Fear is like a warning sign. It alerts us whenever we’re about to travel from the known to the unknown, from safety into danger. It is a by-product of our beliefs—an enforcement tool we utilize whenever we confront a conflict between what we believe about ourselves and the world around us, and the reality we see in front of us. It is like a wall we construct that blocks access to any place, person, or situation that is outside of our self-constructed, limiting comfort zone.
Some fears are reasonable – they keep you safe, like the fear of growling dogs. Not approaching a violent animal can help you to maintain all of your digits. Other fears motivate us. Fear of poverty can push you to seek an education and become productive and prosperous. Both of these fear shields keep you moving smoothly along your life path. They keep you safe and motivate you to succeed.
Some fears, however, are not helpful. They restrict life unnecessarily. They don’t facilitate progress as much as they impede – like glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. Fear of giving presentations to groups could severely limit your career path.
So this can get confusing.
When you feel your stomach twisting into a knot and have a sudden urge to find the nearest bathroom, how do you know if the fear you are experiencing is helpful, even essential to your survival and achievement of your goals? Or if it is limiting your experience, holding you back from enjoying life to its fullest?
First, be aware of the fear and curious about its origin and purpose. How do we do that? Remember why you create your fears—to block you from going where you believe you should not or cannot go—to feel safe and secure within the world of your creation.
Imagine being raised in a small town. You are taught from birth that life outside your village is fraught with danger and that the only safe path would be to find work and a suitable local mate and settle down for a lifetime within the town limits. What imaginary fears might you concoct to keep yourself at home; Fear of crime in the “big city,” fear of people with different colored skin or accents, fear of being discriminated against as an uneducated yokel? It doesn’t matter if your rationalizations are valid or even reasonable. All that matters is that you believe them to justify your limited life experience.
So, the key to living a more happy, fulfilling life is not to eliminate fear – but to eliminate or modify beliefs you identify are holding you back, limiting your experience of life. And, becoming aware of fear helps you to identify those beliefs.
EX: To protect their children, many parents give them the time-honored admonition; “Don’t talk to strangers.” Wise advice for first graders walking to and from school. But when you grow up, get a license, and try selling real estate, not talking with strangers could limit your income.
So how do we eliminate or modify limiting beliefs? That will be the topic of my next blog – teaser!