Let's talk FEAR and how you can overcome it
I'm writing this post from my bed, and I may or may not be wearing vampire teeth... and listening to a fun Halloween playlist I found on YouTube. Halloween has always been one of my favourite times of the year.
I love getting into the spirit of things! The scarier, the better. Witch (hehe), is not typical of me.
Outside of Halloween, I hate being scared. I like my world safe, and I do whatever I can to make sure it stays that way. I hate anything to do with 'stepping outside my comfort zone' and doing things that make me feel vulnerable or new. There is a reason my family always gets me turtles as souvenirs when they travel. I like being tucked safety inside my shell.
But what I'm learning is this: everything I want to accomplish in life is on the other side of fear, and staying safe means staying small.
And I don't want to stay small.
Which is exactly what came up during a branding call I had last night with Melissa from The Introvert Photographer. Our chat brought me to tears (happy, grateful ones) because while the conversation was meant to be about branding, Melissa and I realized I'm not even close to thinking about branding because I still have a massive fear of being seen. Melissa opened a space to get real about my fears and how they are holding me back from a) asking for what I want and b) having the courage to go get it.
Fear is SO much more than being outwardly afraid of horror stories and creepy clowns (and everything else associated with this holiday), and because it shows up in our lives 365 days of the year and keeps us from the life we deserve if we don't have tools for facing it, I thought it was an important topic to cover.
So, what is fear?
According to the dictionary, fear is "an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat." In the spiritual community, "fear is false evidence appearing real." Both definitions have a place in our world, but since the things we fear aren't always false, I'll choose to go with the first one.
Differentiating between danger and fear:
Every action we take in life causes a ripple effect. Every action has consequences. Fear is a subconscious recognition of what these consequences could be. And while it's nice to believe fear is just false evidence appearing real, there are times when our subconscious is right and fear is justified. The stories our minds make up regarding something we are fearful of serve a purpose. They alert us to what is possible so we can take the steps to make sure the best course of action is taken in any situation.
Fear becomes problematic when we take the stories our minds create as truth, rather than potential. The case for most people with anxiety. Learning to differentiate between actual danger, and the potential for danger is really important when dealing with fear.
I love taking photos but it took me almost three years to start my own Instagram account because I was afraid of being seen. I'm a deep person and I knew creating an account and posting about my experience of the world would show the world how 'strange' I really was. And that had consequences! Perhaps I would lose friends if they saw the "real me" or I would not be able to get a job in my town if the person hiring knew I was into mysticism. There was danger, yes. But the reality was, those thoughts were only potentials for what could happen, not what would happen. So I kept my photos safe in my Iphone's gallery until I realized most of what I was worried about was projection, not a truth.
We always have a choice:
There is always a choice to believe in the stories fear tell, or to challenge them. Once we realize that yes there are consequences to our actions, and sometimes those consequences can affect us in negative ways, we can choose to act with awareness. Because most of what we believe about the world is false (especially for us anxious folk) the fears we have about taking certain steps or following a certain plan are more often than not rooted in a false danger. That's why it's important to out your fears and then dissect them.
Here are some questions to help with the dissecting process:
1. What is the likelihood of your fears coming true?
2. What would happen if your fears DID come true? Would this be the end of the world?
3. Is there anything you could do to solve the problems that would occur IF your fears came true?
Back to my Instagram account.
While it was true someone in my life could see my content and think, "hm, she's kinda strange..." this wouldn't be the end of the world. The people I care about and the people I want in my life will want to know the true me. If for some reason my posts offended someone (example: if my post went against something someone believed in... as is the case for Halloween where some people don't celebrate for religious reasons) I could have a conversation with them and discuss the beauty of diverse thinking and diverse beliefs. If that didn't work, setting boundaries and unfollowing is always a healthy alternative. As for a job. I will always be mindful and respectful of the ethics of the social work profession when writing / posting, but would I want to work for someone who lessened who I am and what I believe in? No. So that fear is not necessary.
Asking myself these questions and coming up with *hypothetical* answers makes it easier to make a rational choice. No matter the situation, you always have a choice to challenge fear or succumb to it. Being able to dissect your fears and know whether or not your fears will truly cause danger / if you can handle the danger if it occurs, is the most important step when motivating yourself to do something scary.
Which leads me to this:
Following your life purpose will be scary! It's suppose to be.
Because I know most of the people drawn to this site are on a mission to pursue their purpose I think it's important we chat about the role plays in doing that. Yes we have natural talents, and yes the universe steps up to assist when we are in alignment with what we came here to do, but we are here on earth to grow and work through karma. So... if you're wanting to do something and it's scary, it's probably exactly what you are meant to do.
We grow through fear. It would be odd if what we came here to do did not require we work through fear and do scary things. I'm a life path 1, meaning, I am here to create and lead. Leadership requires stepping out and being seen. So, why was I born an introvert with social anxiety? I believe it's because I'm here to learn to act despite fear. To learn that most of what I fear is nothing to fear at all.
Being fearful is not synonymous with being incompetent or being unsuited for a certain path. Being fearful is an invitation to work through limiting beliefs and get clear on what matters and what doesn't. Which is the whole reason for being here and the entire purpose of our life's work in the first place.
Being a writer requires I be seen, and because I love photography, starting an Instagram account is an excellent way to get my written work out into the world. Instagram, then, is part of my life purpose. It was also one of the scariest things I've ever done! By doing it, though, I've dug up deep-seated fears (the belief that I can't be a successful and be a mystic, the belief that 'being deep' was an adequacy, the belief that sharing my work was risky), got clear on what I value (people who love the true me) and GREW as a person. I know my Instagram example will seem silly for some people - but for me it is very real. Now I'm facing a new fear: the fear of showing my family my blog. To some people, this might also seem silly, but I'm terrified for so many reasons. So I am going to get clear on the fear, challenge it, and remember acting despite fear to follow my purpose is a gift to myself and my growth.
In a few days, I'll be looking back at this moment thinking: that wasn't so bad. And laughing realizing the things I am most scared about, are usually not that scary at all.
What are you scared of? What real dangers exist in that fear? And if those dangers came true, how would it affect you? And what could you do to mitigate it? These are the questions we need to ask to ensure we are acting from a place of rationality and truth rather than a place of fear even when things appear to be scary.
Enjoy this Halloween Monday! I look forward to seeing Halloween all over my Instagram feed.