By Olga Sheean
Imagine how brazenly you’d live your life if you could erase every negative experience you’d ever had. If you had no memory of failure, disappointment or loss, wouldn’t you be fearlessly optimistic, daring and expressive? Fear is not only the single most self-defeating factor in our lives, it’s also the most futile and exhausting. Programmed into us at an early age, fear may help keep us safe from physical harm, but it also prevents us from being fully ourselves.
All fears have appetites and demand to be fed. They’re constantly on the lookout for evidence to support their existence – and they find plenty in a society that’s filled with insecurities over money, jobs, relationships and health. Fears pervade every aspect of our lives, often cleverly disguising themselves as common sense or the most prudent option. But the good news is that they’re easy to track down because they all live in the same place: inside your head. You can choose to make them comfy and welcome or you can evict them and free up that space for more supportive guests – guests that won’t keep you awake at night, give you indigestion or discourage you from being outrageously yourself.
Since fear is based on perception, and perception is often based on limiting beliefs, our fear is rarely justified (unless you’re about to jump out of a plane and you forgot to check your parachute). It’s a legacy that gets handed down from generation to generation, but holding on to it won’t make your ancestors proud.
How to stop feeding your fears
1. Validate yourself. Since your fears live in your mind, you control how much airtime they get. Are you reinforcing your fears rather than validating yourself? Do you put yourself down, telling yourself you can’t do something, you’re not good enough or you’re bound to get hurt, rejected or worse? Do your insecurities stop you from fulfilling a dream, going out on a date or even just accepting a compliment? If you weren’t lovingly validated growing up, you need to give yourself this essential life-affirming gift. Validate yourself every chance you get – in your head and in your life. Counter all negative self-talk with a positive validation of your ability to do or be whatever you wholeheartedly choose. Feel the fear… then tell it to take a hike.
2. Banish the saboteurs. If our fears are running the show, we often resort to comfort foods, smoking, drinking or drugs – anything that will dull the pain, stress or anxiety. We put a lid on our feelings so that we can’t feel just how much it matters that we’ve failed in some way. Yet suppressing our emotions means suppressing our energy and keeping ourselves stuck in limbo. Only by removing these props can we get to the root of what’s really going on, since every emotional prop represents a thwarted potential. We may think of them as necessary coping mechanisms in a world seemingly beyond our control, but they’re a form of emotional denial and, ironically, a form of self-denial that prevents us from having – and maybe even knowing – what we really want. Break the cycle and let go of these unhealthy dependencies, let yourself feel what really matters, and get the support you need to figure out what you’re switching off, so you can start living life fully switched on.
3. Get connected. Join or start a meet-up group (see www.meetup.com), take up break dancing, buy a talking parrot, become a Big Brother/Sister, go to a comedy club – do whatever it takes to stir up your emotions and help you connect with others. Sharing yourself is another way of validating your unique contribution – and of discovering passions you never knew you had. Start saying No to your fears and saying Yes to fearless fulfilment.
For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.olgasheean.com