Have you ever attempted to fight off your anxiety, but no matter how hard you try, it still defeats you?
Have you tried to outrun your fear, only to have it overtake you just as you’re starting a new creative project?
Or have you felt so paralyzed by fear that you can’t make the smallest move forward, even toward self-care? If so, you’re not alone.
Fear is a universal human experience, everyone has it.
We can’t expect to get rid of it; nor would we want to, because fear houses the seeds of our potential. Yet fear causes us great physical, emotional, and spiritual distress.
What is the alternative to fighting it, fleeing from it, or letting it freeze us in place? How do we uncover its seeds and nourish them?
As an intuitive coach, I’ve dedicated much of my life’s work to helping people transform fear, and what I know is that no matter how it manifests, fear, and its cousin anxiety, lie at the core of our emotional struggles.
We are most vulnerable to fear, anxiety, and disintegration when we’re in between stages of life, jobs, careers, or relationships, or mourning the loss of a loved one.
In these times of uncertainty, we’re neither the person we used to be, nor the one we’re about to become.
This lack of definition is challenging, but there is more. In the unstructured space of transitions, we catch a glimpse of the person we could be, and this frightens us. What if we don’t get there? Yet what if we do?
How do we transform fear and suffering?
Firstly, we learn to be present with the direct experience of fear and anxiety, even when we want to avoid it, and this happens inside our body.
Fear is mediated through the two branches of the autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic (fight-flight-freeze) and parasympathetic (rest-and-digest). This two-part system structures our emotional well-being.
The more we choose the fight-flight-freeze response (nervous system overdrive), the more deeply we wire in that pattern. Eventually, overdrive becomes our default, and it’s harder to find balance and calm.
To navigate transitions, we need to balance the nervous system, which is easier said than done. The nervous system prefers things to stay the same, even if that means a state of fear and anxiety. What’s more is that we constantly subject our nervous system to multi-sensory overload. We ask it to process endless input from mobile phones, e-mail, social media and more. It’s hard to change this pattern, because the world we live in tells us we should accomplish more, and faster. So how do we balance our nervous system and learn to be with our fear and anxiety?
The tools of meditation and journaling ground us. They help us stay present and inhabit our bodies. They establish a safe container through which we can experience and move through fear. And they give our suffering the context of transformation, so it feels as though it has a higher purpose.
It’s important to know that no matter how dysfunctional our relationship with fear, anxiety and stress is, we have the innate capacity to transform it, and in doing so, transform our entire life.