To Live beyond FEAR
I often refer clients to the classic handbook for building confidence in life, “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. Many people, especially those who see themselves as strong and confident, would rather not identify with fear. But what if Fear could be seen as
F alse E xpectations A ppearing R eal (FEAR)
That means, if we imagine or think that something unpleasant could happen, and it’s not happening RIGHT NOW, then it is a False Expectation Appearing Real, and is a FEAR thought. For example, if I think I could be run over by a bus tomorrow, or that I may get sick if I travel to Bali, those are both FEAR thoughts, as they are not happening right now.
When we start noticing our thinking, so many thoughts fall into the FEAR category. Is it any wonder that anxiety is on the rise in our western culture, and there is concern about high levels of anxiety among children too?
So how can we counteract our tendency towards fearful thinking? Susan Jeffers suggests that we can develop counter thoughts, to be able to challenge our fear thoughts. One of her key messages is that everyone experiences fear when facing something new or unfamiliar. Successful and confident people are those who develop helpful self talk, and who are able to act and try things, DESPITE the fear. They are not stopped by the fear – they move beyond it. She invites readers to develop a personal mantra than can become a deep, supportive belief, for example, “No matter what happens, I will be able to handle it.”
A theme for my travels in South America was “ Vivir sin Miedo “, or to Live beyond Fear. In Peru a highlight for me was the exhilarating experience of ‘flying’ down a steep, windy mountain pass (4,500m high) on a bicycle, loving the twists and turns and the adrenaline rush. As I gathered momentum and navigated the blind hairpin bends at speed, I was squealing with delight, “Wheeeeee! This is such fun!” Then I noticed a fear thought marching across my mental screen, saying, “If you hit a pothole, or have a tyre blowout, you’re dead”. I was able to summon up a counter thought,” Thank you, but I don’t want or need that thought.” Then I was able to resume my delight, “Wheeeeee! This is such fun. ” It was such a clear example of being able to consciously catch and head off the fear thought, and enjoy the freedom that followed.
Next time you notice a FEAR thought on your mental screen, try replacing it with a preferred thought….like an internal tweet! Have fun with it and don’t make yourself wrong when you notice how FEAR-full our thinking can be.