How To Transform Your Fears And Start Enjoying A More Inspired Life

A Mind-Made Illusion

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” — Jim Morrison

In his book Influence: Science and Practice, author Robert Cialdini shares a story capturing the life-changing effects of fear. In a tribe in southern Africa, the Thonga people hold an annual initiation for the young boys in the village. A young Thonga boy must endure a series of intense physical challenges before being admitted to adulthood. The three-month ritual comprises six major trials: beatings, exposure to cold, thirst, eating unsavoury foods, punishment and the threat of death. These strange rituals turn a young boy into a man, while silencing his inner demons. Spending three months subjected to mental, emotional, and physical hardship is extreme. However, many of these young boys become strong and powerful leaders in their tribes. Despite the cruelty of the ritual, the story highlights how we can transform our fears from weakness into courage.

In our society, fear impairs the lives of those who buy into its false presence. It was the French philosopher René Descartes who declared: “I think therefore I am.” In other words, the fact I am aware of my thoughts means there’s a thinker behind the thoughts. Similarly, many people unwittingly believe: “If I think fearful thoughts, they must be true.” Yet, fear is only an illusion created by the mind; albeit a persuasive one. A great deal of what we fear rarely eventuates, yet fear predominates our thought landscape. Since fear is a survival instinct, it becomes a threat when our thoughts are stuck in a repetitive cycle. Expressed differently: when fear rules our life, we are at the mercy of the emotion. How about you? What are your fears? How do you respond to them? Do you allow the fear to rule your life or do you still take action despite the fears?

How To Transform Fear

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ” — Nelson Mandela

So, how can we transform our fears so it doesn’t impair our lives? First, appreciate that fear is feedback alerting us to forward progress. It signifies we are stepping out of our comfort zone and moving into uncharted territory. Rather than oppose our fears, we must see it as an opportunity to gain new insights. Second, we ought to embrace fear as part of our natural evolution as a person. Many people see it as a brick wall, while others regard it as an opportunity to overcome it. Fear can inspire us to action, so we mustn’t see it as detrimental. It advises us to avoid what is harmful to our lives and to take affirmative action.

Take for example, the fear of public speaking, widely considered people’s greatest fears. The American comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said: “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” It is apparent from Seinfeld’s observation that fear forces us to brush up on our speaking skills through rehearsal. Rather than being unprepared, fear forces us to show up ready or risk being humiliated in front of an audience. As we overcome fear, we build strength of character and rise above the obstacles towards victory. Therefore, fear is a teacher providing you with the vital experience before the lesson.

Inhabit The Present Moment

“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Since fear is a future occurrence, it allows us to inhabit the present moment when our minds wander. There’s no need to worry or fear the future, since fear prompts us to let go of the incessant thoughts of an expected tomorrow. It must be repeated, we cannot drop fear from our lives, not in the way people believe. We can turn down the volume on fear by not becoming a slave to it. Susan Jeffers’ acclaimed self-help book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, is a suitable axiom for learning to befriend fear. That is, we take inspired action despite our fears and not cower from it. Many people are helpless in the face of their fears, because they buy into the narrative associated with it.

Fear is a sign, calling us to recognise something that needs to be addressed. We must remind ourselves that fear helps us make better decisions considering perceived danger. We must have our wits about us, instead of throwing ourselves unknowingly at a task. To put it differently, our response to fear provides a glimpse into our psyche. Considering this, reflect on your answers to the following questions:

  1. Are you constantly running away from fear or facing it head on?
  2. What are you afraid of?
  3. Who would you be without your fears?
  4. What would life look like?

Try to imagine a world where you are not dictated by your fears. This is the state you want to create if you are to transform your life to be bigger and bolder. Fear is a call towards inner growth and freedom because running away from fear makes it grow in intensity. Approach it with compassion and an open heart by forgiving yourself and others who contributed towards your fears. It might surprise you to know that our fears can be passed down through generations. Wars and hatred stem from the paralysis of fear. We fear what we don’t understand, then we ultimately go to war with it.

Invariably, if we dislike parts of ourselves, this is a call to make peace within. As you know, what we feed and nurture grows stronger. Ultimately, we have a choice: make peace with fear or allow it to control our life. Hopefully, you will be motivated to choose the former. Transcending fear is liberating since it frees us from the self-imposed fortress it creates. Fear cannot dwell inside a heart filled with love. For love is the essence of our authentic nature and fear is nothing more than a shadow cast by the ego to protect us, not serve us.

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