How to Cope with Fear
One of the biggest sources of resistance when it comes to reaching for our goals (or even being able to dream up the goal in the first place) is fear!
Sometimes fear shows up in disguise as self-sabotage, procrastination, laziness, unexplained exhaustion, or perfectionism… but ultimately these are all tricks of the ego.
It’s important to realize that ego is not your enemy. Your ego has a job to do- it has to keep you safe. It’s there to protect you by any means necessary and it takes the job seriously. What is unknown is uncharted territory that your ego can’t know for certain is safe.
So when you get crazy big ideas… or you have a wave of inspiration and empowerment… Your ego likes to step in and talk you down. It gives you lists of reasons why you can’t do The New Thing, why you can’t make The Change…
Sometimes it tells you horrible things about yourself, just to convince you to stay on the safe road it already knows.
Your ego isn’t holding you back to be a jerk or to cause you struggle and pain. It’s holding you back to protect you… And that’s what fear is.
Think back to the basic principle of fear. What is the purpose of animals being able to feel fear in the first place? It’s to keep them safe. It’s to trigger that fight/flight/freeze response and hopefully save the animal from death in a dangerous situation.
Fear is your friend when you’re hiking through the jungle and you hear a growl behind you. Fear is what tells you to get the heck out of there. (Thank you, fear. Good advice.)
When I talk about coping with fear, I’m careful about my choice of words. Overcoming fear might be a good way to put it… but ultimately you want to cooperate with your fear. You want to work together as a team, rather than resisting it… because it’s a part of you as much as your ego is a part of you. In this life, you will always have a little fear buddy by your side.
So why would you want to start a war with it?
Your fear is a strength in its own right and when you want to push past it to do something, there are better ways to go about it than attempting to crush it or lock it away… because truthfully the day fear is gone from your life, is the day your soul leaves your body. Until then, you and fear are a package deal.
So… You can’t crush it, kill it, or defeat it… What are you going to do then?
This is the fun part- because now that you know fear is always going to be there, you give up on the distraction of trying to destroy it and you start the real work of becoming a better friend to yourself, getting more in touch with fear and learning the ins and outs of your own thought patterns and behaviors.
Here’s a tip to get you started coping with your own fear. This sparked the beginning of my own journey to befriending my fear and ultimately finding my own inner freedom.
This tip actually comes right out of Elizabeth Gilbert’s wildly inspirational book, Big Magic.
(Which I highly recommend as a powerful read for anyone wanting to change their life, write a book, or understand themselves from a more loving perspective, by the way.)
To work with your fear instead of against it, you need to do what any working relationship needs done: Address one another and set some goals and boundaries.
Write a letter to your fear and get it all out there!
With so much love,