In the last week I faced three fears…
#1 Grizzly Bears
#2 Public Speaking with no prep
#3 Driving Mountain Passes
Yes, it was a very interesting weekend and anyone who saw the trunk of my car would have questioned my inner life. Gold glitter shoes, two gala dresses and camping gear!
LOVE MY LIFE!
Every time I go through an experience where I am facing a fear I am reminded of the goodness of God and all He has done in my mind and spirit and I am also reminded of all the tools I can use to face fearful situations.
The one mistake I used to make, which exasperated my anxiety, and the one mistake I see anxiety sufferers make over and over again is to try and stop feeling afraid.
Being a Canadian Gal, when you learn to drive, you learn to drive on icy roads and through wicked snow storms. The one rule that we are taught and usually have plenty of practice in, is that if you feel your vehicle sliding on ice and you’re losing control DO NOT SLAM ON THE BRAKES. We’re taught to pump the brakes and steer with the direction of the vehicle NOT THE OPPOSITE.
If we get stuck in a rut of a snow bank you DO NOT try to get out by pushing on the gas and driving straight, you learn to ease the gas and rock the vehicle back and forth until you build momentum, like a swing, and pretty soon you’re up and over the mound of snow.
When facing fears or anxious moments, how many times have you slammed on the brakes, tried to push the gas to get it over with, or tried to steer in the opposite direction? “think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts!”
The one thing many people miss is that the reason you become ‘afraid’ of something is because you are ‘afraid’ of feeling ‘afraid’ in that moment. Think about it. When it comes to hungry bears wanting my steak dinner, I am more afraid of feeling terrified in a bear encounter than I am of the bear. I dread public speaking unprepared because I hate feeling anxious and having to use so much energy to calm myself down. I hated flying for that reason too. I didn’t hate it because I thought I would crash but because I hated being stuck in a plane thousands of miles up and feeling afraid the whole time.
The truth is, is that you have nothing to fear but fear itself.
When we stop hating fear, when we stop resisting it’s presence and seeing it as bad, we live our lives with an ability to handle whatever comes our way. When I speak, I allow myself to feel nervous, I don’t work myself into a huff trying to calm myself down, I know once I’m up there I will be fine. If I try to calm myself and focus all of my attention on not being afraid in that moment I make it worse, every time! When I am facing bears, I am so grateful for fear because without it, I would act like the stupid man with his three little kids who moved closer to the Grizzly to get a better camera angle. UGH.
Fear wants to protect me.
The greatest victory for me in my walk out of anxiety was learning to befriend fear.