Everyone has fear. Even people who seem to have it all together are scared at least some of the time.
I always laugh if someone comments that I seem to stay calm in every situation. I guess they have no idea of the mental gymnastics going on inside that take me from fear to calm so regularly.
We all have fears. I want you to know that you’re not crazy, you’re not flawed, and you’re not alone.
I’m going to go way out of my comfort zone here to share a list of some of the things that scare me on a near daily basis.
To varying degrees, I am afraid of:
anything that moves really fast
being a bad parent
various sensations in my body
not being good enough
falling into the canal next to my house
As I type each of these things, the same answer comes to me for every one of them.
“If that happens we will deal with it and everything will be ok.”
Yes, “we” will deal with it. I guess the “we” is made up of the part of me that is scared and the rest of me that is not.
Scary things have happened in the past, and I dealt with them.
When scary things come up again in the future, I’ll deal with those too. I may choose to deal differently with things if they happen again in the future, and that’s also ok.
I know it sounds cliche. I know it sounds too simple.
The point is, you will deal with it, and everything is going to be ok.
Knowing this is what makes one person productive in the face of fear and one person become paralyzed by it.
At the end of any scary thing that’s happened in your past, you were ultimately ok.
It probably didn’t feel good, and you might not have liked it, but everything is ok.
Maybe you have never thought of it this way before, but fear isn’t real. Fear is an invention of the human mind.
A newborn infant has only two fears. The fear of being dropped from a high place, and the fear of loud noises. These are innate startle reflexes.
That means, aside from these two fears, every other fear we have has been created by our human thought throughout our lifetime.
This doesn’t mean that fear doesn’t feel real. It feels damn real!
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius
Absolutely, some fears keep us safe. Like the fear when a tiger is chasing you, or the fear of walking into a fire pit.
The vast majority of our fears though aren’t really needed for our safety.
It’s the worst case scenario that we concoct in our mind that’s generating the fear.
Think about it. Is being stuck in an elevator scary, or is it the what if scene that plays in our head of all that can go wrong?
We live in a constant barrage of underlying fears. All the “what ifs” that we obsess over.
what if I lose my job?
what if someone I love dies?
what if I look like a fool?
what if this deal falls through?
Try something new. The answer to “what if” is, “I will deal with it and everything will be ok.”
Big alert here** Getting your way or your outcome does not define if things are ok or not.
If it helps, you can phrase it like this: “I know that in ten years, everything about this situation will be ok. So that means that right now everything is ok even though I don’t like it.”
“I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
If your “what if” thoughts outnumber your “everything will be ok” thoughts, just think of it as nothing more than a muscle imbalance.
You’ve been exercising the “what if” muscles, and the “everything will be ok” muscle got weak.
Imbalances can turn around. Exercise that “everything will be ok” muscle. Say it, think it, know it, believe it over and over again.
The keys to whether you let fear rule your life or not are in your hands.
Be willing to accept that things are ok even if they don’t go the way you want or expect.
Absolutely, some fears keep us safe. Like the fear when a tiger is chasing you, or the fear of walking into a fire pit
Understand that fear can be temporarily uncomfortable, but it’s temporary, you’ll deal with it, and everything is going to be ok.
Fear is a complex and tangled web, and I don’t mean to over simplify it. Fear can feel awful, so I want to ease some of that fearful suffering. Hopefully you gained a few good insights here to help you move forward in the face of fear.
As always, I wish you the best.