Facing Fear is a Victory for Your Soul

Facing Your FearsFace your Fear – live a bigger life.

Rule of thumb: the more important the call or action is to our own soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” Steven Pressfield

My heart was pounding, my mouth and throat were dry and adrenaline was pumping throughout my body.  We were saying goodbye to a couple we had just met as we backpacked in the desert.

Go to the edge of what scares you that's where you'll find gold. Click To Tweet

Although we were heading into the Grand Escalante Staircase to backpack in Coyote Gulch for five days into slot canyons and sacred Anasazi ground, my friend had just given that couple all of our water.

They were in a panic when we met them on the trail, because they didn’t bring enough water on their day hike.  Now we had no water.

As it grew dark, we quickly put up our tent and set out walking in Coyote Gulch to find water.  I was terrified.

Not only was this unfamiliar territory to me, I was concerned my friend wouldn’t know where we were going and we’d get lost.

As we hiked, I spent a lot of time talking to God, and getting more and more frightened and stressed.

That night ended well — the good news was that my friend had been in this canyon and knew exactly where to find water.

Later that evening, I got down on my knees in the tent after a dinner of pasta with clam sauce and white wine, and I told God I would serve if I could weather this fear.

My daily mantra became “I am brave.”

For the five days of our hike, I repeated that mantra over and over in my mind.  My friend would say, “You are really brave” and he meant it.

It took a great deal of courage for me to attempt this trip, because it was out of my comfort zone.  And yet it’s fascinating that this trip comes to mind when I recall my favorite adventures in life.

I deeply lived that night, and we had a big adventure.  But best of all, I learned the meaning of getting quiet inside.

What I learned was this:

It’s the places that scare us the most that become the most memorable experiences in life. Click To Tweet

These places become markers of courage and by stepping into the fear and walking through the fire, you gain self-confidence and self-trust.

Go straight into what scares you – that’s your gold.

YOUR INNER LIZARD

The reptilian brain is our limbic system or as Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight states, “the emotional brain.”

Its purpose is to broadcast survival fears, which keep all mammals alive in the wild.  However, once our basic survival needs are taken cared for, our inner lizard continues to pump out “lack and attack” fears.

When we experience feelings of sadness, joy, anger, frustration, or excitement, these emotions are generated by our limbic system.

On the one hand, our reptilian brains are convinced that we lack everything we need: We don’t have enough love, time, money, or [fill in the blank].

On the other hand, something terrible is about to happen. You’ve heard the phrase “the other shoe is about to drop,” or “this can’t last” or “now that I have this good thing, something bad will happen.”

Our reptilian brain served us well when we lived in caves and were hunters and gatherers.

But when we wake up at night worrying about the job market, the economy, the Axis of Evil or Code Orange, this doesn’t serve us.

The solution? Become the watcher of your thoughts and notice those that smack of lack and attack.

The reptilian brain is hardwired around our brain stem, broadcasting fear impulses, but when you are in charge of your mind, you know that you don’t have to listen it.

YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS

Get to know the voice of fear in your head. This voice makes us feel anxious and fearful, which blocks our creativity and problem-solving abilities.

You can separate yourself from this lizard voice.

Ask it, “Are you here to help me or hold me back?”

This is the voice that is trying to help you avoid shame, risk, and rejection.  Welcome it in for tea.  Don’t try to push it away – what you resist, persists.  But don’t act on it.

When you become the observer of your fearful voice, you lessen its power to unconsciously drive your behavior.

It takes 90 seconds for us to think a thought and send the physiological effects throughout our body.

Where the mind goes, the body follows.

Do you REALLY want to think that thought again?

WAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

You have the choice to become conscious, and wake up and notice what you’re thinking.

When you notice you’re feeling fear — stop and observe the thought and just let it be.

You can’t stop a thought; just notice and breathe and let it pass. Then shift to a better feeling thought.

The more you fear doing a particular job, such as starting your own business or writing your next book, the more you can be sure that this is your soul’s calling.

I like to think of this as a tug-of-war between the ego and the soul.

To paraphrase Carl Jung, every death of the ego is a victory for your soul.

So, this is your stretch goal. This is how self-confidence is built. The more fear stops you or keeps you stuck – the more you need to do it.

Ask yourself, “When I’m 80, will I regret that I did NOT do this?

The more impossible you fear it will be to do [fill in the blank with something you really want to do], the more important it is for your soul’s evolution that you do it.

Your soul is calling you to move towards that thing that you dream about. Click To Tweet

Commit to doing what you love even though it scares the hell out of you.

Fear stops you from living up to our full potential and living a big life. When you live in fear, you’re living a small life, hiding out, and you don’t take risks.

How to manage your fears:

  1. Notice your fear. This is the first step. Acknowledge the fear. We all have fears – we’re wired for it. When you feel anxiety or the rush of adrenaline, just stop, notice and breathe. Whether it’s imagined or real, the first step in overcoming fear is to admit that it exists.
  2. When you feel fear, ask yourself, is this fear real or am I imagining it? Am I watching a mind-movie in the future? What am I thinking about?  Don’t try to push it away. As you just notice your fearful voice, you will lessen its power to unconsciously drive your behavior.
  3. Expand your comfort zone. As we grow up, we absorb some of the fears of those around us. We form a mental zone that we call our comfort zone. This is our safe zone where we feel secure to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Start small and as you gain more confidence, you will expand your comfort zone.  Go to the edge of any dream that scares you – that’s where you are being called for your soul’s evolution.

