TCM Classic — as we get ready to celebrate Halloween we’re reflecting on the nature of fear and how we can learn how to manage it more mindfully. Running away from all that causes us unease is not an option if we wish to grow. We love this piece on working through fears and decided it’s the perfect time to bring it back up…
You are not your fear. It’s the most human thing in the world to worry — whether that’s about fear of failure, fear of commitment, or fear of the unknown — but it doesn’t need to be paralyzing. According to Monica Berg, Chief Communications Officer of The Kabbalah Centre and author of Fear is Not an Option, when we’re able to transcend the influence of fear, we open up space for opportunity and growth. We asked Monica to share a few techniques for working through fears and finding your true power…
We know a few things about fear. Namely, we know what it feels like and we know what scares us, but we are usually at a loss when it comes to assuaging this discomfort. Feeding the fear doesn’t serve us, it doesn’t help us and it doesn’t change the situation. It fuels an already chaotic situation and makes it worse. It doesn’t change the reality of what is, or what’s going to be, or what should be. It doesn’t do anything but paralyze us.
Most try to cope, but we can eradicate fear all together. It sounds simple, but that is the thing about these silly fears: The only thing providing them sustenance is you. You feed the fear every time you give into it. You feed it, it becomes stronger and its appetite grows. Once you make the decision to give fear the boot, it no longer has a place in your mind and, therefore, no place in your life.
In the absence of the fear, your life will begin to unfold in incredible ways. By meeting it head on, the fear you have can be cut down to size and its power taken away. The ultimate goal is to transcend fear and come to a place where you trust the process of your life.
7 Tools For Working Through Your Fears
As a long time student of Kabbalah, I have found the wisdom to be life changing. The kabbalistic perspective on fear is both unique and profound. I’ve distilled kabbalistic teachings in some of the following tools.
Name your fear | Rav Berg said. “Of all the fears that bedevil mankind, none is so terrifying as fear of the unknown; what is unknown can neither be avoided nor controlled. By naming the creatures of a newly formed world, Adam became the master of his environment.” The creatures in the quote are our fears. The first step toward fearless living is to identify your fears and name them.
I would like to eliminate my fear of ____________________________.
Burn your fear| Rav Isaac Luria, a prominent kabbalist, teaches that if you have a fearful thought, envision or build an actual fire. Bring the fearful thought into your mind and visualize the thought being thrown into the fire and erased from your consciousness.
Diminish your fear | When fear comes in ask, Why is this coming to me? Let go and trust. Say to yourself, Fear is an opportunity. We all have strengths that are shown through challenges and each is designed to help us become our most fully realized self. Shift your consciousness. Do not give power to your fear.
Trim tabs | Illogical fears are detrimental because they impede our ability to live life fully and are responsible for our most debilitating experiences. Small steps have never been more imperative than in the case of eradicating fear. When action is taken in small steps it can lead to great change.
Like adding trim tabs to a boat, for example. For those unfamiliar, trim tabs are the tiny rudders attached to the back of large ships that offer assistance to the main rudder by mitigating pressure. They were invented by philosopher and engineer Buckminster Fuller and are a very small adjustment that provides a major shift. In what ways can you apply trim tabs (small changes) to your current reality that can help you to eliminate fear?
Create an ANTI-FEAR MANTRA | Another useful tool for eradicating fear-based thoughts is turning your fear around to create an affirmative mantra. Let’s use the example of someone who is fearful of public speaking. The fearful thought is: I’ll get up there, I’ll be visibly shaken, I’ll forget what I want to say, and no one will ever want to hear me speak again. I’ll be humiliated.
The mantra is: I am fully prepared. Everything I have to say is helpful, well-founded and something I believe in. By simply reversing the fear, you have created a mantra that not only empowers you but also eliminates the fearful origin. Practice turning a few of your own fearful thoughts into empowering mantras.
ENGAGE YOUR BODY | A power pose is a pose in which we are relaxed and open. Your shoulders are square, spine is straight, chest is lifted and your hands are on your hips. Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy conducted a study to research whether or not certain power poses affected the people who embodied them, and the results were unanimous. Participants assuming power poses saw a 20% spike in testosterone, the dominance hormone. The overall result: Strike a powerful pose, feel more powerful. It is a simple practice that can be done anywhere and is sure to help you feel strong in the face of your fears.
Fear is Not an Option | Live with this conciseness. Practice it daily. It’s a mantra, it’s a lifestyle.