Frequently, it’s referred to as like a criminal robbing unsuspecting victims of pursuing dreams, relationships, and even of simple daily activities.
However, fear doesn’t have to be the bad guy. In fact, it can be the collaborator needed to motivate, to push past self-limiting beliefs, and to explore areas of life, which result in rich self-discoveries. How can that be bad?
I once believed fear to be a fellow conspirator preventing me from pursuing opportunities. But the more I explored how it made me feel; I discovered that it wasn’t fear that got me into trouble. It was my perception of how the relationship worked that was the problem, and that is bad.
Making Friends with Fear
So how does fear go from bad guy to good sidekick? Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m going to share three ways that fear has been my accomplice in self-discovery.
First, meditating on death.
Second, developing a faith-based practice.
Third, getting comfortable being uncomfortable.
Some of these techniques may trigger memories of our parents telling us to stay away from Johnny so-and-so three doors down, but they’re amazingly transformative if you can just learn to change your relationship with fear.
Meditation on Death Allows Life to Bloom
The idea is to sit and explore the life cycle; to realize that there will be ups and downs yet life (in this form) will go on – until it doesn’t. This practice is not meant to be morbid but motivational.
Since we don’t know when life will end, we should strive to practice overcoming our fears by learning to live in compassion, love, and patience. Once we experience the inner change of the dissolving of fear (even if only a tiny bit) the outside world becomes noticeably different.
Eventually, we come to a place where we approach our life feeling abundant and peaceful. Think Carpe Diem and then watch as opportunities open up around you.
Faith is Another Word for Hope
I realize that this might turn some people off, but a faith-based practice isn’t always associated with religion. For me, faith is tied deeply to my Buddhist beliefs and religious practice but as Seth Godin says in his book Tribes, “faith just really means hope.”
The definition of hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen like living the life you’ve imagined. I don’t know about you but living the life I’ve imagined sounds pretty good. The only way to achieve this goal is going through the fear.
Instead of holding fear as the object of our attention, let’s try keeping faith/hope as our object of attention. When we have faith/hope, we often find ourselves with an equal amount of renewed life energy. Befriending fear is the first step in this sort of transformational work.
Become Comfortable with Uncomfortable Things
This last technique is the most difficult for me. I can sit down and reflect on life and death until the cows come home, and I have no issue with developing a faith-based practice, but try something new? Well, that’s a whole different story.
Putting yourself in (reasonably) uncomfortable situations will push you to your limits. At first, it’s wise to pick small activities to complete and as it gets more natural and more comfortable to try tackling more significant tasks.
For example, you might consider attending a webinar or conference on a topic of interest, maybe calling up that one person to pick their brain, or perhaps it’s going to a meditation class for the first time. Pick one activity you’ve always been afraid to try and just do it!
These three methods are not some sequential order of rehabilitation. Feel free to try one, two, all three or none at all. The most important take away is that if we want to achieve goals, experience deep peace and change our lives for the better than we must reshape our relationship with fear.
First, by altering the type of attention we give fear, we begin to view it as an agent of change and not so much as a criminal. Second, we begin to explore and search for ways to transform the object of fear. Third, our inner world changes thus changing the outer world.
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Original article posted on the blog CM