“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela
Fear acts as an anesthetic shot: once you are under its effects, your clarity of thought is utterly diminished. When faced with a highly risky situation, the world contracts. Fear takes over your mind and it rules it at its own will. Fear does not help you find solutions. Fear reduces all possibilities, all opportunities of getting unstuck to this: ”I am afraid and I have to get out of this situation!”
Fear is not real. Danger is. Fear is only a product of an unruly mind that is very fond of weaving stories. Not new stories, not empowering stories… Fear’s best strategy is spinning again and again the same old stories. To be able to let go of fear is to be able to acknowledge when it creeps up on you. Now, stay still and observe its masterwork. Notice how it clutters your mind slowly and steadily. Observe how your body is reacting. Are your hands getting cold? Do you feel that the earth is slowly engulfing you? Maybe little shivers down your spine? Most of us experience these moments. It is not pretty, but is is a part of being human. Feeling is.
How can I get out of this, you might ask? What if it was not a question of getting out of fear-mode, but acting against and hand-in-hand with your fear? What if letting go of fear meant to let go of being subjugated by your fear? Stay with your fear. Breathe in and breathe out. Pay special attention to the situation itself. Use your senses to assess the surrounding: feel your body, acknowledge what is happening inside it, listen to the noises, feel that you are grounded, realize that you actually have a variety of choices. Allow these choices to unfold. Take the decision that best serves you in that specific moment.
What else will support you in letting go of fear in the long run?
- Let go of the need for certainty
Life happens. Good and bad unfold on a daily basis. Instead of investing so much energy in designing the perfect environment for you to feel safe and surely in control, maybe you can just trust. Remember, life is for living.
- Let go of clinging
The more you cling to things outside you as means to define yourself and your life, the more vulnerable to fear you are. Let go, open your fists, breathe deeply in and release whatever you think about who your are, what you are supposed to do and not to do. Free your mind of whatever you think you could not live without. You can. As Buddha says, “You can only lose what you cling to.”
- Let go of procrastination
The deepest fears of humankind, fear of not being accepted, fear of failure, fear of not being in control, fear of our own greatness, fear of being judged, etc. are usually what trigger procrastination. Stop it! It’s not bringing you closer to your dreams. During every action, ask yourself if that is taking you closer to who you’d like to be.
- Let go of comparing yourself to others
You are not the others. You are your own self, with your own unique talents and gifts. Be grateful for them. Let go of the illusion of perfection and ideal life. Take a look around you. Count your blessings. Be grateful for what you have in your life now. Let go of judgment, superiority, inferiority, jealousy and envy. They don’t serve your purpose of becoming who you truly are.
- Let go of complaining
Switch from the “poor me” position. Fear indulges in your not taking responsibility for your own life. It just gives it more space to conquer and make use of as it sees fit. And it’s not to your benefit. Ask yourself “what do I need to let go of so as to have joy in my life?”
- Let go of negativity
Learn to know the signs of negative emotions. What is generating envy, anger, fear, irritation, unease? Release it with love and understanding.
Declutter the corners of your mind where fear can hide. Poor sunlight inside your inner world and create space for peace, joy and forgiveness in your life.