How many life experiences have you skipped because of fear?
I simply can not tell you how many opportunities I’ve let pass because of fear.
In my early twenties, I lived in a petrified state of “what ifs” only moving if I could predict the outcome. If I had the ability, I would also try to force the outcome.
Eventually, I realized that I was suffering. I was living in fear of the big bad wolf when the only things causing me strife were painful patterns that I kept experiencing. My life consisted of me running from what I thought was a Boogeyman. The Boogeyman was actually my own shadow.
The same cycles of fear of disappointment and actual disappointment illustrated how predictable I was in my daily life. Would those cycles have been broken had I been brave enough to follow through on exciting ideas and unique life experiences?
Well, yes. Eventually, I learned that the outcome is unimaginably different. The truth is that the only way to experience an unimaginably beautiful life is to work through the fear that is keeping our lives predictable.
Learning to identify our fears as well as the habits we practice to avoid their fruition is the key to disrupting patterns.
What is FEAR?
The Oxford dictionary describes fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something dangerous, is likely to cause pain or a threat.
An intellectual definition is all well and good, but not very relevant when a person is actively experiencing fear.
What I find more powerful is the ability to articulate, to oneself, how fear feels physically. In order to understand what fear does to our bodies, we must familiarize ourselves with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system is the part of our anatomy that reacts to any danger perceived by the brain. This part of our nervous system is what triggers our fight, flight, or freeze response.
When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, the body prepares to protect itself. An individual may experience rapid heart rate because the body is preparing to run or react quickly. A person may also experience shaking because the muscles are getting ready to defend the body. (1) Other symptoms include dilated pupils and bladder issues.
The level to which the sympathetic nervous system is activated is dependent on the perceived threat. Even a small event can lead to an acute stress reaction. If a person feels as though they are in immediate danger, the body’s own defense mechanisms can inspire a panic attack.
Dearest reader, I want you to know that fear and I have had an intimate relationship for the better part of my life. I know what it feels like to have knots in your stomach for seemingly no reason. I’ve felt the dread of making a decision, not clear if literal death was on the other side. Spoiler alert: death was never on the other side.
What It Looks Like When We Are Controlled by Fear
Our relationship with fear is created during our youth, while our nervous system is developing. As children, we observe our surroundings and decide what level of fear is necessary to survive. A lot of times our perspective is warped, depending on the types of adults we find ourselves around.
From a young age, we develop our inner voice. Much like our perspective, this inner voice is largely influenced by our environment and the voices of our caretakers. If our environment is dangerous and unpredictable, we grow up with an inner voice that is constantly warning us of all possible danger that exists.
Because of this programming, we may find ourselves repeating the unfulfilling cycles of our past simply because fear is familiar.
When your inner voice is controlled by fear: you are controlled by fear.
Our thoughts determine our emotions as well as our actions.
If we are constantly trying to protect ourselves from the fear of danger, whether physical danger or emotional danger, we will subconsciously gravitate towards the familiar because the familiar is predictable. An anxious mind will love predictable circumstances because it offers the illusion of control.
Even the act of procrastination can be linked to a belief system defined by fear. If an individual knows that performing a task will contribute to their life experience changing for the better, they may still avoid the task because the change is scary.
A lot of the time we self-sabotage because we subconsciously know that the worst thing that will happen is that everything will stay the same. Deep down, the sameness brings comfort.
Using Fear to Raise Your Vibration
Being an anxious person or having an anxiety disorder does not mean that one is trapped in a world of fear forever.
I actually believe that fear is an amazing tool to use when one wants to quickly change their life and work through their limiting beliefs.
If you would like to use fear to raise your vibration, there’s only one way to do this:
CONSCIOUSLY SLOW DOWN
When our body experiences a fear response the mind and the body both speed up in order to appropriately react to a threat.
Shifting into awareness whenever triggered leads to a person no longer being controlled by their fear responses. Instead, this person may use the breath to stay present within the body. Long, slow inhalations and exhalations activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that communicates safety.
In this state, it is more possible to hear one’s thoughts and to identify what aspect of physical reality acted as a trigger.
I invite you to use every fear response as an opportunity to rewire your mind. When you feel yourself begin to sweat and your heart begins to pound inside of your chest, go straight for the breath. Breathe and allow your thoughts to come and go without claiming any attachment to them.
Use fear responses to train your mind to become more inquisitive as opposed to reactive.
This process allows you to consistently identify limiting beliefs and then release them. Every time you experience a limiting belief consciously, it holds less power over you. The limitation disperses and the belief becomes less and less relevant to your experience.
The practice of identifying a fear state and then understanding the belief that created the fear is a practice that transforms realities.
So ask yourself: “What am I so afraid of?”