08 Mar How to Face the Fear: My Process
I may have a slight addiction to learning and may be enrolled in a ridiculous number of online courses. But there are worse problems to have, right? Yeah, like fears that are destroying your life. You know, the thing you’re here to talk about? Uh, getting there. Excuse my Inner Self, she doesn’t know when to shut up sometimes. Or ever.
Anyway, several are writing related and one talks about the inner transformation of a character. The instructor, Jeff Gerke, spoke about bringing the character to a “Moment of Truth” (Hero’s Journey by any other name would smell so- never mind) and offered this bit of wisdom, “People will not change until it hurts too much to stay the same.” Fictional or flesh and blood, our inner transformations rarely occur without pain. We come to that Moment of Truth and we must decide to face the fear, face the past, face the trauma, face the abuse- face ourselves. And when we do, when we decide hell no, we’re not letting fear win, we need to know how. How do we deal with fears that have haunted us for years? How do we face nightmares that have kept us trapped in our own minds?
I needed to know so I started researching and reading and discovering what resonates with my soul. I’m in process, and I’m sharing in process. What helps me may or may not help you. There are multiple answers out there, multiple methods that have helped multiple people, and I recommend digging in until you find the ones that do.
How To Face the Fear: My Process
1. Moment of Truth– Actively choose not to be a victim of your fear anymore. Look hard at yourself and face your own shadow.
- How has this fear affected you and those you love? You may be surprised at the damage done. Offer apologies and repair if needed. Be patient, they may need time to see the change in you.
- Where did this fear originate? If you haven’t dealt with the original trauma, you may need to do some work here. (I’m tweaking “love letter” therapy from an old marriage book, see Feeling Letters.)
2. Facts & Interpretations– Take ownership of what’s Fact and what’s Interpretation.
This was tucked away at the very end [45:30] of the YouTube video, Do You Want to Be a Victim or Get Empowered? by Alexi & Preston. A lot of what we think of as fact is actually bias and interpretation. They encourage us to determine what is fact and what is interpretation, and ask ourselves these tough questions. Then we can move from victim to empowered.
- What are the facts without making it mean anything?
- How am I interpreting those facts, what meaning does it have for me?
- What’s the feeling I’m looking for under this meaning? Attention? Love? Worthiness? Assurance?
- What is this feeling associated with? What is my earliest memory of searching for this feeling?
Alexi shared her own story of being raped and used this as an example of working through Fact vs. Interpretation. It’s a Fact that the abuse occurred and that she was a victim to what occurred. The Interpretation is the meaning she gives it now in the present. She can choose to believe it means she’ll never be safe, or she’s damaged goods, or attracts bad things, or all men are dangerous predators. She chooses her victim consciousness or empowerment.
They talked about how often people hold onto their victim Fact and bring it into their present. Why do we do that? What do we get out of it? Attention? Love? Rescuing? Our culture can program us to believe that we receive the most love when we’re in pain, and we may hold onto our victim consciousness for fear of losing love.
But we don’t have to remain in that victim consciousness, we can choose to use the victim Fact for empowerment. What good may have come of it? Recognizing and expanding on good that came out of an evil experience (like rape) does not make the experience good. The neutral fact is that experiences like that are bad. Empowerment is turning your victim-hood upside down and finding meaning that can propel you to make something good out of it (for instance, Alexi’s work encouraging others to choose empowerment).
And I love this quote, “The context determines the content. How you show up in the world determines what shows up in your world.” I allowed fear to control me to the point that it became my reality. The core of who I am, the peace, love, and happiness chick, that’s how I need to show up in the world if that’s what I want to show up in my world. I must be driven by love rather than fear if I want love to be my reality.
3. Flip the Fear- Figure out what it is that you fear most and then flip it to the most positive outcome and turn it into a goal.
This is an amazing bit of advice and I discovered it in a helpful post, How to Face Your Fears. It’s well worth reading as a whole, but this gem has literally changed my life by changing my mindset.
- What fear controls you?
- Let’s use abandonment as the example. If you fear abandonment, you create an unconscious fear driven goal to avoid being abandoned. This could mean you isolate yourself so there’s never a possibility of being abandoned or it could mean you attempt to control every situation and your loved ones or you cling too tightly or you’re suspicious and jealous anytime they’re away from you.
- You don’t want to be abandoned. The thought makes your stomach hurt and your throat grow tight and may bring up childhood memories you wish you could forget. Every time you focus on fighting that fear, you feel the pain in your body and your soul. It’s exhausting and it’s killing you slowly. All your energy is spent trying to stop something from happening and is focused on the negative. So, let’s flip that fear.
- You know what you don’t want, but what do you want?
- You want a strong, healthy, loving relationship.
- What can you do right now to work toward that goal?
- Come up with the first one or two steps, don’t become overwhelmed with a five stage color coded plan or some other craziness. When those are going well, come up with the next step.
Use your energy to work toward a positive goal rather than fight against the negative fear goal. When the fear shows up demanding attention, and it will, turn your thoughts toward the positive goal. Actively work toward that goal and the power of the fear will lessen.
Just flip it. Flip it real good. (Yeah, I know.)
4. Choose Love Over Fear- We have a choice to love ourselves and others more than we fear what might happen. I’m not into the “Choose Happiness” thing because sometimes we just can’t choose to feel happy. But we can choose to focus on the positive, and we can choose to be grateful, and we can choose love. The feelings may come and go but we can always choose love over our fear.
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” ~ Brené Brown
Don’t shy away from your Moment of Truth, make the decision to face your fears. Figure out what the Facts are around the fears and what the Interpretations are, the meaning you’ve given them and why. Look for any good that may have come from it and choose empowerment over continuing to be a victim. Flip the fear into a positive goal and work towards that goal. Choose love over fear. Always.