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The Benefit of Fear - Part Two

Isabelle Bridges Boesch and Jessica Hagen

No matter what you’re afraid of, it’s always easy to ignore it or mask it by hoping it will go away. But in the long run, there’s nothing easy about having a nagging feeling that continuously returns because you haven’t dealt with your feelings properly. It’s best to face it and figure out the best way to handle it so you can take care of your fear and yourself. The incessant and consistently returning nagging feeling it can bring is much harder to deal with than conquering the dread itself. 

Think of every time in your life you matured mentally. There was probably something difficult you had to deal with, someone you had to stand up to, or a fear you had to surpass. The only way you changed or learned from an experience was by treading through the difficult steps to come out wiser at the end. 


Not the Enemy

Just as fear is a benefit, it is also a powerful, natural human emotion. As an evolutionary response, it kept our ancestors from being eaten by tigers and now those same instincts keep us from walking into traffic or from doing anything else that would be unwise or even dangerous. It’s a helpful biological response, but it’s not always understood. When we don’t understand something, it’s normal to be more afraid of it. Making fear the enemy puts a big wall between us and our dream, which is detrimental and disempowering. 


Your Viewpoint Matters

In our last article series — “Turning Balance on its Head” — we discussed the importance of considering the way you think about life’s difficulties and what you fixate on every day. It’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking negatively and concentrating on what has or could go wrong, but doing so does not lead to a more fulfilled life. This is equally important to how you should view fear. 

Don’t talk down to yourself — or others for that matter — for being fearful. Consider it a plus that you don’t jump into things without considering the consequences. However, remember to think clearly while you’re contemplating decisions. Don’t let fear overtake your ability to think rationally. If you know you can do something and you believe you’ll be better because of it, then figure out the best way to move forward without hesitation. Don’t hold yourself back because you may be scared of what could happen. Also remember that no matter what occurs during this process, you will learn from it and be able to love life knowing you did something rather than did not do something. 


How to Tame Our Fears

Once you decide to move forward, you have to know how to get a handle on fear. Fear is a natural emotion we experience, but we have to be able to recognize it to tame it. First off, take a step back and embrace the emotion. We don't actually need to crush our worry or put it away at all. We actually need to listen to it, appreciate it, and have gratitude for it.

For example, think of children when they cry. When children get afraid, they cry or whimper. They’re doing their best to communicate something and they don't have the language or the skills to articulate what they want to say but they're still communicating. The same is true of our fear. It's trying to tell us something with the only tool that it has — our emotions or our feelings.


When we experience fear, we should show it the same compassion we would show a crying baby. We should pay attention to it, not sweep it under the rug or try to crush it. Imagine ignoring a child’s cries instead of exploring why  and trying to fix it.  Ignoring fear doesn't have the same outcome that we think it will have or want it to have. It’s important that we don't combat being afraid. Instead, we need to welcome it with open arms to learn from it and appreciate what our mind is trying to tell us. 

So, again, fear isn't the enemy and we don't need to stop it, crush it, or annihilate it because it's critical. It keeps us alive and waiting for it to go away isn't going to make anyone feel better. Neither is defeating it or eliminating it, this actually keeps us stuck being afraid. 

To those of you struggling with any form of fear at the moment, you’re stronger than you believe. Look deeply into your soul and decide you can listen to it, appreciate it, and have gratitude for it.  Learn from your dread and know what you want and know what you can have. Accepting that being afraid is a normal, natural way for your body to make you stop and think about any situation is the first step to facing your fears. Once you are able to do that, learning from it and moving forward will be easier. 

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