As promised, here are four more ways you can live beyond your fears:
- Suppress your negative self-talk. Most of us are terrific at thinking of all the reasons something will fail. That little critic in our head yaps at us constantly. Reese Witherspoon uses self-talk as a way of not letting her fears take over. In that article in Marie Claire she tells herself, “OK, I believe in myself enough, I know I work hard. I know I can bet on myself.” Practice nurturing your positive self-talk.
- Take small steps. You don’t have to do everything all at once. June, who’s in my class, tells herself, “I’ll try one more thing today.” Barbara, also in the class, shared a story: When she was younger, she wanted to dive off the top of a boat. “I didn’t go to the high dive first. I started low,” and kept moving higher. Eventually, “I did it!”
- Know when to “let go.” As Barbara grew older, she began to lose her vision and is now nearly blind. Her guide dog, Rusty, lies quietly under the table during our sessions. At home one day, she took Rusty for a walk. Knowing her neighborhood well, she kept giving Rusty commands – left, right, straight ahead – even when he sometimes tugged on his leash to turn a corner. Eventually, she was lost and felt panic setting in. She took a deep breath, said, “Home, Rusty,” and he led her safely there. Like Barbara, there may be times when you’re feeling “lost.” Perhaps you need to let go and trust that it will work out.
- Do something! Remember, fear can easily turn into generalized anxiety and worry if it’s not dealt with. Action reduces fear, while inaction and feeling hopeless increase it. Once I started writing this article instead of just worrying about it, for instance, my fear that “I don’t know enough!” dissipated.
Fear is powerful but normal. Our survival depends on it to warn us of threats. We do have ways to manage our fears, though, which can minimize their ability to constrict our lives. Despite their angst, Suzy writes and publishes; Dr. Sam’s new business is thriving; Leigh and Meagan are working hard to stay clean; Barbara successfully lives with her blindness; and June continues to take small steps every day toward wholeness. Are they revealing a touch of insanity? No! They are being deliberately courageous, living beyond their fears. You can, too.