Creating a Relationship with Fear

Saying that this year has taken an unexpected turn would be a massive understatement. With how suddenly lives had to change and adapt. it is natural for fear to also rise in the unknown. 

What if there is a way to work through our fear? Here is our guide to cultivating a relationship with your fear in order to move through it and overcome your anxiety.

What is fear to you? Is it a state of mind? Is it something to push away and avoid? We each have our own understanding of it, as we do with happiness, anger, and every other emotion. Emotions are temporary phases, and sometimes one phase lasts longer than the others, but in time they all move through us. Emotions are the body’s reaction to an event. In this worldwide event, there is a lot of fear showing itself. They come up, and they have a function, but they do not have control. You are the driver of your emotions.

Before we begin, let’s walk through a breathing exercise. This will calm your nervous system and create an opening to feel where your fear resides.  

Next, let’s identify where your fear is living. Place your hands on your body where you feel your fear - the tension you’ve been holding on to. This can be in your jaw, your feet, your gut, your shoulders, etc. By placing your hands where your fear resides, you are acknowledging this feeling.

Take a moment to feel your fear. Underneath the emotion, what message is your fear telling you? As emotions arise, they tell us different things. Some want to protect us from the danger outside, some want us to pay attention to our bodies and make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves. Knowing the message of fear allows you to know where it comes from and therefore what can be done.

We are creating a relationship with fear. This can be a partnership, a parent-child relationship, a friendship, or sibling rivalry. Cultivating this relationship will allow you to let go of whatever it is your fear is holding onto.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, shares her relationship with fear: 

“I allow my fear to live and breathe and stretch out its legs comfortably. It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too. In fact, I invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go. If you can't learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you'll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting. And that would be a pity because life is short and you want to do and make interesting things while you're here. And you have treasures hidden within you, and so do I, and so does everyone around us.”

Now that you know what your fear is telling you, what do you want to tell your fear?

Once you’ve shared whatever you need to share with your fear, how do you feel overall? Do you still have fear? If so, can you let it go for now? Can you allow yourself to embrace the absence of fear? Sometimes it takes a few tries to connect with our fear to really feel ok with letting it go. Just remember that you are the driver of these emotions, not the other way around. 

Cultivating relationships with our negative emotions will allow us to check in with ourselves and know why we are feeling what we are feeling beyond just understanding its cause. We are not our fears, and when we can separate and have a conversation with these feelings, we can then move through the negativity and find empowerment to lead a life rooted in love and guided by courage!