We all have fears. 

We all try and manage them to some degree, and some of us are more able to keep them from interfering with our lives while others of us can feel downright crippled.
Fear seems to take on this larger-than-life role that has a sole purpose of stopping or preventing what we are about to do when it doesn’t feel safe. This leaves us with a sense of having limited options in terms of what to do next: “face our fear”, as they say, and do it anyway, or we let fear run our lives and hold us back. The latter has a risk of leaving us in a perpetuating state of frustration, insecurity, or for some of us, shame.

Even those who can face what they think they are fearing can be left with a false sense of confidence when there’s not a true understanding of the fear in the first place. Really, it can feel like jumping blind and merely hoping for the best. When fear pops up in our lives, it can look like many different things ranging from emotional fears, relational fears, spiritual fears, performance fears, etc. We can experience apprehension or hesitation, resistance, excitement, a sense of posturing or shrinking, and in more extreme cases of fear we can become anxious.

All of these serve as a signal that there is something more going on, yet most often we are too busy bullying ourselves through it or trying to avoid it to slow down enough and pay attention. But, what if we were to actually do just that? What is we were to stop and really check in with ourselves about what the underlying fear actually is trying to say to us? More often than not, inside the tough exterior of our fear is a voice.

And more than that, it is a small voice that has a big need. I find in my practice that when we slow down and get curious about a fear and listen for that voice inside of it, we find that fears often (though not all the time) stem from unhealed wounds. We find versions of ourselves that got stuck somewhere along the way and as a result of not knowing what else to do, this part of the self camps out in a state of fear. It could be from a past relationship where a part of the self felt defeated, therefore the fear says not to care too deeply or be too vulnerable. It could be from an embarrassing moment that happened where the fear says not to stand out. Or it could be from something someone has said to us and the fear says they must be right. Actually, fear can grow from a wide variety of situations and circumstances and we are all so unique that it would be impossible to name all the ways parts of our selves can get stuck in fear.

My point? When we learn to work with our fears, when we learn to identify the voice from which the fear finds it’s power, we then have a tool and a method to help dissipate it.

We find that when we can speak to, encourage and express empathy to the part of us that got hurt (rather than just bullying ourselves through situations), we have a greater understanding of ourselves and are then better equipped to “face our fears”. Armed with a new sense of self-compassion and appreciation, courage has an opportunity to grow and healing can take place.

Joshua Emery

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