Here’s what I suggest:

  • If you’re excited and you feel fear, do it.
  • If you would love to do it but feel afraid, do it.
  • If you want to take to safe route, take the uncertain route.

This is how you grow, gain confidence and add a notch in your experience belt. Notice every time you make a choice to do something – especially something meaningful – are you choosing a safe choice?

  1. Fear grows when you resist it. What you resist persists. We tend to ignore things we’re afraid of or resist anything that feels uncomfortable. Let’s say that money is an issue for you and you don’t want to look at your bills so you put them in a drawer without opening them. Or you’re afraid to look at your bank balance. Ignoring money or bills won’t make them go away; in fact it can become a bigger problem in your mind.
  2. Analyze it and ask yourself these questions: Where does your fear come from? Is it real or imagined? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Can I deal with it or overcome it? Most of the time, the worst scenario is not as bad as we feared. In fact, talking it through with a friend lessens the affect of fear.
  3. Face it. Allow yourself to feel fear in your body. Act in spite of your fear and treat is as a challenge to grow and become stronger.
  4. Be persistent. Do the thing you fear over and over again. By doing it repeatedly it loses its power over you and you become less vulnerable to it. You actually desensitize the fear this way.
  5. Develop courage. This is how I have become more courageous in my life: I have noticed what helps me to feel courageous, and that is to take risks. I ask myself, what will I lose by doing this? In order to conquer a particular fear, you want to cultivate courage. When you become courageous, you develop self-trust and build self-confidence. This is the healthy way to approach fear.

The psychological condition of fear is separated from real immediate danger. The images in your mind about the future tends to create the emotions of unease, worry, anxiety, tension, stress or phobias.

Coping with the present moment is much easier than coping with an uncertain future.

The mind wants to deny the present moment or the “Now” and to escape from it. You’re in the here and now, while your mind is in the future.

The more you’re able to step into the present and accept the Now, the less you will suffer.

Realize the present moment is all you ever have.

What I know for sure is this: When I conquered the fears of the experiences I feared the most, I… Click To Tweet

And these are the experiences that are my favorite ones to remember.

My backpacking adventure in the Escalante Canyon’s will rank as a peak experience for me.  Taking the risk of hiking into the canyons helped me turn my fear into a quest for courage.

On our last day in the canyon, I jumped for joy inside when we met a couple that were heading out of the canyon. They offered to give us a ride back to our car.

They were taking a short cut out and it entailed climbing up a steep rock outcropping wearing our backpacks.  I was so excited to finish this trip and inside so proud of myself, that I scrambled up the sloping rock wall wearing my backpack without fear.

The wife however was extremely afraid to go up.  So I climbed back down and put on her pack, and guided her back up.  That day – I had no fear – only exhilaration.

When we reached out car, my friend had two cold beers on ice.  Beer never tasted this good – ever!  This trip will be with me the rest of my life.

“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.”   Dalai Lama

Related Posts:

How to Face Your Worst Fears

Seth Godin + Your Inner Lizard & Fear

  1. Excellent post, Sherold! Your wisdom is so solid as you so eloquently repeat it in many different stories and perspectives….this really helps to digest the lessons more fully each time I hear or read them.
    Deep gratitude to you!

    1. Denise thank you for reading and commenting here. I enjoyed writing this blog (a chapter in my upcoming digital manifesto). So appreciate you and watching your growth. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Felicia – I am so happy it came at the right time! I loved writing this post and thinking about this trip -as I said, it’s an all time favorite memory. No – go big and bust through the fear.

  2. Sherold – this is fabulous! It brought tears and joy. I love the part where you carried the wife’s backpack! Talk about full circle. This is an inspiration. Thanks so much!
    Jean

    1. Jean – this makes me feel so happy that you like my writing (sounds like Sally Fields doesn’t it?) I am enjoying writing and this is a chapter in my digital manifesto that will have 10 chapters and will be finished by June. I’m giving it away free! Thanks again for the connection to you.

  3. If you want to take to safe route, take the uncertain route. – perfectly stated. great post and so in alignment with you soul sister, we need more messages like this and so happy to share this space with you. uncertainty is fuel for transformation. xo

    1. Hillary – I’m so happy to have you over here! Another good one – if you see the path ahead – you are on the wrong path. In other words – trust your intuition and body to led you there;) Thanks!

  4. Great and inspiring post, Sherold. I love the Dalai Lama quote at the end. Wow, he says not to worry, bottom line. Imagine if we all could do that. To just be in the moment, breathe, and be aware of our thoughts and taking care of our inner landscape while we go through each day. Thanks for reminding us to face our fear and celebrate our courage to break on through to the other side.
    xo

    1. Maura – Thank you so much for reading my post. Your comments reminds me today to be in the place of no-worry again. It is a practice just like putting one foot in front of the other. Today I will practice. Thank you for being here and sharing my space. Love to you.

  5. Hi Sherold,

    I am a journalist who is wrapping up a big feature story about trying to overcome my fear of exposure in the mountains. When I say “wrapping up,” I mean that the final draft is due tomorrow, March 20. But I am JUST now seeing your website and work and I have a couple of questions I am dying to ask you. Is there any way you might find time to speak with me, either this evening or tomorrow morning? If so, my number is 303-956-4238, and my name is Tracy. Thank you so much in advance, fingers crossed.

    1. Hey Tracy – call me – 541-954-6116. Your mailbox is full. I’m delighted to help you!

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