These days, we’re probably all feeling a little afraid. We’re afraid of the known and even more so of the unknown. But even if it’s not the coronavirus or social injustice that has us shaken, fear and doubt about who we are and who we want to be can hold us back from leading a big, beautiful life.
Notice I said “leading.” Leading means you’re not only an active participant in your own life, it means you’re in charge and you have a vision. You’re bold and you’re holding that plan close to your heart while charging forward with purpose and resolution.
Are you dreaming of a career change? Do you want more for yourself? Are you trying to let go of something that no longer serves you? If you answered yes and haven’t moved forward with a vision, it’s likely that fear is leading your life, not you.
And when you let fear and doubt take charge, you’re held back from who you’re meant to be—who your soul is yearning to be.
What is fear really? It’s what our brain whips up to keep us safe. Back in the day, fear was pretty important—it kept us physically safe from real dangers like wild animals hunting us for prey.
But these days, fear sounds more like, “Oh, don’t try that, you’ll look like a fool.” Or, “Don’t say that, no one will like it.” Fear has become a weapon of limitation.
When we let fear and doubt take charge of our lives, we end up making safe decisions, or, worse yet, no decision at all because we’re scared of looking foolish.
From my own experience, I can tell you that if you let it, fear will keep you from love.
It will cheat you of greatness.
It will close you off from the world.
So what can we do? How can we let go of fear and doubt?
Acknowledge its presence.
This is where a lot of us get stuck. We don’t acknowledge our fear. We stuff it away or pretend it’s not there, hoping that if we pretend long enough, it will simply go away. But it won’t. It will get bigger and bigger, simultaneously making your presence in the world smaller and smaller.
Admitting that you’re scared of changing jobs, ending your marriage, or moving across the country is the first step in letting go of fear. The first step in leading your own life.
Understand the fear and face it.
How you face fear is dependent on the nature of that specific fear. Is the fear telling you you’re foolish? Is it telling you not to write the cute guy from the coffee shop a flirty text or not to apply to grad school because you’re “too old”?
Then, do this…
Close your eyes and visualize what the fear could look like. Give it a funny face and a mismatched outfit. Make it look like a protective grandpa. Once you have a good image conjured up in your mind, then smile and say “hi” to it. Tip your hat to it. Give it a name and say this: “Thanks for showing up, Norman, I understand what you’re saying. I know that you’re just trying to protect me, but I got this. I truly do.”
See what happens there? You face the fear. You make it feel heard and understood. But, you make it light. You make it funny. And when you do this, fear can’t lead you because you’ve taken charge.
But if your fear is deeper, cutting through you like a dull knife and stagnating your energy, then there’s a deeper wound there. As someone who spent years living in fear that was projected from a violent past, I’m here to tell you that the only way out is through. You have to walk right through your fear. How do we do that?
First, you find a safe space with someone you trust, a therapist, a spiritual coach, a friend, or your spouse. You walk right up to it and through it by speaking your fear. As you let the fear come to the surface, your heart may pound, and your hands may get clammy. That’s okay. That means the icky stuff is coming to the surface. Let it.
Tell your trusted safe person what the old fear is and what it’s doing to you now. Be honest, like really honest. Maybe it’s abandonment you suffered as a child and now you’re afraid of emotional intimacy. Maybe it’s a past abuse. There’s nothing too deep and too dark to share because the truth is that once you speak it out into the light, it’s not dark anymore. There’s a power in speaking what you fear most.
Once your fear is out in the open, then look at it, feel it, and talk to it. Tell it you don’t need it anymore. Tell it it can’t hold onto you anymore. Depending on the depth and breadth of your fear, it may take many conversations or many months of therapy, and that’s okay. Be patient and kind to yourself.
And, be sure to remind yourself that you can lead a big, beautiful life and that you absolutely can be who you are meant to be, which is nothing less than a magnificent creature of the Universe.
Onward my friends!
With resilience, grace, and love,
P.S. If you’d like to know more about letting go of fear, watch this video:
His eyes were as dark as night. That should’ve been my sign to run the other direction–the windows to his soul shut tight, forbidding the light to shine in or out–but instead, I ran straight toward this long-time bachelor with my arms (and legs) wide open and my eyes wide shut. This wasn’t my first…
You may not know this about me, but I used to be a lawyer. Well, I still am a lawyer, but I don’t practice anymore. But there was a time when all I wanted to do was defend criminals. Not because I had a warm and fuzzy for lawlessness. Actually, it was the opposite: I…