“Fear doesn’t exist anywhere, except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie
Stop and think about what that means for a minute. For some, it is not easy to understand and digest. I remember the moment that I sat in The Dale Carnegie Course and had this revealed to me. For years, I hadn’t done things because I was afraid, afraid to fail, disappoint, not be accepted, or loved. I had become afraid of so much, that it had altered my life, not for the better. And here it was, so simple and right on the money, I didn’t know what to do with it. I was hit with an onslaught of emotions. Why hadn’t I realized this before? I am not sure if it held the same magnitude for others that it had me, but at that moment so many thoughts and emotions ran through me.
I went home that night and realized just how crippled I had become in my life because of fear. I sat alone in my chair and reflected on the role that fear had in my life, and it was hard to swallow. I was responsible for so much of my struggle, and I had never seen it before. I made a commitment at that moment to keep pushing through fear, shutting it down and becoming more present in my life. It was the day that I declared myself on my journey to find my voice, and what an incredible journey that has been.
I am sharing this with you, in hopes that you find the same freedom that I did at that moment. When you realize that fear is a choice, you realize that you have power over it. Fear is not something that exists in the world; it is not something we can see or touch. It isn’t real. Therefore, as easily as we create it, we can shut it down. As humans, we create stories in our mind and treat them as real. Our stories about the past and the future are what leave us feeling disempowered, afraid, and often, stuck. The power comes when we can acknowledge that those stories are just that—stories. When we can free ourselves of stories we create around fear, and allow ourselves to be fully present in this moment, we open ourselves up to new things, experiences, people, and wins.
Easier said than done? Not really. Here are some tips to help you disarm fear and push past it:
By becoming aware that the fear is present, you can then begin to take a good look at it. You can then ask yourself if the thought that is causing the fear is true or if there is another way to look at it. Thoughts do not equal truth.
Shift your context
By shifting how you relate to the physical response your body has to the fear you can create a more empowering context for it. For example, I used to be terrified to speak in front of people and would take my physical response to it – shaking, butterflies in my stomach, nerves – as signs that I shouldn’t be doing it. Now, I still get these sensations as I step on stage to speak to a group, but I relate to them as a sign of excitement and anticipation rather than fear.
Be in the moment
Release the story of fear you have, and be present. By shifting focus to the current moment, you are taking the focus off of the future, which is where we become fear-focused. The fear is often triggered by thoughts and stories we are creating about the future when there is nothing that is threatening us at this moment. When we feel fear, if we can stop and shift focus to being fully in the moment it will help release us from those feelings of fear.
Take the leap
Face the fear. Make a leap in the direction of the life you want to create. When you do, you will realize it’s not as scary as you thought and although there was discomfort, nothing caused you harm. In fact, that discomfort only helped you to grow.
“What we fear of doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Transformational Coach | Change Catalyst | Marketing Strategist | Entrepreneurial Executive
Alison Grimley is a Miltonian, a mom, a marketing executive, a community activist, and a Dale Carnegie-trained specialist in effective communication and human relations. Her column, Ask Alison, is Alison’s views, both personal and professional. It is her story, and it’s your story. Send Alison your questions, your comments, and your thoughts on living your life to the fullest. Alison’s columns are available weekly here at MiltonTalk.ca. You can also find Alison’s style and fashion tips under Lifestyle–she is our BEST YOU advocate and guru.