Before doing the work of releasing fear, let’s consider for a moment what fear offers.
Fear works diligently at all times, down to immediately adjusting the entire body’s system in preparation to fight or flee from any perceived threat. In some cases, fear can save your life and because of this, it is indeed a wonderful friend to have.
While fear is such a wonderful friend, it can also be overly industrious and oftentimes irrational.
It will shout alarms when no alarm is needed, such as in the case of public speaking or asking for a promotion at work. In fact, just thinking about fear may set off a chain reaction of apprehension throughout your system. If you are particularly mindful, you might realize that your heart rate is increasing, your shoulders are becoming tighter, or that you have increased feelings of anxiety due to a surge of adrenaline that creates chemical chaos rampaging through your body.
Despite the discomfort, the heart of fear is the very desire to assure your survival.
In that sense, fear deserves to be embraced and treated with respect and gratitude, even when it is unfounded. It may sound contradictory to consider sitting mindfully with your fear in order to begin releasing it. That behavior goes against the natural inclination of your body’s immediate reaction when fear shows up for a visit. At the same time, knowing that fear is your good friend, you can approach it from a more mindful response. This response will allow you to discover its message and begin effectively to release it.
Here is the most important question to ask: Am I in physical danger?
If so, follow fear’s instructions implicitly. For example, if you feel fear about touching a hot stove, chances are high that you should honor this fear and avoid the risk of being burned. If you find that you are not in physical danger, then there is no need to react, even if your compulsions are telling you otherwise. Instead, this is the time to sit with the fear, if only for a moment. It helps if you can tell yourself,“I have feelings of fear, yet I am safe.” At that point, you can consciously relax by becoming present with your breathing.
As you relax with your breathing, you can begin to set affirmations for yourself, such as “I accept feelings of fear as a symbol of my self-love.”
This intention alone can begin to calm your system and allow you to consider that fear is your ally and not your foe. This will allow you to explore your trepidation and begin to take steps toward whatever it is that fear is attempting to hold you back from.
As you accept your fear and begin to relax into it, you can persist toward your desired goal, despite the discomfort fear brings, knowing that you will be safe.
This may require taking small steps toward a larger goal. It also helps to remind yourself that even if you experience discomfort, such as being rejected, embarrassed or humiliated, you will survive. This practice will build resilience and allow you to practice mindful acceptance of even the most uncomfortable feelings. As this happens, you will notice that you become free. This freedom will be caused due to learning the lesson that releasing fear is a skill that first demands that you embrace it.