“Do not fear the aging of the body, for it is the body’s way of seeking the root.”
Even without being in crisis mode, our everyday fears and our fears about the future can debilitate us, keeping us from taking that next step, from listening to that visionary voice inside. But when we let our fears prevent us from taking action, we only create a future to be afraid of—one full of regrets, irretrievable opportunities, and a “safe” life that is more frightening than anything.
Even though our circumstances change, fear never goes away completely. Even the most successful people in the world are afraid. Instead of blocking the fears from their minds or hiding out from them, they figure out what their fears are trying to say. Then they plan how to guard against what they are afraid of—and move forward anyway.
Fear is an evolutionary development. It developed to protect us from harm at a time in human history when avoiding immediate threats was most important to our survival. Those whose fear prevented them from being eaten by a predator lived on to reproduce.
This adaptation is not so useful when our fears are about the less immediate future. The fear can debilitate us in the here and now, the time when we can take actions that will benefit us in the long run. Therefore, figuring out what your fear is trying to tell you makes sense, but trusting your fear in its immediacy is often a mistake.
One sure-fire way to stop the fear process from overtaking you is to step out of the situation that feels threatening. Take a few moments to center yourself (even in the moment the fear is gripping you) by taking a few deep breaths. Then, with all your might, move your attention from the immediacy and give yourself this respite so you can take what I call a “god’s-eye view” of the situation.
Once disengaged from the immediate threat, you will be able to discern that which is truly a danger so you can determine an appropriate response rather than reacting impulsively and inappropriately.
This present time is a great time to reach out to others, especially those in a similar situation or those who have gone through it and survived (and preferably thrived!). Someone else might also have insight into what your fear is trying to tell you, especially if it’s something you don’t want to admit to yourself. Sometimes just saying our fears aloud helps diminish them, and sometimes just knowing we have support no matter what can reassure us that, even if our fears come true, we’re not alone.
Sometimes a distraction works better than anything, something engrossing that can give us a break from our own anxieties, so we can face them again from a fresh (and refreshed) perspective.
Ultimately, action is the best weapon against our fears.
Even small steps can embolden us to take more small steps, then larger steps. Right now, those first steps might be simply writing down everything you are afraid of, and then using your imagination to come up with every possible solution. Just mind dump—don’t judge what you write. Sometimes, even the most ridiculous ideas can be springboards to innovative answers you might not have thought of otherwise.
Once you have a game plan in mind, break it down into actionable steps. Then, as much as possible, let the fear go. It has served its purpose. You don’t need it anymore.