Fear is unavoidable. It’s a natural part of being human. In its best form it becomes our greatest motivator for change and our number one protector from danger. In its extreme form it becomes a prison of anxiety. Understanding fear and learning how to manage it is where our focus should be if we hope to make fear our friend and not our foe.
Fear can be our greatest motivator! Fear can be that urgent signal which says, it is time to make some much needed changes! Fear can redirect and course correct our life when we are not where we should be or who we should be with. And like Susan Jeffers says in her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, you can use your fear to generate real courage and live the life you were meant to be living.
Fear is also a natural protection mechanism in our bodies. A mechanism that has kept us safe since we all were a bunch of neanderthals living in caves. When there is real danger, like when a car is about to run you over, fear motivates you to jump out of the way. Fear only becomes a problem when we can’t get our foot off the accelerator of fear and we are unconsciously behaving as if there is fear all of the time. That is when fear becomes a disorder called, anxiety.
So many of us have experienced fear as our greatest prison. Fear can be more powerful than love, power or money and it can literally paralyze us or cause us to run from the very things we desire most. This is when fear becomes our foe.
Science has discovered genetics play an important role when it comes to how we experience and handle fear. We can literally pass down fears and traumas through our genes. Meaning you can be experiencing anxiety that was never even based on your personal life experience.
Therefore, it’s important to first identify you are having anxiety and discover its roots.
If you are experiencing, phobias, panic attacks, social discomforts that start to take over your life, (meaning you are forced to stop doing the things you once enjoyed because of symptoms like these), then your fear has become anxiety. Symptoms like excessive worrying, sleep problems, irrational fears, constant muscle tension, constant digestive issues, obsessions are all signs that you are in a constant state of sympathetic arousal ( fight, flight and survive) and it needs to be addressed.
As a meditator, life coach and yoga teacher I highly recommend all three of these elements when addressing anxiety. I can personally testify that these techniques work. Daily meditation is key to gaining control of your prison of anxiety. There are many types of meditation to choose from. There are no wrong choices! So, start experimenting and see which one feels right. I have some guided meditations on youtube if you want to start there.
**Also, please don’t give up on the first try (or tries). Adapting new behaviors, like meditation, take a little time to get used to. But, the benefits of meditation are scientifically proven to help overcome fear that has become a prison of anxiety.
Choosing the right therapist or life coach will also help with overcoming fear that has grown into anxiety. Talking out your fears without judging them is key. Learning to understand them and love them is essential in being able to overcome them. And finally doing a yin style yoga class, like restorative, Hatha, Iyengar, or Pheonix Rising are all very helpful for calming the central nervous system and relaxing the body.
Yoga, meditation and therapy/coaching will give you the courage to move through your fears. Instead of putting a band aid on them with outside distractions like, using or abusing substances or buying more stuff, allow yourself to move through fear. This is the one instance where choosing the harder path upfront gives you the long term benefits of emotional freedom on the backend.
Fear should be our friend but when it becomes our foe, hang on. Do the work the work. Find some good friends who will support you in that work and overcome the obstacle(s) until your fear is working for you!