Feel the Fear and... Listen to It.

Two widespread fears that I see in my clients are the fear of failing, and the fear of being rejected by people who are important to them. They might have taken to heart something that was said to them or about them. Or they might have taken a risk which didn’t pay off at some point in the past.

Whatever the reason is, and as common and fundamentally human as these fears are, when they insinuate themselves between you and the life you want, it is a good idea to be prepared, so that we can listen to them calmly, take their warnings on board, and make an informed decision, rather than a knee-jerk one.

So, next time you recognise the stirrings of fear, do this before anything else: close your eyes and ground yourself by focussing on the physical sensations of the breath for a couple of minutes. Then…

Step 1: picture the failure or rejection scenario in your mind. What would happen if you were to take that risk and it didn’t go to plan? If you were to stick your neck out, make yourself vulnerable, and not achieve your goal? Make that picture real in your mind. What would you see? What would you hear? What would you feel? Include any physical sensations – such as knots, butterflies, shivers, tension. Allow yourself to become fully immersed in the experience.

Step 2: now picture the likely scenario if you were to stay the course, and *not* take that risk. What would the end outcome be? Again, make it real, engage your senses – what you’d see, hear and feel. Let yourself experience it.

Step 3: compare the two experiences. This is often, effectively, a comparison between short-term and long-term discomfort. And it’s not to say that choosing the challenge is necessarily preferable – you might find that that particular challenge is not for you, or maybe not right now. You don’t need to pick every battle – some of them may be other people’s battles, not yours. At this point, though, you will have a clearer vision of the two paths open to you: which one are you more drawn to now?

Remember to be understanding and compassionate towards yourself. Fear is natural, it is part of our condition, it has evolved to keep us safe. Your mind means well for you; it’s not something to fight. We can respect ourselves and flow with the mind, in harmony, instead of swimming against its powerful (and well-intentioned!) currents.

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