet, fear will present itself to me and the women i know.

what do you fear? yes, i am challenging you to “look inside your heart”. although, as you have been reading, i’m guessing your mind has already run your checklist for you by now. as women, we face lots of diverse fears that feel unique. what about the fear of acceptance? am i too fat? am i fashionable enough? am i knowledgeable enough to share my heart with out appearing stupid? can i prove my success and compete? will i fit in? what about love? am i loveable? will someone in the world find me desirable? what about value? do my talents have value? will what i have to give be enough? am i important? do i have a purpose? do i have enough _____ to validate that being me is worth while?

here are a few things i have applied to my own fears (especially emotional fears):

  • what am i afraid of? i believe i can trace most fear back to 3 basic needs: acceptance, love and value.
  • what do i believe about what i am afraid of? as i journey through life, i have formed many belief systems. most of my fears are based on believing something that is not true. for example, a spider is a monster that i am helpless against or because of the tragedies i have faced in my life, anything good in my life would be taken from me.
  • what is the truth that i can exchange for the untrue belief? spiders. are they dangerous? some are. are they monsters or just really creepy? really creepy! am i capable of saving myself in most situations? absolutely!!! how do I know? because i have done it before when there was NO ONE around to be my hero. tragedy. did it cause my heart pain. excruciating pain! will i ever face another tragedy in my life. i hope not but odds are there might still be a few ahead of me. has everything good in my life been taken from me? no. actually, it hasn’t been. some things in my life have been removed but not all. in fact, there is enough good all around me that when i stop and appreciate it…i feel great satisfaction, joy and fulfilment….including the precious memories of what i have lost.
  • what can i do to remind myself that i can and will be able to survive this? first of all, i have to come to grips with the fact that there will one day be something come across my path that i will not survive. scary but true. i have been gifted with a number of days on this earth. i am not immortal and one day my life will end. sad but true. i do not know how that day will play out (actually, it’s a good thing that i don’t). until then, i will come face to face with many challenges and triumphs. so, i have little things i do that will remind me of all the things that i have survived quite regally, in my opinion. a picture. a memory. a memorial. something that my heart can use to remind the rest of me that i am fine. i am alive and well.
  • what action can i take? if i want to change something, i must take action. i can not sit by and hope that things will change. nothing happens to bring change unless i put in the required effort.
  • what do i need to survive? my husband was watching the discover channel the other day. during the program, the narrator discussed a spore that lives on horse excrement. to survive, it must be eaten by the horse so that it’s life cycle can repeat. however, the horse won’t eat grass near excrement. that spore must catapult  itself several yards away into fresh grass so that the horse will eat it. how does it know this? how can something so small have enough power and speed to get itself to where it needs to be? the reality is that it’s all built in to it’s make up. this made me stop and think about what an amazing creature i am. that what i need to get through what ever comes my way is there. if it’s not, i have the ability to add to my resources. it just takes some action on my part.
a few of my favourite motivations...part of my circle of influence.

a few of my favourite motivations…part of my circle of influence.

one of the most powerful ways i have found to start the action is to understand why i do what i do or want to do. if i can answer that question…i can make a plan, i can gather my resources and i can move, act, live and thrive. i can overcome the fears that aim to paralyze me into inactivity…i can look fear square in the face (even if i’m shaking in my boots) and move it out of my path so that i can be all my heart longs for me to be. one of those reasons i do what i do is this….i have a circle of influence that needs what i have to share. they are family, friends, co-workers and maybe…just maybe even readers.

until next time,

D

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