Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Growing from Fear

I found an old journal entry of mine that said, "Why is my fear so paralyzing?" We all know that feeling, right? That place where we are frozen by our own fear. We may not see it as fear at the time, but fear is usually the root of the disharmony in our lives. It's that hidden thing that keeps us from trying new things, that makes it easy to criticize others, that prevents us from stepping out of the box, or speaking our truth, and it doesn't allow us to fully experience life.

I used to be paralyzed by the idea of stepping away from a consistent paycheck, towards my dream of being a self-employed, work-from-home artist, coach, and mother. This fear translated in my mind through thoughts like, "I'm not ready. I need more training. Who's going to hire me? There are enough coaches out there as it is. I'm not a real artist. We'll starve. I'll be a failure. How are we going to live? We'll lose our house." Ahhh...enough to make anyone go mad!

This fear soon developed into physical ailments. I started getting headaches. My shoulders, neck, and throat were tight ('Cause I wasn't speaking my truth and my thoughts were definitely putting the weight of worry on my shoulders!) The vibrancy of my being, that enthusiastic, excited-for-life energy was being drained and overtaken by negativity, worry, and self-doubt - all stemming from my fear.

It wasn't until I started observing and changing my reoccurring thoughts, trusting my intuition, and accepting the feelings that come from uncertainty, that I started seeing some deeper change in my life.
4 Ways to Face Your Fear (and grow from it, too!)
1)Accept It
2)Release It
3) Practice It
4) Go For It

Accept It
So many times I find myself resisting that fear is even present. This is when I'm not being really honest with myself. I start thinking that fear shouldn't be there. That somehow I'm being weak if I'm feeling scared. It's this resistance to fear that keeps me stuck! When I change a thought pattern from thinking fear shouldn't be there, or that I need to conquer it, I can ACCEPT that fear is a natural part of any uncertain situation. In fact, the flip-side of passion is fear, so taking steps towards living your passions will definitely bring up some fears. Accept that the fear will be there, and DO IT anyway.

Release it
It's easy to feel alone, like we're the only ones feeling insecure, worried, agitated, frustrated, depressed or scared. We ALL have these feelings from time-to-time. Rather than keep these fears bottled up, LET THEM OUT. There are many healthy ways to release our fears, and I know, from my own experience, that my mind, body and spirit feel so much freer when I give my fears a place to go.
Tips to Releasing Fears:

1) Write Them Down - Sometimes just taking pen to paper and free-form writing can be a wonderfully releasing exercise. Free-form writing is where you write without thinking about it. Just let the words come out. Write. Write. Write. Now you don't have to carry that fear and you've given it a place to go. (Having a favorite journal and pen is helpful.)

2) Create Sacred Space - Set up some space in your home that is YOUR own. A place where you can go and enjoy some quiet time. This might be a corner in your bedroom, a favorite chair or even the bathtub. Make it sacred by playing your favorite relaxing music, (Check out musician, Patrick Smith) lighting some candles, have your journal, pillow, inspirational readings or a yoga mat nearby. This is the place you return to where you can nurture yourself, especially when you are feeling scared. Just being alone and enjoying a few moments of stillness helps us reconnect to that strength and courage that is in us all. You may find that you're in need for some intense self-reflection time. Look up local retreat centers in your area. Many of them offer spiritual guidance that you may find very helpful.

3) Breathe - Nothing is more present than your own breath. Stop. Take a deep inhale. Feel your heart center expand. Smile slightly as you exhale. Usually when we are thinking about the past we are stuck in regret and doubt. When our thoughts are more future-based, we are stuck in worry. Present moment awareness helps us realize that there is no fear in the now. So focus on your breath, in this moment, and enjoy how good it feels to be alive.

4) Observe Your Thoughts - Nothing is more eye-opening than discovering the words and phrases you repeat to yourself throughout the day. When those fear-based statements arise (about every few seconds!), say this instead, "I do not need to think this thought." It's simple, and it works.

5) Affirmations - Once you start getting used to observing your thoughts, try focusing on the opposite. So your mind says, "I can't do that because I don't have any money." Kindly observe your mind thinking this, and without judgement, replace the thought with "Wealth comes quickly and effortless into my life." For examples of more affirmations, visit "Affirm Your Life".

6) Get Moving - I'm so grateful to have a toddler who wants his mommy to dance with him every morning! I'm not kidding...EVERY morning. Go to yoga, run, join a workout class, or try Zumba. Getting your blood flowing is a wonderful way to feel better and get your mind off your worry! And who can resist dancing to THIS? (DO IT NOW!)

7) Find Support - Find someone in your life who you feel safe with. Call this person when you are feeling caught up in self-doubt, frustration and worry. Sometimes just having the opportunity to talk it out helps you feel better and find clarity. You may find that hiring a life coach, or scheduling time with a counselor is a wonderful compliment to your work in facing fears. You don't have to do it alone! (Check out my new e-course to find a like-minded community. By the way, offering my e-course is definitely facing one of my fears!)

Practice It
Our fears offer us opportunities to grow. Find the releasing tools that work best for you, and repeat, repeat, repeat! It is in the practice that we learn the most.

Go For It
Even though you feel scared, do it anyone. In fact, the best way to practice is to do something that scares you EVERY day. Take small steps at first. Each time we face a fear, we connect to that inner strength and build our courage to face even more.

Your Personal Reflection: Think about something you've wanted to do in your life, but haven't because you were scared. Are you ready to accept it, release it and GO FOR IT? Be kind to yourself, and enjoy growing with each small step.


  1. Excellent insights --- Fear keeps us from experiencing life fully... Find retreat centers that might help on the journey: www.findthedivine.com


  2. I can so relate to this post! I went through many of the same fears and self-doubts as I grappled with leaving the law practice. I love your suggestions for releasing fear. Thank you for sharing!

  3. super post shannon! it took me about twenty years to get through those first four steps of releasing fear, and i find myself still repeating them as i get into new phases of life. very thoughtful analysis.

    p.s. the first photo is stunning :)

  4. Thanks to each of you for your comments. Yes, releasing fears is a daily practice. So glad you found some of my tips inspiring and useful.


Thanks for sharing!