FEAR. The word itself is uncomfortable. Say it out loud, and you may get this feeling of discontent, as if you just want to shove the word away, get away from it as fast as possible. It’s a little word with a lot of power. Because we give it power.
That’s right. We feed our fears. Sometimes subconsciously and at other times because we are stuck in a maze of self-defeating behaviour and can’t find our way out.
The things we fear tell us a lot more about ourselves than we realise. Yet, it is a subject that most of us choose to avoid, because when we think about fear, all those uncomfortable feelings, all the things we would rather avoid and hide from, come to the forefront.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
- Jim Morrison
Jim’s words are wise. We know in the rational part of our brain that it’s true. But we are not always ruled by reason, and certainly not when it comes to fear. So how do you go about exposing yourself to your deepest fear? Does that mean that if you are afraid of heights, you should jump out of a plane? Perhaps some people would advise you to do that, but here at Kaizen Journaling, we have a different way of doing things.
Remember the three As?
Awareness. Acceptance. Advancement.
They apply to fear as well. Let’s look at them one by one.
How much do you know about your fears? I bet you don’t know as much as you think, certainly not in your conscious mind. Hiding from our fears is a survival instinct. It puts our well-being in danger, so our natural tendency is to avoid it. But what if those fears are holding you back? What if those fears are stopping you from being the person you have the potential to be? What if they are stopping you from living your dreams?
If they are, then it’s time to confront them. First step to fixing any problem is awareness. Unless you know what you are dealing with, you will just blunder into it. You may get lucky, but chances are, you will end up more tangled than when you started.
FACE YOUR FEARS
What did you fear as a child? Darkness? A monster under your bed? Or perhaps you feared a grizzly uncle or even an older sibling or one of your parent? Make a list of all the things and/or people you remember being afraid of. Don’t think about it. Just make a quick list of anything that comes to mind, even if the fear was short lived. Keep going until you can’t think of nothing else.
Once you have your list, go through each item one by one, and in detail first write what you remember. For example, maybe you remember being afraid of your great aunt Nelly. When was this? Do you know why you were afraid? Did you do something wrong and were trying to hide it, or was it simply the way Nelly was that made you afraid? Or maybe she was drunk, and you were always afraid of her when she was drunk? Write all you remember about feeling that fear.
What about the fears you acquired since childhood? How have they evolved? What impact have they had on your life? What things you wanted to do, but haven’t done, because of your fears?
Don’t give yourself time to analyse or question at this time. Just keep writing, until you have detailed entries about each of your fears. Focus on the memories. If you are not sure whether it’s a true memory, don’t worry about it. At this stage, it’s just about info-dump.
If you did the previous step thoroughly, you would have an awareness of your many fears.
Now, think of it from an adult, pragmatic perspective. Do you realise now why you were so afraid? Is the reason quite different from what you remember as a child? What does it tell you? Does it tell you that you have changed, or is it simply your perspective that has changed?
What about the fears you acquired since childhood? Are you still holding on to them?
Go through the list again and again, in as much detail as possible. Write down if you’ve conquered that particular fear. If you did conquer it, how did you do it?
Look at the list of fears you believe you have not conquered. Do you agree? Force yourself to be objective. Try to look at it as an outsider. It’s not easy, but soul searching never is.
Keeping repeating Awareness and Acceptance steps until you believe that what you’ve come up with the true picture of your fears.
You know what your fears are. You’ve accepted them. Now it’s time to move forward.
This is where you are going to get a different-than-normal advice. You don’t need to conquer all of your fears, unless it stands in the way of the things you want to achieve, and the life you want to lead. If you have no interest in climbing mountains or jumping from a plane, who cares if you are afraid of heights?
Focus on the fears that are holding you back. Use the 80/20 rule. Which fears, if you overcame them, would have the biggest impact on your life? Start with those.
One at a time, you can conquer your fears, and one at a time, you can start moving forward.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY
Schedule a day, or even a weekend, when you can really focus on your fears, and get to the bottom of this. Give yourself permission and time to do these exercises. The more you delay, the longer your fears will hold you back.