Some days it feels like the battle with our fears is never ending. And in a way, it won’t ever end. When you place a high value on self improvement, you’re constantly pushing further and breaking down new barriers. But every time we cross a new frontier, there are new challenges that come with it. Fear is one of the challenges that accompanies growth.
The goal then is not to become fearless but to know how to deal with fear when it rears its ugly head.
But let’s be clear: there is a difference between a healthy fear of danger (which prevents us from damaging ourselves) and a fear of new, positive opportunities.
The trick is recognizing the difference. 99% of the time, our fears are the result of being on the edge of our comfort zone. Chronic fear, however, is ALWAYS a symptom of a deeper rooted issue. The only way to resolve the issue is to get to the underlying cause.
If you find that you’re having chronic fear in your life, the steps below might help you gain some deeper insight into what could be bothering you:
1. What thoughts scare the hell out of you?
Write them all down (even the ridiculous ones).
2. Look for the common threads
Look for the recurring theme among the fears. When we find the recurring theme, it becomes significantly easier to resolve the fears. Imagine that each of your fears or anxieties are like little buds on a huge tree. If you keep plucking the buds off, the root will continue putting out more flowers. You must get to the root to permanently resolve the issue.
This part can be a bit challenging, but I can guarantee you that you’ll find at least one theme underlying your fears. For example, Katie has a fear of spider bites, social anxiety, heights, and food poisoning. The underlying fear in all of these is of getting hurt. In the case of social anxiety, the hurt is emotional, while the rest of the fears point to physical pain.
Katie has a core fear of getting hurt because she does not feel safe.
Tip: don’t complicate this process. The root cause often stems from a basic human need. Some examples are: feeling a lack of fulfillment, feeling isolated, unaccomplished, or unloved.
3. Find your remedy
Now that you have the root of your issue, it’s easier for you to see how the fears themselves are a symptom of a greater problem. Just because Katie has a fear of food poisoning doesn’t necessarily mean she will be food poisoned, but the fear is a result of a greater issue of safety (or lack thereof).
This exercise is extremely useful because it shows us that not only are our anxieties mostly unfounded, but that they can actually help us uncover deeper issues.
When we don’t take the time to look for the underlying issue, we become bombarded by our fears and have no real way of resolving them.
Now that you’ve uncovered the root causes of your anxiety/fear, it’s up to you to resolve it. What can you do to directly affect the root cause of your fear? In Katie’s case, she feels unsafe, so she could ask herself: What can I do to make myself feel more secure? How can I create more stability in my life? What is creating this feeling in my life? How can I change my attitude towards it?
This is a great time to use a journal or talk to a friend about how you can resolve the root issue. You can also speak to a qualified practitioner about issues that you need help resolving.
4. Work on it right away
Remember that the root cause will always be something that you can work on immediately. A root issue is something that is rooted within us and not outside circumstances or people.
For example, if your root cause is feeling unloved, decide how you can make yourself feel more loved right now. What can you do that is loving for yourself? What are you in need of that you could give to yourself right now? What could you say or do for yourself that would directly impact your feelings of self love? Then make sure you do whatever it is you need to do to feel better.
Our feelings are our responsibility. We run into problems when we play the victim and say that our feelings are caused by someone or something other than ourselves. Now that you’ve found the root, it’s up to you to take the steps to resolve it. The sooner you take action, the sooner you’ll feel better. Taking our lives into our own hands is one of the most empowering things we can do. It increases our emotional intelligence and helps us to help others as well.
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