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Exploring and using our fears
16 Nov
By 2020Visionquest
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“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship”
—Louisa May Alcott

There’s an irony in how often we fear the concept of fear. All too often, we want to avoid it, suppress it, deny it, and ultimately risk losing the beneficial aspects of fear. Like many of our emotions, fear is there for a reason and we can use the positive parts with the right mindset. It is a tool of our body to inform us something important to us may be in danger. This tells us two important things immediately if we are mindful:

  1. What is it that is important to us?
  2. What is the risk?

In fact, the very act of asking these questions already starts us on the path of managing the fear in a positive way. Fear causes physiological responses which typically heighten our physical preparedness in the classic fight or flight response. When we engage our rational thought processes, such as by asking questions of the situation, we support the rational brain in the defusing of the biological responses. This calms us from the trigger points while providing the alerts of what is valuable and what is the risk.

I suggest three important questions to inquire of yourself or your support team, which can be a very positive part of this process:

  1. What is the worst consequence of the situation?
    Often we discover the realities are less severe than we imagine before putting clear definition to them. In the most severe cases, we do want to understand them as part of understanding how to avoid them.
  2. What actions can we take to avoid them or to mitigate the consequences if they should happen?
    Similarly, we often have much in our ability to manipulate the risk involved. This can provide comfort to realize that even in some of the worse case situations we have the ability to recover reasonably if not to avoid the situation entirely.
  3. What are the consequences of not choosing the risky action?
    Intentionally choosing to understand risks can be a positive if the consequences of not doing something also invite other risks we might otherwise fail to evaluate. Too often fear prohibits our choice to attempt things which bring good in our lives and the lack of that good is a risk of stagnation or worth we should evaluate against the consequences of something going awry.

All of this is to hopefully demonstrate fear is an understandable, natural, and often very positive experience. If we ignore it or fail to take the beneficial approaches, it can lead to anxiety or less healthy choices. If we choose to use it as a trigger for choosing the right responses, it can build our confidence and skills in reacting in ways which best benefit us both by the experiences and the physiological normalizing of our body’s response.

I have these fears and concerns many times in various pursuits for my own life. Even in the writing of this blog. What if I don’t write it well? What if someone disagrees? What if nobody cares? I could let these questions build into a cacophony or break down the above process. I value being helpful and relevant to people. I might get angry comments or no comments. These might make me sad or frustrated and I have a host of ways to help myself when that happens.

So here it is. What do you think–can your fear work for you? Can you use the fear instead of being  controlled by it?

Be well,
Randy Pierce

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