Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting Unstuck From Fear

This week, fear seems to be the theme. Getting past fear has come up in several of my sessions with patients who are dealing with life changes. Overcoming fear was part of the conversation I had with a friend while walking together at the beach over the weekend. When it was the topic in a meditation group I participated in earlier this week, I knew I wanted to write some about facing and moving through fear. The intriguing question that kept reoccurring was, "What would you do or be, if you could get beyond your fears?"

What do writers and thinkers tell us about fear? Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life says it's important to remember that fear is a limitation we place on ourselves. She suggests we release the need for fear and replace it with reminders to ourselves that are positive and loving. We create safety within ourselves. Hay offers us this affirmation," I am a powerful human being! I love and honor myself. All is well and I am safe." (Repeat often!)

Zig Ziglar, the amazing motivational speaker and writer, offers about fear that we should let our faith be bigger than our fears.

Dr.Wayne Dyer, psychologist and writer, says on this topic, "You can transcend any fear and self-rejection that defines your life. Treasure your magnificence and live as beings of light and love."

My favorite book on the topic of letting go of fear is the very useable and readable, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. I have often recommended this book to people, because it really helps you understand how we can get immobilized in our fears, being so afraid of making a mistake. Jeffers helps us see that if you are gentler with yourself, you can often realize that any movement out of your own small box of life can be good. It can help you get into the next sized box of life. We each need growing edges in our life, or we get bored and stale.

Many successes are a series of choices and course corrections, so try to take the pressure off yourself to have a whole path to a big goal figured out in advance. If you take one small step, the next step may get clearer. Think of driving in a rainstorm, where you can only see so much of the road ahead of you at one time. Jeffers helps us to see that the bottom level fear that most of us have is not being able to handle "it," whatever "it" is that life throws at us.

Another classic I love on the topic of overcoming fear is Gerald Jampolsky, M.D.'s Love Is Letting Go of Fear. This book is elegant in its simplicity, with lovely drawings to illustrate its main points. Jampolsky, a psychiatrist and writer, believes there are only two places people operate from in relationships, and in life: love and fear. It's far better to choose love as your base of operations.

How can you get unstuck from your fears this week which are making your world too small, and your vision of yourself too limited? Try these tips:

1. Write down your own reflections about what you would do, be, or have, if it were not for your fears.
Share your thoughts with someone you trust. Set some baby steps. For example, if you have been thinking of going back to school, your baby step could be looking at the course offerings at the college nearest to your home or office. The baby step should be something that you can do with a small amount of effort within an hour or so.

2. Use the energy invested in the fear to break through it. Let it make you mad that we are all here for a limited time, and that you have not been taking on the task of leading a bigger, more meaningful life in the present.

3. Imagine how you feel when you accomplish one of your desired goals. Take in that proud, warm, alive feeling. Channel it into more baby steps forward. Do, evaluate, adjust, and repeat.

4. Be present in the now. Fear is past and future based. Take what constructive action you can take today towards one goal. Don't use your past guilt or hurt or your fear of the future keep you using those things as an excuse for making your life the best, most beneficial thing you can create.

5. Ask a therapist or someone else you trust for help in getting started. Often in working together collaboratively, we can nudge you ahead in a more efficient way, helping you build insight as to what is getting in your way. Smart people ask for help and don't try to do everything alone.

Fear? Just because it's normal, don't let it limit or harness to create, improve, grow, and be of service to others. Recognize it, and push past it. Your bigger, bolder, better life is waiting for you to step into it!

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