With so many global and national events happening each day while dealing with the pandemic, no matter what you believe, it’s become difficult to stay in a bubble without feeling the impact of what’s been happening lately.
In my work with business clients –they are already dealing with life stresses of caretaking elders, not seeing their family more regularly, or being triggered by the news and unable to focus at work.
This is causing higher levels of emotional stress than they are used to managing and looking for ways to stay grounded while also taking care of their well-being, growing their business, and taking a stand for what they believe in society will create a better future for all.
Let’s take the following situation – a family member voted differently in politics or doesn’t acknowledge or believe in the same reality as you. This divide can be healed by first going within to face and embrace your fears, then having tough conversations and creating your stand in the world.
But first, it starts with you.
This is the vast majority of work. Remember, no amount of “conflict resolution” or “communications” training will make a lasting difference unless you’re at peace with yourself, able to face, and even love your fear.
If you consider the world’s chaos on the outside is a reflection of the inner turmoil within–you’ll begin getting to the source of the chaos in our world today.
Let’s begin and make friends with fear.
Here’s an executive summary video version of this blog as well:
Step 1: Be Willing to Face Feeling the Fear
What is your relationship to fear?
Rather than thinking intellectually about it, let’s look to your body to tell you. Just like numbers don’t lie in a business, your body’s reactions don’t lie about your subconscious thoughts, feelings, and emotions on a matter that causes your reactions.
To understand your default narrative on fear, picture any current event, relationship, or daunting task in your business that brings up fear for you.
Then simply observe what first words, feelings, or body sensations popped in your head and write it down. Do the following exercise:
- What instant thoughts or phrases come to your mind? Fear is ______. Fill in the blank.
- Where in your body do you feel the fear? Does it constrict your chest, get stuck in your throat, or make your gut churn? Do you get enraged, want to hide and run away, or do you get numb and freeze?
- What other memories arise from your past or from the future? What feelings arise from those past or future memories?
Don’t get lost in those memories and reactions. Do your best to simply notice how your body responds when you imagine this fear raising event, relationship, or daunting task.
Step 2: Allowing and Accepting the Fear
After you face the feeling of fear, you’ve almost already accomplished the next step of allowing fear. Allowing or accepting fear doesn’t mean you condone the fear or that you think the fear is ok or even good.
Allowing or accepting the fear is simply being with the fear, allowing it to exist, and accepting that it’s there at all. To do this, you must be neutral as you tap, observe, and watch yourself as if on the outside looking in.
Fear can even be reduced down to a particular set of feelings, thoughts, and body reactions; then humans labeled fear to describe that experience. Perhaps your heart races, your mouth goes dry, and you’re anxious, and your head says, “stop!” or get angry. That collective experience is now called fear.
Whatever version of fear you experience, take a deep breath. Take another deep breath and keep taking deep inhales and exhales as you continue being with fear, noticing your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations.
Step 3: Picture Fear Like a Little Monster
Picture fear like a little monster who just wants love.
Imagine you’re sitting at home when suddenly the little monster – Fear, shows up at your doorstep, knocking on the door. Seeing it’s the little monster – Fear, your initial reaction is to ignore the door knocking.
But fear keeps knocking louder. You say to the door, “Fear go away!” but the fear simply knocks more loudly and is getting angrier. The more you resist, the more fear starts banging loudly on your door, wildly shouting obscenities.
This is like what’s happening in our world. We cannot continue to ignore the fear that lives in the hearts of many in our country that may have different or opposing beliefs.
We must first be willing to face feeling the fear then allowing the fear.
If you continue to ignore, get angry at, or whatever other reaction in your unique response to fear is, the little monster will keep growing inside you until it rears its head and leaks out while you’re with a client, and something happens when you’re sitting at dinner with your family, or just walking outside.
Having the courage to feel the fear and be with it anyway by simply practicing feeling it and breathing through it to relax your body is something you should be proud of. Because you are building a muscle of handling fear constructively in a healthy manner.
If you’ve made it even this far, you are far ahead of the vast majority of humanity, which is SO worth celebrating. Take a break, and enjoy yourself, relax, and treat yourself.
You can hang out practicing just these steps for a while until some basic mastery is attained. Then you can move on to the next stage.
Step 4: Connecting to the Fear
Once you can see fear like a little monster who wants love, next you can connect to the fear. You can talk -much like a mom or dad would talk to a child throwing a tantrum and doesn’t know any better.
To connect to your fear, presence it again by imagining the situation, the person, or the challenge you face.
Breathe deeply as you notice your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations arise.
Once in a fairly neutral or calm state, now ask your fear “What’s your message to me?” or “What do you want to say to me?” Now your job is to listen.
