Last year I wrote a blog about fear and the role it can play in maintaining a healthy body weight. Recently I’ve been thinking about fear and its wider implications – how does fear prevent you from living the life you have the potential to live?
I love the movie After Earth. Yep it’s pretty cliched but the core concept, that fear is a construct of the mind, is liberating. Any situation can be viewed as potentially dangerous but it’s how we see it, how we choose to react, that determines our physical and emotional response, our fear.
Whether we consciously acknowledge fear as the inhibiting factor to our moving forward, making change, living to our potential, or whether we’re ignorantly and blissfully unconscious of it – fear can paralyse progress.
Many of our fears stem from beliefs that we adopt through childhood experiences. The problem with this is that, as adults, we are then constrained by the limitations of our child’s mind. We may not be aware of these fears but nevertheless, unless they are challenged and overcome, they will prevent us from moving forward.
If, as a child, you aren’t encouraged to explore new things and take a stab at something and instead receive negative feedback, then it’s possible you will be fearful of change or any new challenge as an adult. Stepping outside the known and into the realm of the unknown takes a leap of faith and a degree of self-belief, both of which are hard to develop when you’ve an inbuilt fear response to anything that’s different.
Trauma of any sort, both physical and emotional, may also trigger the fear response. This is particularly powerful when the trauma is experienced as a child because the fear is adopted as the default position and will be deeply embedded.
Fear as and of itself is not something to be afraid of! It’s a primitive, automatic response to perceived danger. But when fear of emotional fear becomes your fall-back position you are limiting your potential.
What the hang do I mean by that?
Fear has a universal biochemical response – everyone who perceives danger will experience some form of physical reaction from pumping adrenalin release to sweating, shaking, nausea etc. The word ‘perceive’ is critical here because we choose what is ‘dangerous’ and what isn’t. However, our emotional response to fear is very personal and can include trying to avoid the physical feelings associated with fear at all costs. Phobias are based around the extreme end of the fear-of-fear response.
Yoga teaches us that nothing is constant. We live in a state of change regardless of whether we want it or not. Nothing lasts forever because everything changes. The great news with this is that we have the ability to change our reality and we can experience emotions with the sure knowledge that they too will pass – fear included.
So how do we identify our fears and move past them?
Being mindful of situations where you experience a fear response is the first step. As with all yogic practices, it begins with the smallest steps! Many addictive behaviours are triggered by the need to avoid feeling an emotion, fear included. Are your habits based on a need to avoid feeling the physical responses to emotional fear?
Once identified it is possible to change your response; to create new patterns of behaviour. Acknowledge the feeling, breathe deeply and think about its origins – what caused it? What pay-off are you getting by responding in this way? There will be one or you wouldn’t continue to do it!
Once acknowledged you can then let it go and resolve to create a different response by setting a clear intention. Be mindful always and gentle because you’ll inevitably revert to old habits but if you accept that all things change, even feelings are temporary, you can create the life you deserve and live to your full potential.
If you’d like to explore your unlimited potential through Santosha Life Coach, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a personalised coaching programme.