Do you feel you have many reasons to feel afraid? You aren’t alone. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 6.3 million Americans have a phobia of some sort. Sixty percent of those surveyed are afraid of something that will never happen, 30 percent fear things that happened in the past and can’t be changed, and 88 percent feared health issues they might never experience. Additionally, 90 percent of those surveyed had fears about things labeled “insignificant.”
Worry sometimes turns into fear, and fear can become terror.
Any degree of fear, however, stops you from reaching your full human potential. It keep you stuck in place, unable to move forward to achieve your goals. Plus, your fearful thoughts only create more reasons to have fear. That’s why you want to learn how to move through fear, or to deal with it in a positive manner. If you can, you allow yourself to achieve a new level of personal growth and success. In this way, you can live your life fully and fulfill your potential.
Do You Have a Real Reason to Feel Afraid
One way to remove fear from your life, or at least to lesson its impact, involves looking at it differently. First, realize that there are different types of fear.
If you have a lion or dog chasing you, or you see a car about to crash into your vehicle, you have good reason to fear. In these cases, you are at risk of suffering bodily harm. You are in danger. Fear is a natural and appropriate response. You have “real” reason to fear.
When you are about to lose a job, get divorced, become homeless, or any other negative situation or event, these are not appropriate times to feel fear. The situations might make you uncomfortable, sad, or cause hardship, but you aren’t in danger of bodily harm. Therefore, you are not truly in danger and have no reason to fear.
If a situation has not yet happened and you are focusing upon it and “futuring” about how awful it will be “if you…get sick, end up alone, have no money, etc., you are not in danger. The situation hasn’t even happened! You are feeling afraid about the potential of a negative event. Plus, you still have a chance to change the outcome or find a way to handle it.
So often we create in our heads what we call fear. We think about the potential negative outcomes—”I’ll get sick and die” or “If I lose my job, I’ll lose my house and become homeless.” In fact, we have no evidence to prove that will happen, at least not yet. We allow our negative thoughts to lead to fearful feelings. That’s why fear has often been called “False Evidence Appearing Real.” We think we have reason to feel afraid, but, in reality, we don’t.
Terror vs. Awe
Here’s another way to look at fear differently:
With this in mind, you can find awe even in your terror.
To understand this spectrum and how it might help reduce fear, let’s first look at the definitions of terror and awe. Terror constitutes intense fear or anxiety. This is not simple worry but full blown, overriding fear. Awe, on the other hand, can include an overwhelming feeling of reverence or admiration—or the power to inspire these feelings. But it also can include fear or the power to inspire fear. So, for example, you can feel awe or fear of God.
In Hebrew, the word for awe, fear and terror are the same—“yirah.” The reason for this is simple: The words exist in different places on the same spectrum of emotion. To understand how this works, imagine yourself feeling awe at arriving at the top of a mountain and seeing the gorgeous panoramic view. Then imagine moving closer to the edge of the cliff and feeling fear. Now visualize yourself moving even closer to the edge, so close that your toes almost hang over and rocks tumble off the edge. This causes you to feel terror about falling.
If you take your terror and physically step backward to fear and then backward again to awe, you find yourself seeing the miracle of life once again. You find yourself feeling wonder and exhilaration at the miracles around you; you feel awe for God’s presence in all that exists. Thus, you experience both ends of the emotional spectrum of fear—terror and awe.
Don’t Focus on Fear
Simply changing your focus accomplishes this as well. If you were still standing at the edge of the cliff, you could focus upon the dirt and rocks falling and your toes at the edge of the solid ground, all of which bring up your feelings of vulnerability and danger. Or you could focus on the same thing you focused on as you came up the trail—the fabulous, awe inspiring spectacle of nature and God’s handiwork. Instead of fear, you would feel awe.
In this way you get back to awe not by physically stepping backward and away from that which causes you fear or terror. You simply back up your thoughts and emotions to the place where you felt awe, to the place where you experienced the thrill of life rather than the fear of death.
I suggest that each time you feel fearful you focus upon the fact that you are standing at the edge and are safe. Be in the moment. Allow yourself to experience the exhilaration of standing on the edge of a cliff and knowing all is well. Allow yourself to see the miracle in that moment, in the fact that you are safe on the edge of the cliff. Make a choice about how you will feel in the moment, how you will perceive the experience. Be in the “now.”
Walk Across the Bridge
You also can picture awe and fear as if they exist on opposite ends of a bridge and find a way to walk across the bridge from one end to the other. Your goal is to find a place along that particular bridge that feels positive and comfortable. Hopefully, you discover that as you walk along the bridge and end up at the opposite end of the spectrum. In other words, if previously you stood on the “fear side” of the bridge, you now stand at the “awe side.” Any other thoughts or feelings that go with your sense of fear can be used in this exercise. For instance, you can walk from “fear” side to the “courage” or “safety” side. If you felt “insecure” before, you may now stand on the side of “security.”
You can walk the bridge by taking small steps—actual physical actions—that help your traverse the mental bridge as well as move through your fear and your life. Also do so by making choices about where you place your focus (on fear, awe or safety).
By so doing, you dictate if you are able to move forward freely and courageously, unshackled by fear, towards your goals. Then, you live your life more fully and achieve human potential.
If you need help finding courage, I’d be happy to discuss how High Performance Coaching might help you move through your fear and fulfill your potential and live your life more fully. To set up a 1-hour FREE High Performance Coaching session, click on the link below. I’ll send you an application, and, after you submit it, we’ll schedule your session time.Click here to be contacted by Nina about High-Performance Coaching >>