How To Overcome Fear And Actually Learn to Celebrate It
Ok, I get it, it’s a weird AF title. Fear never feels particularly good, why on earth would I want to celebrate it? Because I believe that celebrating your fear can actually help you move past it and onto bigger things. As a coach I deal with other people’s fears all the time. My job is in essence, getting people to move past their fears. I also work with my own fear every day, whether it’s my growing business or my commitment to living vibrantly, I’m constantly courting a lot of stuff that scares me. Here’s the thing though, I’ve seen year after year that accepting and working with fear is much more successful than bitch staring it into submission. Fear is worth celebrating, because:
- it’s such a smart system and a key part of being human.
- it normally means big things are happening
- It’s such an amazing learning tool.
All of that is so worth celebrating, yes?
K, so let’s break down fear a little + why the system deserves to be celebrated. Note that I’m going crazy high level here, so don’t come for me as I simplify a complex system into 60–seconds. Our brain evolved to protect our body and it’s continued to adapt in pretty reactionary wys over time to continue playing that role. Our brains are constantly scanning for danger, as the quicker and more of you spotted danger the more likely you were to make yourself safe. We’re taking in 11 million bits of data in any second of which we’re processing maybe 50 of those things with the more rational and sophisticated parts of our brain. A huge chunk of the rest is going to more primal parts of our brain that only cares about keeping us safe (they do not care about our to do lists, that you really don’t have time today, or that you’re worried about looking stupid).That’s a lot of info that we’re not actively working through, so much of much of that data is our brain scanning for danger.
Whenever we sense danger, (which is often thanks to the 11 million bits of data), our most base instinct rushes us into fight, flight, freeze. We’re not in danger of being pounced on by a sabre toothed tiger anymore, but the reaction is still the same. It’s not very sophisticated, it didn’t need to be, it just needed to keep you safe. We do now have a fancier part of the alarm system, our prefrontal cortex, where we rationalise, explore nuance, and problem solve. It’s pretty classy and gives us the power to not descend into fear puddles all the time, BUT, here’s the kicker, it can trigger the more base reaction through our thoughts. If we get reminded of a bad experience or we make the connection that there’s something dangerous, this fancy part of our brain gives all the power back to the more reactionary parts and we’re back in high fear mode. So, our brain is primed to keep us safe through looking out for danger. It’s so good at it that even if there’s no ‘danger’, our brain can trick us into believing that we’re in full out fight/flight/freeze mode.
There’s so much more to this, but at heart Fear has kept us alive for a really long time and so it’s not really fair to turn our back on it now. Fear is kinda like an overprotective parent who just really wants you to be safe, sometimes they have a point, sometimes they don’t, but when did it ever twork to scream at them, ignore them, or try to throw them out a window? No, the only thing that ever really worked was a bit of dialogue. So, let’s not be too harsh on fear, it really is only trying to keep us safe. The fear system is also incredibly impressive and deserves to be understood and respected. Fear is baked into our hardware and we’re not going to magic it away. Instead of wasting our energy fighting a fight that we’re not going to win, instead let’s invest that energy into working with the system and making it a little smarter.
With me so far? Fear reflects an amazing system that is just trying to look after us. Fear is a good indication that you’re growing and doing things that are going to escalate you up to the next level. Why? Because fear kicks in when our ‘safety’ is threatened. But that safety means sticking with the status quo and how often does that get you to where you want to go.
I’m going to guess where your brain is going. Just because I understand fear a little more, what do I do with this now. You’re in luck, there’s some tips on how to get curious about fear coming your way.
Ahead of doing any of the offerings below make sure you’re in a good frame of mind. I’m serious. I don’t touch this kind of work with clients until they’re super grounded and prepped. Do yourself a favour and don’t go all balls to the walls when you’re already anxious. Take a few moments and calm your system down – deep grounding breaths, reminding yourself that you’re safe, grounding yourself in the present all work really well. IF you need help on this, DM me and I’ll send you some thoughts and exercises stat.
Also – work up to the big stuff. Celebrating fear is a muscle that can take some time to develop. You wouldn’t jump straight into lifting 200 pounds, so don’t do that here. it by trying to lift 100 pounds straight out the gate. Build up to the bigger stuff. If you want to explore calm your system down first, the easiest way is to simply do some grounding breath or get into some form of movement meditation.
- Play out what’s the worst that can happen. Our brain loves to tell us the most dramatic stories, but often the worst that can happen is pretty underwhelming and something that we can plan for.
- Listen out to what you’re actually fearful for. Our brains love to legitimise the way we’re feeling, so can play little tricks. There’s so often a base fear that can feel ‘silly’, ‘irrrational’, or ‘stupid, that we don’t really want to face. That’s where the real work is though, so get curious about what’s happening underneath the surface.
- Sit with your fear and get to know it. Get curious about where it feels in your body, what words come up, where your brain goes. This awareness is the starting point for your ability to decide what you want to do with it.
If any of this becomes too much, stop and take some grounding breath. Fear tends to push us into the pain of the past or into the catastrophe of the future, so focus on being in the here and now and knowing that you’re safe.
Ok – I know that was a lot, this is only the beginning of your relationship. Get playful and curious and see what can open up. Email me if you need more clarity or support around anything I’ve mentioned. I’d also love to hear what will come up.