9 Easy Steps for Overcoming Your Fears
There's a scene in Steven Spielberg’s Hook where Robin Williams's character, a 40-something Peter Pan, can’t eat a thing in Neverland because he can’t see the food. In Neverland, food is invisible unless you have the right mindset. The Lost Boys teach him to let go of his grown-up hangups so he can enjoy what’s in front of him: a buffet poised for a food fight only a '90s family film could deliver. When he finally sees the light (i.e. turkey legs), the gang yells "Bangarang!"
The day I started working with a clairvoyant transformational coach felt like one of those moments. I became conscious of blind spots and emotional blocks that were significantly tripping me up in both my professional and personal lives. One thing I have consistently come back to is the idea moving past fear.
We’ve all encountered a wide variety of fears. Some are paralyzing (fear of commitment, gluten), and others are just plain uncomfortable (asking for the whole can of soda on an airplane). All this angst and pains bear the same family crest. They thrive, bent on the same mission: holding you back. I sought out an expert on overcoming the intangible forces that sometimes drive us: clairvoyant transformational coach Christina Carlin. Carlin has plenty of tools in her toolbox for replacing negative beliefs and becoming your best self.
Here are her top hacks for getting over fear and tapping into the brave spiritual gangster we all have inside.
“I always advise people when they are feeling any kind of fear to first get quiet. If you are at work and feeling fear, get to a place where you can take a moment, even if it’s at your desk,” says Carlin. Take a few breaths, relax yourself, maybe even close your eyes. “Get to a relaxed state where you can then go within and ask the question: What is it that I am most afraid of right now?”
“Ask the question, What is it that is putting me into fear mode? What is it that is making me feel most afraid? Come up with what it is. Maybe it’s a fear of failure or rejection,” says Carlin. Once you figure out what is keeping you in fear, you can take action to produce real results. “Identifying what makes you afraid should help you to release it. If this is not the case, I would invite you to consider that you may not have identified the root of the fear, or it may be layered. Get quiet and again ask yourself, Why is this coming back up? Is it really about failure? Perhaps you’ll find that your anxiety is actually a fear of getting out of your comfort zone.” Dig deep, people.
I was at a writing seminar once and the speaker said to the audience, “Show me fear. Point to it.” Of course, everyone laughed. Fear is intangible. It has no physical body. Therein lies its power and its curse. “Fear is just an illusion. It’s not real,” says Carlin. “So if fear truly is an illusion and it is not real, then we can replace that illusion with something else—courage.”
“Once you figure out what is keeping you fearful, the trick is to turn that feeling or emotion into an act of courage,” says Carlin. “Think of one step or a series of steps that you can take rather than stay paralyzed in fear. Make a list. It could be approaching a new client, asking for a raise, acquiring a new skill. Ask yourself, if I had no fear, what would it look like? What would the actions of a brave person be? Write them down and pick one. It can be baby steps. Maybe it’s as simple as saying yes. That is still positive forward momentum.”
While fear may not be technically real, it can be useful. “Fear can be used as a barrier to keep us safe and protected. It’s ultimately limiting your potential.” Are you using fear as a barrier to keep you from really showing up in life? What’s the payoff? Do you get to be comfortable? Safe? Put a leash on the dragon and take action.
“Thoughts are powerful. Repurposing your thoughts to the positive, uplifting language of encouragement will keep you in the right pattern,” says Carlin. When you realize you are acting in fear, you want to make a conscious shift into a more positive thought pattern. “Maybe your thoughts are, I am afraid to do this thing because I am going to fail or I am not capable or good enough. Thoughts become things. Instead of saying, I feel afraid, stop and say to yourself, I have courage.” Pay yourself some compliments and put the doubt and negative self-talk to bed.
Emotions need to be seen, felt, and released. Resistance and attachment will only exacerbate an emotional state. “Fear will not dissolve without first being recognized. It is crucial to hold the space for your feelings to be experienced fully. If you have fear, don’t go into denial or tell yourself you shouldn’t be scared. Judgment is not useful or effective. Instead, simply acknowledge the emotion autonomously without assigning meaning. I have fear. Then take an action in the face of that emotion.” Without fear, there would be no bravery.
Look at your actions and behavior patterns when you are feeling fearful. The actions you take reflect how the world occurs to you. Shift your outlook and your actions will inevitably follow. Why do you sit in a chair? Because it occurs to you as “a thing for sitting.” You don’t use a hammer to bake a cake. A hammer occurs as thing to build things with. "Do you want to feel brave? Strong? Allow fear to occur as an opportunity for bravery. Consciously choose actions that would be brave. If you’re not totally buying it, just do it anyway. Fake it until you make it. Courage is measured in actions. It all looks the same from the outside."
Specificity of language is important. “Eliminate the word ‘want’ from your vocabulary. “Saying you ‘want’ something is rooted in a lack mentality; it is acknowledging what you don’t have. Instead, step into a place of creating. Life is a mirror: Things show up based on how you are vibrating. You cannot attract what you don’t reflect,” says Carlin. “Say you find yourself dating a partner who can’t commit to you; I would ask, where in your life are you not all in? Your job? Why is this showing up? You get what you put out in the world.”
For further reading about finding your strength and overcoming fear, see the books below.