Fear has always been a part of my life and I know I’m not alone. There are references to it everywhere from kids movies (think Frozen and Small Foot) to interviews with the most accomplished people in the world (think Richard Branson and Sheryl Sandberg).
Fear is part of the human experience. Overcoming fear is perhaps one of our biggest life challenges.
My relationship with fear started as a child of six on the stage at concerts and competitions. The fear of forgetting or messing up my dance or drama performance and making a fool of myself. Over time and with practice my feelings of fear dissipated, though never disappeared.
As an adult I came to realise that fear was still a big part of my life when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. To paraphrase Gilbert, fear wants to keep us safe and small.
I realised fear was the reason I hadn’t started a blog, even though I’ve always loved writing. The fear of what others might think of my thoughts, opinions and writing was stopping me from hitting publish. When I thought of all the mums I could possibly help by sharing my insights and learnings I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to start.
Rather than focusing on fear though I’ve found it more helpful to focus on the opposite so as not to give more energy to fear. What we focus on grows.
So what’s the opposite of fear?
According to Frozen (spoiler alert, look away NOW if you haven’t seen it yet) the answer is true love.
Don’t worry I won’t spoil Small Foot for you – chances are you haven’t seen it yet.
I expect others might say courage and confidence when asked the same question.
When I asked my amazing Facebook followers they gave me so many answers, even some I wasn’t expecting:
For me the answer is trust. Which has taken me a long time to learn. To me trust seems quite passive which isn’t easy for an action focused overachiever.
All of these answers are ‘right’.
Maybe everyone needs a different and unique combination of the above.
Maybe your answer will be different at different times of your life.
Maybe our life’s purpose is to find out what our own unique opposite of fear is. Our antidote or our super powers if you like.
On reflection, so much of my action and inaction was driven by fear. Although I have no regrets, trying to overcome fear with action was like pushing a boulder up a mountain. It’s hard work. It’s exhausting and doesn’t feel that great. Action also doesn’t make fear go away.
Instead I’m trying something new. Letting my action and inaction be driven by trust and a deep knowing that I won’t miss out on opportunities that are meant for me.
Stories of people who have more than one chance at a relationship or career move remind me to trust the timing of my life.
Four years ago I applied for what I thought at the time was my next big career move. I didn’t even get an interview. Three years later I was offered the same role in an informal process.
Four years earlier it wasn’t the right move for me. I was contemplating a second baby and doing fertility treatment and the experiences I gained in those three years prepared me for my next role in ways I’m only starting to realise and appreciate. Three years later was the right time for me.
So how do you learn to trust and let go?
- Awareness – being aware of when you’re engaging in fear based decision making and actively switching to a more positive approach to decision making.
- Practice – the more you practice the above, the easier it will become and eventually it will become your default.
- Meditation and essential oils are powerful ways to help you cultivate the desired feelings above. My favourite essential oil blends are Salubelle, Balance and Cheer. You can find out more about essential oils here.