"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
Do you have any irrational fears or phobias? For example, fear of flying, heights, or confined spaces? I discovered the power of facing my own fear while facilitating a workshop at The Crossing in Austin, Texas, a few years back. The emotional focus of the weekend was overcoming fear and manifesting the future. We dedicated an entire afternoon to "fear-transcending." Using the power of trapeze-ing, our aim was to inspire the group to abandon fear and fly higher than they thought they could. Turns out it was actually higher than I ever thought I could, because up until that weekend, I had an excruciating fear of heights myself.
Yes, even though I am an expert at transforming fear into freedom, I too have fears. I have to catch myself in those fearful moments and ask myself, as I am going to ask you: Why do we have fear? How can we harness it? How do we learn from it and NOT let it drive the bus of our lives?
Fear is a normal human emotion that was an important tool for survival centuries ago. However, in our current civilization, it is unlikely that a lion will be attacking you in Central Park. So why is fear still so prevalent in our lives? Yes, it can be a scary world. Yes, facing health, wealth, and life challenges can be fear-inducing. But how you react to these things can be a choice -- whether you know it or not.
The real deal is that fear begins in our minds. Many of our fears are ingrained in us from childhood, taught to us by our parents and caregivers. They taught us "the way it is," and that became our minds' blueprint. Ask yourself, how did your family of origin handle fear? Were they doom-and-gloom, constantly projecting into the future all of the terrible things that might happen? Did your parents teach you to fear taking risks? What was in their problem-solving tool belts? Were they reactors? Deniers? Talkers? How safe did you feel in your home? All of these factors contribute to how well you manage your fear today.
As Marianne Williamson says, "Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learned here."
Once you have taken the time to think about the fear culture in your childhood home, you can start to redraw the mind's blueprint into something that fits your ideal. Ask yourself the above questions and journal about your answers. Process these memories and experiences and allow yourself to really feel them. Understanding your current fear blueprint is the beginning of reducing its power to dictate action in your life.
When you find yourself in a situation that is kicking up fear, remember that fear is a feeling, not a fact. You must acknowledge your fear in order to control it. When we run away from our fears, they become amplified. The reality is usually never as bad as the fear fantasy. Do not allow yourself to focus on the worst-case scenario, giving it the power of your emotions. If fear is what you hold in your mind most and longest, it becomes a wish or a prayer, even if that is not your intention.
Use the power of positive manifesting and creative visualization to calm your mind and fears. Use positive self-talk, journaling, and meditating to wrangle what scares you most. Create a deliberate conscious reaction to fear-inducing thoughts and situations.
Also remember, fear has much to teach us about ourselves. Figure out what that jewel is before you kick the fear to the curb.
It was exhilarating to witness so many participants that weekend in Austin just throwing down their fear. My own smackdown happened while I was climbing up the ladder to the trapeze landing. I had not told anyone about my fear, as it was ego-dystonic for me -- meaning, it did not fit my image of myself as a butt-kicking warrior goddess, and therefore I was ashamed of it. The Herculean strength it took for me to keep climbing was mind-blowing. Normally, I am counter phobic -- purposely doing things I fear so they do not own me. But the fear of heights is a phobia whose origin I still cannot trace (and trust me, in 20 years of therapy, I have looked). This experience taught me that my mind is stronger than my fear. As soon as I hopped off the landing and was sailing through the air with the greatest of ease, the fear vanished. I was amazed and ridiculously proud. I felt reinvigorated around other challenges in my life. It is not about being fearless; it is about letting fear propel you toward your goal instead of stopping you in your tracks.
I celebrate kicking the crap out of my fear of heights with an annual trapeze day to remind myself that when I leap, the net will appear.
You will be amazed what shifts in your life when you acknowledge and face your fears on purpose. You deserve to live your life Fearless and Free! So get to it!
Love Love Love,
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