Fear, when harnessed for good, can be the fuel that propels us forward in a way that is effortless and graceful. Focusing on what is "wrong," and turning our fears into a source of negativity, we trap ourselves. We engage in self pity. We look for blame. We procrastinate. These wasted emotions cap off our optimism, sense of freedom, and creativity. The flow ceases and we are left motionless.
Fear is what makes us say "I can't." It's rooted in negative reinforcement that has been passed down by our culture and the people who surround us. It prohibits us from living up to our own potential, which is why it's important to learn how to reverse its power. The best friend of fear is worry. When we allow it to creep in, the snowball effect is immediate, and we are left overwhelmed and engulfed in doubt.
Even the happiest people have down days. When I'm feeling down or am facing a difficult situation, I remind myself to live in and make the most of every moment. It's important to trust the entire experience while keeping a sense of wonder. The best way to stop fear in its tracks is to manage and reduce stress. No stranger to difficult times over the years, I've created a useful list of reminders that have helped me gain a sense of balance and perspective during times of stress:
- Don't be a victim. No matter what horrible things you have endured, you are never truly a victim unless you choose to be.
- Accept you don't have all of the answers. It may take years to understand the purpose of why this happened. Free yourself of it now... one day this will make sense.
- Forgive. Hating yourself or others only drains you of precious energy. Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to forget, but you must let go in order to move forward.
- Be realistic. Some corners we paint ourselves into are a bit trickier than others. What you want to happen or correct may take more time and effort than you would like. Have patience, and continue with the actions necessary to see it through.
- Instead of fearing the worst... fantasize the best. Nothing is possible without visualizing what we want. We must see it and believe it to be true. Simply stated, our thoughts become what is; we create our lives.
- Some days suck, and that is okay. Continue to look for the positive in each day, even if the most positive thing about today is accepting that one flat tire is better than two. The glass is always half full.
- Love. Yourself. Your friends. Your family. If you find yourself around people who don't inspire or support you... love them anyway, and then move on to those who do. Being a positive force will lead you to positive people and experiences.
- You are in control. Accept responsibility for your entire life. You alone are responsible for your happiness.
- Lighten up and keep smiling. Exercise. Dance. Laugh. Find whatever brings you joy and then have some fun. A smile is contagious... it's beautiful... it's free.
- Be grateful... for everything.
You may have a different list or alternate way of dealing with stress, but the point is that we all have the choice to empower ourselves. No matter how far we have allowed ourselves to fall, we are one good thought or action away from completely turning things around. We can't always change what is done or has come undone but, when we surrender, the noose doesn't feel so tight. We notice that we are not as alone as we may have felt. The sun peeks out when we least expect it, and a silver lining is revealed... We are fearless and moving forward, turning our self sabotage into self love.
While genetics may make us prone to a certain level of coping skills, remember that we can change our patterns. Regardless of our origin or upbringing, none of us is confined by what we were taught. We have the ability to be exactly who we want to be.
Fear and failure are states of mind, which are easily replaceable with optimism and intention... On that note, I suddenly feel compelled to don my best Stuart Smalley sweater and step in front of the mirror. Anyone care to join me? :)
"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me!" ~ Stuart Smalley
© Natalie Starnes