by Lisa Martin
Fear can be broken down into three categories: real (healthy), imagined (thought-based) and worry. Although fear can get in your way by interfering with your hopes, dreams and desires; fear is not always a bad thing. Admitting you’re afraid of something can be quite enlightening. It gives you a chance to assess what is holding you back.
Real Fears Protect
Let’s look first at “real” fear—that is, fear or concern that’s based in reality and that you must look at and evaluate rationally to maintain your physical, emotional or spiritual health. This kind of fear often acts as nature’s warning signal. There are definitely times when we are fearful of pursuing our hopes, dreams and desires for some very good reasons. Feeling “afraid” to start your own business when your financial reserves are lacking is a healthy fear. Your intuition is sending you signals to get your financial house in order before embarking on a new venture.
Imagined Fears are Obstacles
On the other hand, imagined fear is not healthy. When our fear is basically in our heads, it can be unreasonable and paralyzing. Imagined fear needs to be examined very closely. Is what you consider a reasonable fear really a rationalization or an excuse for not trying. Do these sound familiar? “I’m too old to do something new.” “It will take too long.” “I won’t be any good at it.” “People will laugh.”
Most imagined fears are outcome-based—in other words, the source of the fear is attached to an end result or how things may turn out. Two of our most common fears—of rejection and failure—are both are deeply connected to an outcome. However, if you spend all your time fearing an unknown outcome, you will never move forward. When you detach from the outcome you release the fear and give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the process.
Worry Depletes Energy
The third category of fear is plain old worry. It’s the most pervasive form of fear, and it saps your time and your energy. Worry is pointless and counterproductive. It leeches time and energy away from achieving your goals.
But how do you stop? The key to overcoming worry is to learn new patterns. When you find yourself beginning to worry, pay attention to the physical symptoms that accompany that reaction. Notice what kind of thoughts you have as you begin to worry. Switch your thinking to the present. Focus on what you are doing right now, in the present moment. Use this as a ritual to cut worry off and bring you back to a more positive frame of mind. Over time, as you grow more aware of the signals your body is giving you, you’ll worry less and be more productive.
Playing with Your Coach
Make a close assessment of one of your fears. Is it real, imagined or just plain worry?
• If your fear is real, then understand its source and create a plan to deal with it.
• If your fear is imagined, analyze whether or not it is outcome-based. Assess the risk of that outcome versus the benefit of the action you are afraid of.
• Make a commitment for the next month to practice dropping and/or ignoring most of your negative, fearful thoughts and worry. Gently but firmly push them away. As they return, push them away again. With a little practice you’ll find life is a lot more fun without them.