One of the hardest things to do when you’re trying to move forward in your life, is to not allow the fear you’re feeling in the process to hold you down. So many times as a writer, and a child abuse survivor, I found myself feeling trapped and suffocating from my own personal internal fears. They crept in my mind, infesting my thoughts. For a while, I truly didn’t believe in myself and gave up on me all together.
I know that I’m not alone in this. As creatives, we do take all the criticism and negative dialogue to heart. Getting back up when our fears are screaming to stay down before the same thing happens again, is paralyzing. I didn’t want to live that way anymore. I’d had enough and wanted to live in a world where I could breathe and just embrace those fears, and was ready to learn how.
After years of study, mentors, following the lead of positive role models, and making myself more of a priority, the shift began. I started to truly understand why I had my fears and how to see them as a confidante rather than an enemy. My fears haven’t gone away. The difference is that now I can function and still keep pressing forward, knowing that fear is essential, and for that I’m grateful.
I want to share what I’ve learned so far with you. Keep pushing forward and know you have people rooting for you. You are not your fear.
- Recognize your fear and call out to it. Get clear what you’re afraid of? It can be anything. A lot of times our fears are like an onion that has multiple layers. Is it spiders, clowns, natural disasters, death, being betrayed, getting too close to someone, loss, or rejection.
- What happened to create this fear?
- How’s it holding me back?
If you’re going to let go of fear you have to recognize them first. It’s called gaining consciousness. When you start to feel yourself getting a little anxious or fearful. Stop and take notice. Think to yourself. “Oh, here it is. I’m starting to get freaked out.” Then instead of reacting on your instant emotion…breathe, and see what’s going on around you that could be creating this element for you. Watch how your body reacts to the situation for future understanding. By doing this you start to disengage from the fear as the ultimate reality. It helps you to realize that you are NOT your fear.
Fear is like a fire alarm alerting you to check something out. It propels us into action. This is good, not bad. We need this. Julia Cameron says, “Fear is not something to meditate and medicate away. It is something to accept and explore.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of Eat Pray Love and Big Magic, says that when she’s writing and feels fear sit on her shoulder, she acknowledges it and says, “Thank you for worrying about me today, but I don’t need you,” and then she continues working. She doesn’t allow fear to control her choices or future because she is aware that she needs fear at times, but at other times she does not.
The ego is the part of your mind that stays focused on the past. It feeds you all the time with messages like “Watch out. It’s going to happen again.” It’s a sly trick that riddles our fear that we will indeed hurt again, and so instead of being open to different experiences and outcomes, we halt. Most of us are afraid of fear because so many of our experiences with fear have been negative. But, in reality it is a very positive and useful tool.
- Face your fears. You have to surrender them and become willing to create a different reality. Your life will not turn out differently unless you do something different.
- What are your truths? (Example: Mine are being a Child Abuse Survivor, Scoliosis Survivor, a writer, speaker, and a mom.)
- Write down your truths and start peeling back the layers on the onion one step at a time. Don’t try to take it all at once as your truths are going to be deep, hard, and emotional. Be gentle with yourself as you unfold each layer.
- If you’re afraid of speaking, go speak. If you’re afraid of snakes, pet one, read a book about one or go to an aquarium and stand in front of the tank.
- Encourage yourself to do one scary thing each day. It doesn’t need to be large. Every step forward is something to be proud of.
Courage, confidence and even fearlessness are the result of facing, embracing, and dancing with fear. Looking it straight in the eye and having a partnership with it.
- Learn to start loving yourself and appreciating all that you are. Piece by piece this helped me to start healing. Once I began nourishing myself, the fears I felt didn’t seem to control my life anymore. I began to have clarity on how to handle tough situations and challenges with more grace, patience and positivity. I started taking charge of what I wanted with my life.
- Motivational videos– Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Tony Robbins are a few of my favorite speakers who have really excellent talks. Check out TEDTalks.
- Gratitude journal- No matter how tough things feel, there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Looking for those things gives us the opportunity to really see that we can indeed find beauty even in the darkest moments.
- Positive Affirmations-Write five things that you want to start shifting in your mind in a positive fashion. One positive thing per card. If you have negative internal dialogue that you don’t think you’re very smart, write on your card “I’m Smart.” Use reverse psychology and say these five affirmations EVERY SINGLE DAY. Important: Say those like you mean it.
- Take time out to breathe. I like to call these moments “Lauri Time.” Depending on the week, sometimes I can do an hour or sometimes its fifteen minutes, but do something that calms your spirits, is enjoyable, fun, or creative. Whatever you need in that moment, give it to yourself. You deserve to be treated with gentle loving care too. I have a fun way to do this. Write a list of twenty things that you really like and once a week, treat yourself to one of those things.
- Read uplifting books– There are so many to check out. Chicken Soup for the Soul books are some of my favorite. Form a book club with a group and read a different inspirational book each week.
- Get an accountability/support buddy– It’s important to find someone that you can share your process with rather it’s the big or small things. Every step is important to acknowledge.
- Surround yourself with people that can relate to you and things you’re going through. A group of like-minded friends. Having this support system and team will help to keep you grounded, supported, and appreciated.
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing the monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” -C. S. Lewis-
- Be present and realize that this is your life.
- If you were told that you had six months to live, would you live in the present or the past?
- What kind of things would you do? Travel to a dream destination, swim with dolphins, spend more time with family, start taking a class you never allowed yourself to do…
- Why are you waiting? Why not start now?
Put on your shield and cross the monkey bars. If you fall, get up and try again until you’re on the other side. You are NOT your fear! You’ve got this. –Lauri Schoenfeld