Fear is a shadow cast by your own hand. It’s time to turn the light on (how to dissolve your fears)
We all have core fears but we make them monsters when they are only dogs trying to protect us. Our fears grow because we announce them. Like rumors they become exaggerated stories we tell ourselves but the actual fear itself is not what we make it. We blow shit up. And become prisoners to rumors instead of truth.
Here are some fear shadows we live in that make us hide and prevent us from being all we can be.
It’s time to turn the light on.
Fear of failure
First, define success. For me, success used to be things outside of self, the house, the car, the beautiful wife, the picket fence, the deal, the company, the empire.
I still want all these things. But I do not define them to be success. They are the by product of success, not success itself. Today my definition of success is a sense of purpose, peace, liking myself, real authentic relationships, the ability to be present, connection with my body, living in a higher state, making a dent, helping others, being able to express my creativity, gratitude, love, and living a meaningful life.
I have / do these things today and most likely you do to. So I am successful according to my defintion. Or more accurately, successfilled. Success isn’t what you have achieved. It’s being on the path of who you are becoming. This definition brings the power back to you. If you define success as what you achieve, it’s always going to be contigent things outside of self. This makes us powerless. Our happy then is contigent. Also, what you have will always flucutate. You will have a lot. Then lose a lot. Then have again. That’s the flow of life. If that’s how you define success, you will be on an uncontrollable train and your happy will be doing crazy kite circles.
If you have freedom in your life and you’re living a meaningful life, you are successful. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow in the world we live in. But if you don’t redefine success, you will always be afraid of not having it because when you become “successful”, that won’t be success to you. Your definition of success will change to wanting more, bigger, because success is scaled due to ego and capitalism. Nothing will ever be enough. Success then becomes a trap.
If you no longer want to live with fear of failure, you MUST redefine what success looks like.
But here’s the thing. I believe as we shift success from external to internal (living inside out instead of outside in), we will maneuver at a higher potential and end up becoming “successful” by our old or commerial definition.
Fear of love
Another big one. Coaching people with their relationships over the years have made me see first hand how common this fear is and how it cripples us from fully loving. First, you’re not afraid of love. You’re afraid to love. We’ve all been hurt, cheated on, abandoned. Everyone’s heart has been shattered at some point. For most, many times. We trust less because of these experiences. We live with more self doubt because we’ve mistaken someone else’s dysfunction for our own worth and value. We have become afraid and love becomes a hot stove we no longer want to touch. A monster.
You’re going to want to punch me in the face but love is not just butterflies and warm milk. Love is alcohol. Love is fire. Love is crazy. Love is unpredictable. Love is messy. And our hearts were meant to be broken, over and over. It’s what stretches it and makes us love harder. Assuming you don’t allow your fear to stop you. Think about all the things you’ve learned from those love expereinces. Yes, they were painful. For some, dehibilating. They’ve fucked us up. I get it. I’ve been there. But what did you learn about yourself, others, relationships, life, and love, from those experiences? What did those expirations force you to do or more importantly become?
I look back at all the relationships I’ve been in, and think about twho I was going in and who I became coming out. There was growth with every single expiration. I learned something about myself every time. But more importantly, those experiences has formed me, gave me ….
And that’s the reframe.
Love doesn’t break us.
It forces us to become.
Break ups are some of the richest soil for growth. We don’t learn and grow when we’re comfortable. So love is meant to hurt, to shake us, sometimes break us. But we bounce back, with more knowledge, revelations, which makes us grow and repositions us.
Love is not just about relationships. Love is about you expanding. It’s a way of being. You are love. You are love. You. Are. Love. By allowing yourself to be afraid to love, you are dimming yourself. You are not allowing yourself to be you and share all that is you with the world.
Instead of seeing love as something you are giving to someone (this sparks fear), see love as a way of being. When you believe you are love, there is no option to be afraid.
That’s great in theory but how do you dissolve your fear in real life?
Like your fear of sharks. You get into a cage and swim with them. Until you realize they’re more afraid of you than you are them.