It’s likely you’ll have lots of automatic responses from fear, saying some form of “Pay attention to me!”. Simply listen. You might also journal some notes.
Step 5: Thanking the Fear
Now that you’ve allowed fear to say it’s peace, it’s time for you to acknowledge the fear for the role it’s playing.
Whether that’s teaching you a skill you otherwise wouldn’t have to learn or building a muscle that needs building–you can ask questions like:
- How have you served me?
- What is your lesson and gift for me now?
- What do you need from me to take a healthy and constructive place in my life?
- What guidance do you want to give me? What do I need to embrace or let go of?
- What actions am I called to take? What does it specifically look like?
The beauty of questions is that your brain will then work hard to answer them. This will take critical thinking to truly inquire, explore, and listen to your inner wisdom’s responses to the fear.
Automatically when you inquire and explore a question, your brain eagerly wants to find an answer. You might have automatic answers which could be valid, and I invite you to wait patiently and listen. Take notes of what replies you receive.
Thank the fear for being in your life.
Step 6: Embracing the Fear
Now that you’ve connected with the fear, got an understanding of where fear was coming from, and perhaps learned some new perspective or insight that wouldn’t’ have been possible had you not cared to ask questions and been courageous to face the fear in the first place, you’re now ready for the next step.
Embracing fear is very much like giving fear a hug. Now that the fear isn’t a threat (in essence, you didn’t treat fear with more fear to feed it), give the fear some love. You will often find love is MUCH more powerful than fear and has the power to transmute the fear into love.
You might discover that fear was just the monster clothing on the outside, and on the inside, fear at the core is light and love. It’s as if by loving fear, you are reintegrating, or unifying the yin and the yang, the polar opposites into one piece–true unity of dichotomies.
You can make a motion of hugging yourself or any other gesture and/or sound of relief once you’ve integrated and come to terms with the fear in a very loving, positive way.
Anytime that particular flavor of fear comes up, you can simply smile and say: “oh hey! I love you –there’s nothing to be scared of.” Then embrace the fear into your heart of shining love–not in order to get rid of, exterminate, and disappear the fear. That’s just a disguised way of fighting the fear through fake love.
You must authentically in your heart FEEL an expansive sense of openness to truly embrace fear. You’ll know if it’s fake love by simply checking your heart rate.
If your breath is shallow, or you feel constricted or contracted energetically in anyway –fake love. But if you feel relaxed, expansive, triggerless, and open–then you’ve just had a moment of enlightenment.
Now What? Apply these Steps in Real Life
The game from here on out is to continue more instances of embracing fears as they come up. As you get more fascicle and powerful in building up your muscles, you’ll likely be able to handle larger fears.
This simply means fears may never go away–they simply have less charge, less grip as you continue building your ability to embrace fear.
Journal your progress. Make a note each time fear comes up. Run through this sequence of being willing to face feeling the fear, allowing, accepting, connecting, thinking, and embracing the fear. In the beginning, it will take effort, and once you practice this, it can get easier and faster.
Know that your fears will just get bigger, so the game is to have big enough fears worth having. When fear is a word like “the,” and you have the power to choose how you’ll be with fear or not–that’s the point of this conversation.
Many times, you may choose to react to the fear with more fear. That’s ok. Give yourself grace and space to continue making mistakes and practice. The act of giving yourself grace IS doing this entire sequence in a moment. It doesn’t have to be hard. It’s not a linear path. It’s simply bringing an awareness instantly into the moment.
What’s Possible: The Future is In Your Hands
Right now, we face unprecedented times. While you make a tune out that overused word, it’s accurate and worth tuning back in.
Consider these times are an opportunity, a spiritual test of radical, unconditional love.
By being willing to face feeling the fear, allowing and accepting fear, connecting to and thanking the fear, and embracing the fear is essentially practicing unconditional love.
Embodying unconditional love requires a life of mastery, and it can be easy, instantaneous, in a moment.
Making peace with yourself and others begins with you. From there, you can take the next step of interacting with others where fear may come up and practicing the same sequence.
Imagine a world where instead of fighting fear, resisting fear, ignoring, or running away from fear–we look forward to uncomfortable conversations. We know it’s the only way to truly unite as humanity on this planet, making war a notion of the past as we create a more peaceful society. It all starts with you.
Anna S. Choi helps growing, six-figure earning, overachieving, conscious business leaders–who are exhausted meeting the demands of their day–prevent burnout as they scale their impact. They want to build habits for staying happy, energized, and focused to perform at their optimum given the demands, complexities, and uncontrollable environments that suck up their energy.
Or you can contact me, and I will be glad to talk to you and discuss how we can improve your situation.