How to Find Fear’s Achilles’ Heel and Regain Your Power.

I’ve been thinking about fear lately; how pervasive it is, how it ensnares the mind, and how it interferes with our ability to express ourselves and live life fully.

In working with clients, I often find that after a bit of digging, fear reveals itself as the core issue driving people’s discomfort and distress. Disguised as a slue of unwanted difficulties – anxiety, Imposter Syndrome, people-pleasing, setting boundaries, communication, over-working, lack of confidence, feeling stuck, intimacy – it is fear that is in the driver’s seat, urging us to take a dead-end or divergent road.

Fear often tries to convince us to avoid situations, emotions, thoughts and actions that are necessary in creating purposefully and living a conscious life. Fear’s companion is often avoidance.

The good news is that fear has an Achilles’ heel – a weakness. And, you have the ability to find it, shoot your metaphorical arrow at it, loosen fear’s grip and regain your power to drive in the direction of your choosing.

But first, an acronym that serves as a clue:
FEAR
Feeling
Emotion
Aversion
Response

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, aversion is a feeling of repugnance toward something with a desire to avoid or turn from it.” Our tendency is to want to turn away from the object of our fear, but doing so allows fear to grow and strengthen its grip on us. We regain our power by doing the opposite.

When instead of running or hiding, we turn our attention towards the very thing that we want to avoid, we are back at the helm, navigating life by choosing consciously, instead of relinquishing control to our minds’ devices. It’s why we encourage children to look when they imagine something hiding under the bed. The monsters in our heads tend to shrink or even disappear when we shine a light on them. It’s not that we do not feel afraid. It is that we are bravely willing to face fear to examine and challenge it if necessary.

Fear is not the enemy. It is an emotion that kept our ancestors alive, and which allows us to do the same. We want to be afraid of an oncoming train when we are standing on the tracks. The problem is that the mind oftentimes falsely labels circumstances as dangerous. It exaggerates and convincingly tells us that there are monsters where there are none to be found.

To start aiming your arrow at fear’s Achilles’ heel:
1. Notice that there is an urge to turn away, an aversion.
Example: I don’t want to say what I really feel.

2. Invite curiosity and ask, what am I afraid of? Keep asking, digging deeper.
Example: I am afraid that the person will be angry, disappointed, sad, etc.
I am afraid that they will tell other people.
I am afraid that they will leave.
I am afraid that I will be alone.

3. Challenge the fear. Ask, how likely is it that my fear will happen?
Example: Not very likely.
Possibly, but I am not sure.

4. Consider the costs of letting fear choose your actions.
Example: I am not being authentic, a quality that I value.
People do not know what I feel.
My needs are unmet.

5. Ask, will I be okay if what I am afraid of happens?
Example: I would feel sad for a while, but I will be okay.
I have other people in my life.
I can make new connections.

6. Consider and take supportive action.
Example: Express my fear to someone that I trust.
Take time to journal my thoughts and feelings.
Make a list of the qualities that I want to embody, and plan a few action steps.

As we consistently meet fear with curiosity, its charge usually begins to subside. We start seeing and proving to ourselves that we are stronger than our fears. We build resiliency, confidence and most importantly, are better able to navigate life’s difficulties and make choices that align with our values and wellbeing. Perhaps, we will continue to feel fear, but it will no longer be in charge.

In the words of “the Gambler,” a song made famous by Kenny Rogers, you’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run. Sometimes the mind is telling the truth, and running is the best option. Sometimes, taking our time is a better choice. Playing the game of life well requires us to be courageous and willing to look, not only at what is around us, but especially at what is within. We need to have an intimate relationship with our thoughts and emotions. Only then, can we see our cards clearly and make conscious choices that support us in creating a life worth living.

Need support in facing your fears? Send me a message with your thoughts or questions. Perhaps, I can help.

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