Kicking Fear to the Curb
Fear seems to be running rampant in our days, these days. Current events and looming transitions are profound and we must take notice of what we see, hear and experience around us. Perhaps more importantly, I find myself noticing what's within—my own thoughts and feelings. Then I take note of how I am acting as a result of these thoughts and feelings.
When fear rises, I have been asking this question: "What thought has triggered this feeling of fear?" It's a self-diagnostic—an opportunity to conduct a check-up on where my thoughts are leading me. I continue to find the practice helpful.
Our fears have the ability to rule us. We can also dismiss them and fail to take stock of the "why" behind them. To me, either option is a great disservice we pay to ourselves and the people around us. When we live into one extreme or the other, we miss out on life.
So today, I'm inviting you to join me in further assessing these fears. If you're like me, sometimes they seem like a ball made of rubber bands. In order to understand what exists at the core of my fear, I must begin to look at each, pulling one apart from the others to investigate it individually.
Consider taking out a sheet of paper or opening up a new note in your phone. Write down the name of each fear you can identify today (or a phrase that describes it) and then ask yourself the questions below for each fear you've captured. If this feels overwhelming, investigate a single fear and see how you feel before continuing onto the next. Really give yourself permission to take time with this process.
*Note: if you've experienced trauma in your life and haven't processed through it in counseling or another healing setting, I encourage you to walk through this process with a professional or with a trusted and deeply mature friend.
- What is the name or the sense I have of this fear?
- When is the first time I experienced it? This might not come to you right away as you reflect—that's okay. Take as long as you need to remember.
- What was happening around me or to me in that moment? Consider what you saw, heard, smelled, touched, etc.
- What did I feel in that moment? Describe it. This is important.
- What did I do when I felt afraid that day? What do I wish I would have done instead (if anything)?
- What happened next?
- Who was with me?
- Did someone help? Who was it?
- Did someone add to my experience of fear in that moment? Who was it?
- What did this fear teach me about myself and other people?
- What decision, vow, or agreement did I make in light of what I experienced that day?
- Is that decision, vow or agreement the truth?
- If not, what is the truth?
This is deep stuff. It's okay if you hit something really tender. We can only heal when we engage our wounds and seek to understand what is underneath them. In my life, I have found, time and again, that I have made an agreement in a place of pain. That agreement has kept me trapped in a cycle of brokenness. Whenever I'm triggered by a fear that connects back to that unhealed piece of my story, I hurt all over again.
There is so much hope, though. Our fears can teach us valuable lessons about ourselves and others. The key is to understand the choices we've made and continue to make from the place of pain. New decisions can be made as we see the truth and apply it. We can heal. When we heal, we can help others. It's pretty amazing, actually.
Here are a few additional questions I find valuable:
- What new decisions will I make when I am triggered so I can continue to walk in healing? e.g. What thought will I now think in order to replace the old thought with the truth?
- Who might walk with me in this process? (We all need help and encouragement.)
- What has this fear taught me about what is real and important?
- Why does that matter to me? Why might that matter to the world?
If you didn't sit with someone as you processed these questions, I highly encourage you to share what you've uncovered with a trusted friend. Talk through the stories and the agreements you've noted. Share how you see yourself living out that fear today and share what triggers you've noticed, as well. Invite their help to take steps toward what is true and good. When we encounter love, fear is driven out. Fear cannot exist where perfect love exists.
Let's choose to kick fear to the curb in 2017... The world needs our courageous actions, motivated out of abiding love and hope, more than ever before. Let's walk in healing, peace and freedom and bring love everywhere we go!