This post contains excerpts from Chapter 15 of my book, Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, and Courageous Life.
The definition of fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” I find this definition very helpful because it distinguishes actual threat (which would be true danger of harm) from the belief that something could be dangerous. Anxiety is essentially a repetitive state of fear, a state of awareness focused on what could be fearful. We perpetuate the belief that something could be dangerous, and that arouses a state of anxiety.
Sure, there’s a lot going on in the world that is frightening. Those are global fears, of the bigger picture. But in this modern age, most of the fear that really stops us is more personal. It’s about the unknown in our own lives. We’re driven by fears about doing what we truly want to do with our lives, making a career change, embarking on a new relationship, or submitting a manuscript to a publisher. These kind of fears are associated with taking a risk, with what we cannot control. Yet there is a magic about this kind of fear that you may not realize.
This fear or anxiety about the unknown indicates the onset of power. Something powerful is happening in your life. That’s why you feel fearful. It’s actually calling you to step into your power in a new way. The fear and anxiety are letting you know that you’re not willing to simply settle for how it is or how you’ve been in the past. You know that you want to awaken more deeply or express yourself more fully.
When that begins to happen for you, and you’re getting a taste of what’s possible, sometimes anxiety kicks in. It doesn’t want to leave the zone of the familiar – that’s unknown territory! And we believe that the unknown is dangerous, because we can’t control it.
One small way to shift our experience of fear and increase the amount of time every day that we feel good is to change our perspective about fear and anxiety. By looking at it as a harbinger of empowerment, you can redefine it.
There are many acronyms for fear that help us change our perspective about it, but one that recently came by me has been credited to Neale Donald Walsh, author of Conversations with God. He says that when we feel fear or anxiety, we can redefine it as feeling excited and ready. If you think about it, this is true. Fear and Excitement have almost the exact same physiological response. This readies our body for whatever is required of it, such as the need to run or fight.
Let yourself feel excited and ready, and open to the positive possibilities that could lie ahead of you. Fear wouldn’t arise if something powerful, transformative, healing, and awakening wasn’t on the horizon.
Now that you have considered that the fear is here to empower you, and you have a way of reframing it, it’s time to contemplate taking an empowering action. You may not yet have a sense of an empowering action to take in response to your excitement (i.e., fear) about what lies ahead of you. But if you do, it’s time to consider stepping out into that new way of being.
Start small. You could stand in a yoga pose that increases your sense of strength and energy, like Warrior pose or Mountain Pose, and feel the power arise in you. You could roar like a lion or howl like a wolf. Write down empowering words and affirmations. Walk around your home as if you were embodying that newly-found power.
Then, reflect on what small actions you could take in your life that would support your desires. You don’t have to make a huge leap – break it down into little steps, and move towards your vision gradually. You can even ask your fear to give you guidance on how to overcome it. The fear arose to bring about your empowerment.
What little step are you willing and able to take into your empowered action? What small change can you implement? What quality would you like to put into practice? What is the first part of the adventure you’d like to embark upon? You’re now ready to not only release your fear anxiety, but to experience confident, joyful living and inner peace.
Read more of Chapter 15, and the whole journey of overcoming fear and anxiety – order your copy of Awakening from Anxiety today!
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