How many times in your life have you longed for change, for something different? Perhaps you’ve been dreaming about a new job, wanting that promotion that’s around to corner to challenge yourself even more and grow, or it could even be that you want a new home or are desperate for a more balanced life. Wanting this change and not achieving it can leave you feeling dissatisfied with your life in general. We all go through these stages in our lives where we want change but are afraid to do things differently. So, how can we deal with fear and not let it hold us back?
Fear is a normal human emotion. It’s a survival instinct and an indication of protection. Rather than trying to fight it or overcome it, let it become your friend, or your trusted advisor. If you see a rattlesnake and are afraid, you have good reason to be. If you remove yourself from the vicinity of the snake, you’re making a move in your best interest. However, if you’ve been unhappy in your career and a new job opportunity comes up and instead of going for it, you are afraid and don’t pursue it, you are potentially making a move not in your best interests. In this case, your fear has shut down the potential opportunity for future happiness or success.
You will never stop having fear. So accept it when it shows up. Dialogue with it, learn from it and harness the power that it can bring. Instead of battling to overtake it, work to become friends with it. I’m going to show you how, with a simple technique that can bring powerful results, so that you can make the changes in your life you so desperately want.
- Identify the fears are that are holding you back. Sit back and close your eyes in a quiet place and see what fears come up for you. Typical easily identifiable fears include fear of failing, fear of not making enough money, fear of not being good enough, fear of being rejected and even fear of dying. But sometimes people find that what they fear most is success. Typically this has to do with how life may change if the person is successful (e.g., “how will my husband handle it if I make more than him,” “if I get this job, then I won’t see my friends very much,” etc.). So, what are you afraid of? Once you’ve identified these fears, write them down.
- Close your eyes and visualize your fears. What do you see? What do they look like? Color? Size? Location? Activity? Energy? How do you feel coming face to face with the visual? I remember one of my clients explaining in detail what her fear looked like. She described her image as being a large, overwhelming, tall, black blob that could morph from liquid to solid. It took on a scowling face and came running towards her. Yet, in her mind, she felt strangely calm. She could feel that this monster’s job was purely to protect her. A sense of ease went through her as she realized the intentions of this monster were good. And, oddly enough, that monster’s face transformed itself into a warm, friendly man (whom she later named Ralph) ready to talk with her.
- Have a dialogue with your image. You might think I’ve gone a bit crazy, but talking with your visual not only gives you better understanding but it will also give you a greater sense of calm. Ask it, what aspect of me are you protecting? How long have you been protecting this? When are the times that you feel the most need to provide protection? What are you trying to tell me? Listen to what is said and continue to ask questions. Doing this dialogue process through journaling works great and can be an extremely eye opening exercise to help you better understand your deepest fears.
Through her dialogue with Ralph, the client I mentioned above realized that she was primarily working with a fear of not being smart enough. This fear began very early in her life and even though she became a medical doctor, the fear still subconsciously created anxiety for her. But when she stopped resisting the fear and instead began listening to and respecting it, she began to experience peace of mind and greater confidence in going for her dreams.
So that’s it. A very simple process can help you get on the same page with your fears and enable you to work with them rather than fight against them. Try it. What have you got to be afraid of?