You should make friends with fear because fear will help you if you’ll just let it. Fear will get you to where you most want to be if you’ll just let it guide you. Fear can really be the best friend you ever had if you’ll just open your mind a little and be willing to look at fear like that. It’s counterintuitive, I know. But there’s a difference between real fear (which ends in bodily harm) and head fear (which is everything else that keeps you stuck).
Real fear is a physiological reaction in your body that keeps you safe from harm. Head fear is psychological in nature and is your traveling companion, trying to help you out but in reality mostly limiting you by its incessant voice always hollering inside your mind, “Watch out! Be careful! Stay safe!”
There’s always going to be fear. Fearless doesn’t happen very often for human beings unless you’re somehow either too young to understand (like toddlers) or otherwise impaired (like intoxicated). All the rest of us, I’m convinced, get scared when faced with certain situations that throw us out of our comfort zones. Since that’s true and fear is going to be your companion no matter what, then why not make friends with it?
1. To make friends with fear, use fear as a roadmap
Fear can and will point you in the direction that you’re meant to go if you’ll just let it. The most likely scenario for you is that the things/relationships/career/goals/etc. you most want are on the other side of fear. That’s true for all of us. You’re not alone in this, you are in fact in excellent company with me and several other billion people.
So what if—just what if—you look at your fear as a kind of compass, the needle pointing you at your true north? Well, I’d argue that you will come to be grateful for your fear (like a good friend simply pointing out the truth) instead of resentful of it (something hindering you and holding you back). All you have to do is head in the direction of your fears (like a map guiding you from where you are now to where you most want to be) and you really will come to create a life you love.
2. To make friends with fear, use fear as fuel
Fear has energy and power in it. Mind you, when you don’t consider fear your friend, that energy and power is all directed at keeping you small and in your comfort zone. But what if—just what if—you turned all that energy and power toward what it is you most wish you could have/be/do/say? What if you could use that fear as a catalyst to take action and change your wish-I-had-that into your I-finished-that-and-now-it’s-mine?
It’s your choice how you direct that energy. Will you focus that energy on defending why you can’t or will you focus that energy on seeing just how much you’re really capable of? It’s always your choice. So if you don’t like what fear is doing in your life right now, all you have to do, I say kindly, is choose differently.
3. To make friends with fear, use fear as a barometer
A lot of the time, people (yes, my hand is raised, too) are filled with doubt. They aren’t sure of the path they’re on, if it’s the right one, if they should be choosing differently, if they will ever make it to where they most want to be, if they are wasting their time, and on the list goes.
But what if—just what if—you use your fear to measure the accuracy of your path? What if the more scared you are, the more likely it is that you’re headed in the right direction? What if you were willing to trust that your head fear was actually like a good friend, taking your hand and leading you correctly? What if you were to follow fear’s guidance (much like you need to trust yourself and follow your own intuition)? Well, I would argue, you would get to where you most want to be a lot more quickly and with a lot more self-trust. And self-trust is paramount because once you trust yourself implicitly, success isn’t far behind.
Some things I’ve learned:
- Head fear is only as debilitating as you make it.
- You get to choose (yes, I say kindly, it’s a choice) just how much you’re going to let fear run your life, make your decisions, change your behavior, limit your choices, and on the list goes.
- Thinking of fear as your traveling companion and embracing the fact that fear is just going to be there will make your life easier and your stress level decrease. I know that seems odd (What? How can embracing fear help you relax?), but that’s what happened for me. I’m no longer fighting against fear rising up while trying to tamp it down or rallying against my own reaction to having fear; I just accept that this is the way it is. Then I figure out the best way to manage it, which is usually by diminishing fear by making it smaller and more manageable (baby steps, no matter how tiny, will still get you where you want to be).
So what will you do to make friends with fear?