Facing your fears

Posted by Karen in Personal Development

Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith 

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Fear is a constant companion for so many of us. Fear of the unknown, fear of taking a risk, fear of conflict, fear of failure, fear of our own potential, fear of change. 

Fear, in itself, is not a bad thing. The innate intention of fear is always positive, helping to protect us from danger and threats. Indeed, fear is part of our human experience just like joy, anger, sadness, contentment. 

When fear holds you back 

However, sometimes fear and anxiety can cloud our judgements, making it harder for us to keep perspective; to distinguish between when something is real and happening or has not happened yet (or indeed is very unlikely to happen).  

Fear and anxiety can lead us to buy into catastrophic thoughts which can hold us back from living and experiencing life fully. 

Taking a leap of faith 

As you may have read in my March blog (Taking time out), I have just begun a 3-month mindfulness and meditation retreat in the Spanish mountains, south-west of Barcelona  (my colleague Claire is publishing my blogs and keeping things ticking over whilst I’m away).   

For me to be on this retreat, I had to face my fear of letting go of my work for three months. I had to push myself to take a leap of faith. 

For quite some time, I believed my nagging fear that said: “If you leave your business for 3-months you’ll lose everything you’ve worked so hard to create.”  

This catastrophic thought triggered huge levels of anxiety – racing heart, tight chest, foggy mind. These feelings in turn triggered yet more thoughts such as: “I can’t do it, I will lose everything, I will be in the street, I will never find work again”. 

At the end of this blog I share some tips which may help you to take your leap of faith, just like I did.  

Bring awareness to what you are thinking, experiencing  

Catastrophic thoughts like losing a job, a loved one leaving us, conflict with a colleague, performing badly at work, falling ill, trigger our brain’s alarm system, preparing us to defend ourselves. The heart rate builds, palms become sweaty, and we’re on high alert, ready to fight, flight or freeze. 

When I brought awareness to my thoughts, I was able to ask myself: “Is it really true that I will lose everything?” Is it really true that I will be in the street and not find work again?” The answer was clear: “No, of course it’s not true.”  

What followed was a sense of relief and a change in perspective. I felt grounded once again and able to think things through, make a realistic plan and all the necessary preparations, giving me the confidence I needed to leave my business and attend the retreat – a dream I’ve held dear for some time.  

Are your fears keeping you safe or holding you back? 

We are often unaware of our fearful thoughts, they run in the background, ‘keeping us safe’, keeping us in our comfort zone and sometimes holding us back from engaging more fully in life. 

Here are some tips for taking a leap of faith: 

Taking a leap of faith is not a knee-jerk reaction. It is a response to a life challenge, to an opportunity if we can see it.  
Give yourself enough time to see possibilities and opportunities. You will find that when you make some time and space to be, reflect and think, possibilities and choices come to you. They literally find us. I highly recommend going on a walk in your local park or to sit quietly on the sofa with a cup of tea or coffee, take a bath and let your thoughts flow. 
 Talk things through with supportive friends.  
Those friends who know you well – your strengths and passions and who can see your potential, what you are capable of; who are able to tell you that you can do it, who are able to offer those essential words of encouragement. 
Remember: Life is an exploration. If we don’t try, we don’t know. When we try, we know and we can move on.  
It helped me to imagine my life and what it would be like if I didn’t take this leap of faith, this opportunity to go on a spiritual journey. Life felt dull, like a routine; like an opportunity missed. I felt that I owed it to myself. 
Think through the worst and best case scenario   

Often the worst case isn’t nearly as catastrophic or bad as you had imagined. This was certainly the case for me. In the contrary, it helped me feel confident about myself and my work. It made me see how much I had achieved and that it was highly unlikely that it was going to disappear. Of course, we never know anything for sure. It’s also about learning how to trust the great mystery that is life – that good things can and do happen all the time.  
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite, most inspirational quotes: 

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.   

I have a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”  W.H. Murray 

While I am away, my colleague Claire Martin is looking after any inquiries and bookings – we’d love to hear from you.  

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