It’s a daily choice, to love. Yourself. Others. Your husband. Your wife. Your partner. To be aware of your fears and push past them, knowing there is possible risk and hurt.
Because what’s the alternative? Love is life so if you don’t love, you are not living.
Fear of being homeless / on the streets
Money is a real thing. I’ve always just gotten by. I have student debt, credit cards, and wonder if I will never have financial security. But one thing I’ve learned is that no matter how difficult things get, things always work out. Bills get paid. Money comes and money goes. It’s like having kids. You find a way. And you have to trust that.
Fear of not being able to pay our rent and becoming homeless is a common lie we inject ourselves with that has no basis. We think because we don’t currently have a job or we’re out of work or going through a transition, we will soon be on the streets. That is a huge jump to conclusions based on your fears. Not truth.
This is a fear induced by panic. Well, most of our fears are. And we feed it by jumping to conclusions (a cognitive distortion). Feelings are not facts. Just because it feels like the sky is falling, it doesn’t mean it is.
Dissolve your fear by looking at the facts. Play shit out. How much is actually left in your account? What’s your fall back job, even if it’s temporary? Write down all your options and you’ll see that you have more than what’s in the front of your brain. You have tools. You have abilities. And if you were homeless once, what did you learn from it? Are you a different person now? Do you have more support and different beliefs about yourself.
You’ve always found a way before. Why would it be any different now?
The sun will rise tomorrow.
And you will find your way.
Fear of what others think of you
We will always care what others think. I don’t think it’s possible to not care. But there’s a difference between caring what others think and being concerned with what others think. Being concerned takes energy and action. You are changing something about you because you want others to like and accept you.
First, what does it mean if they don’t? What does it mean if your friend, family, partner, co-worker don’t agree with your truth? Will they leave you? Will you get fired? Will your parents disown you? Will your friends no longer be your friends?
Yes? Okay, then what does that mean? To me, if my friends don’t accept me for me, they are not my friends. They are stunting my growth. So it’s between your growth and being around people who keep you watered down. And I know you know that. And it’s easier said than done, since we love our friends and have history with them. But at the end of the day, you can’t negotiate your truth or who you are. Not for you. For us, since the gifts you are meant to share in this world lives in your truth.
What does it mean if your family doesn’t accept you?
My parents told me they’d “disown” me if I ever bought a motorcycle or got tattoos. After my divorce, I bought a motorcycle and got tattoos. Yes, there was some push back but guess what? They are still my parents and we eat breakfast every two weeks. They got over it. Family will accept you. And if they don’t, that’s not your problem. That’s theirs.
What does it mean if your boss / co-workers don’t accept you?
You’re at the wrong job. Period.
Another quick story.
Early in my therapist journey, I worked at a fancy eating disorder treatment center. They had me running groups. I wanted to do some different things instead of the same generic group exercises from the interventions folder. So I brought movies and wanted to play with cinema therapy, using movie scenes as interventions to create a dialogue and process. They didn’t want me to do that. I had this new non-negotiable that I couldn’t work in a place where my voice was muted. I was contemplating on quitting when they beat me to it and fired me. It was a blessing because it forced me to focus on my own brand and working in a way that is honest to me. It repositioned me to the path I was meant to go on.
Many conform because they are afraid of what their boss / co-workers think and end up turning into a cardboard cut out version of themselves.
This fear is fueled by ego. You have something to prove. That you’re cool, attractive, smart, hip, funny, lovable, talented. That you matter.
Seeking approval and validation is also a way of coping. Because it keeps you from truly looking at yourself. Instead you hide to fit in, to become invisible. That way you don’t have to work on you. You just have to be nice.
What others think about you is none of your business.
That’s the mindset. Your fear will fade if you get rid of the fuel — ego. Instead, know what’s at stake. No, it’s not less friends, angry and disappointed parents, and a job that limits your potential.
It’s your dent in the world.
Fear is a real thing but we turn our fears into monsters.
It’s time to turn the lights on by leaning into our fears instead of allowing them to dim our shine.