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Redefining your relationship with fear can be a powerful and impactful shift in your life--though that doesn't mean it's easy. Fear, for many, can be debilitating. It can trigger a sense of danger. Through our sympathetic nervous system we feel fear to keep us physically safe from external threats by stimulating the brain's fight-or-flight response; however, there is often no real physical threat present. Indeed, our bodies are wired to react as though we are being chased by a saber-toothed tiger, even though we may only be reacting to our perceived threat of something yet to come or situations that have absolutely no risk of physical harm. Stressful situations like receiving a text from your boss, or running into an ex-partner, can alert the body to respond as though there's a physical threat. Thus preparing you to fight or run away. In doing so, the sympathetic nervous system takes action, changing your breathing, affecting digestion and preparing for "fight or flight." This stress response; however, isn't necessarily bad. If we can harness it effectively, it can actually be very useful in helping us achieve our dreams.
It's not all bad, fear can also...
• Give us feedback. When we feel fear it's helpful to look within at the root cause of the fear; we can be paralyzed by it or get curious about it. Is it a concern for looking good and maintaining "appearances"? Fear of rejection? Fear of embarrassment? Is your mind reliving a past event that still has a big hold on you? Whatever it is, this fear offers us real feedback on things that can potentially hold us back. It lets us know what we can work on to be better equipped to achieve our goals and by examining that fear, you can slowly begin to control it rather than allowing that it control you.
• Be a sign that you're doing something that's important to you. It's not often we're impacted by doing things that we don't care about--that just creates resistance and laziness. Fear is very different. Fear comes up when we're at the edge of something meaningful to us, and remembering that can help us push through fear and create our vision.
• Energize us into taking action. The physical energy that comes from fear can actually be harnessed and used in the pursuit of our goals.
• Make us more relatable. Often an overlooked benefit of fear. Sharing our fears can create community and offer people a sense of connection. This level of vulnerability and courage can go a long way to establish bonds with those around you that support your vision.
• Affirm that goals are big enough. Fear doesn't often come from staying inside our comfort zone. The fear we feel when embarking on a new challenge is a great reminder that we're stepping out of our comfort zone and pursuing something worthwhile.
Ultimately, we live in a world where fear is inevitable. Life is less about avoiding fear and more about working with it. I believe fear can be a useful tool, and how we respond to it plays a pivotal role in the outcome of our objectives. Success doesn’t come from resisting the negative and scary emotions. Instead, success becomes possible when we confront and embrace our fears, and make a deliberate choice to incorporate them into the creation of our dreams.