Stuffing Down Fear is a Recipe for Disaster
Many of us see fear as something we must stuff down in order to move forward; to get past the things which scare us silly and hold us back from achieving our dreams. But stuffing anything down is a recipe for disaster, be it fear, feelings, or those warnings our gut gives us when something really isn’t right.
After going through the volcanic disaster of decades-old stuffed-down feelings expressing their displeasure with their long confinement, I’m less inclined to stuff anything down any more. But what do you do when fear paralyzes you and prevents you from moving into your rightful place in the world? If you can’t stuff it down, what do you do with the darn thing?
Acknowledge and Release
Recently I saw someone say of fear that they acknowledge it lovingly and give it its place in the mix. However, when it comes to deciding how to proceed, their fear doesn’t get a vote. I rather liked the analogy, and have adopted it for my own, as well as applying it to the feelings I used to mercilessly cram into a small box deep inside my psyche.
It’s ironic that I refused to acknowledge my own, yet told my daughters over and over that their feelings were their feelings. They had no on/off switch (their father used to tell them “you shouldn’t feel like that” as if it was something they could control). What is fear really, but one of those unquenchable feelings?
Initially, fear is in place to protect us from harm. As we grow older, what constitutes harm changes. Our minds take comfort in sameness, so anything that threatens to alter our life or patterns is seen as a threat, and the fear missile is launched. Once launched, the mission can’t be aborted, but it can be redirected towards a benign target. If we catch it early enough, we might even be able to halt the launch, shut down the engines, and put the missile back into storage. It’s still in the warehouse, or maybe even on the launching pad, but for now, the countdown has been halted.
The Key to Gaining Mastery Over Our Fears is An Early Warning System
It is a matter of both practice and awareness to keep our fears in their rightful place. Shutting them down, stuffing them into a box, or inuring ourselves to their effects is never the right choice. There is a time and a place for those fears to launch; to send out the flares, the red flags, the sirens, and the flashing lights. There are times in our lives when we will be in real danger, unless of course we wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and find a cave to live in. In that case, we’re not really living, so if you ask me, why bother? Life is interesting with a little danger in it. For some who thrive on adrenaline rushes, the amount of danger required can be significantly higher. They’ve clearly mastered their fears better than most.
We all have different levels of fear tolerance. Some of us might be fine with jumping out of a plane, but changing jobs sends us into a panic attack. Others might find moving from one country to another exciting and exhilarating, but the idea of dating puts them in a cold sweat. We are all different and unique, and as such, our fear tolerance isn’t a single level, but situational.
Even so, our evolution as a Human Being (emphasis on the “Being”) depends on gaining mastery over our fears so we can grow and progress.
Fear and Our Comfort Zone
Someone recently said to me “fear is what gets us out of our comfort zone”. I disagree. I believe fear is what keeps us there. It’s our mind telling us: “You don’t want to go out there. There might be goblins, or wolves, or other scary things. Stay in here with me where it’s safe and warm, and you know who’s in here with you.” If you ask me, being stuck in a box with a scaredy-cat is far more frightening than braving the unknown. But I can only speak for myself. I’m also not going to go jump out of a perfectly good plane, but I have friends who do and love it. I suspect I’ve taken risks they’d never even consider.
Still, we ignore fear to our own detriment. There are going to be times when it saves our bacon, even while there are many more when it would hold us back if we let it. Which is why I like the idea of acknowledging it while denying it a say in the decisions we ultimately make about ourselves and our lives.
It’s a lot like a brainstorming session you might have at work. A lot of ideas are thrown out on the table. Some will clearly be unworkable. Others will seem unlikely, but not worth casting away without further discussion, and some will be divvied up right away for further evaluation. I see fear as part of the second group. They may be unlikely, but are worth considering as there may be some merit, if only to remind us to proceed cautiously with eyes and ears wide open for possible pitfalls on a route chosen for innovation and new horizons.
Finding the Right Mix
When we temper fear with our desire for change, we get a healthier version which is caution. A mountain climber uses this refinement when she tests a new hand- or foot-hold before putting weight on it. We back up our computers and save our files somewhere that’s more protected from crashes because of that caution. Still, we don’t allow it to determine our next move. It’s simply built into our process to protect the progress we’ve made so far.
The caution exercised as a result of our fears makes recovery from failure quicker because the damage is minimized. Think how much longer it would take to implement changes if we were back to square one every time we failed. If you ask me, we have our fears to thank for the shorter, less painful falls.
Think of it this way. The parachute would never have been invented had we expected planes (especially the early ones) to remain in the air and land safely 100% of the time.
For more on Fear, check out my Facebook Live
Gratitude; Our Strongest Ally
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful I’m coming to terms with my fears without letting them freeze me in place.
- I am grateful for the people who help me overcome my fears and continue moving forward.
- I am grateful for opportunities to test and release my fears.
- I am grateful for the new horizons that have opened up since I stopped allowing my fears to vote.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, life, freedom, opportunities, mentors, coaches, friends, encouragement, lessons, joy, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love, and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.