Breaking down fear, for what it is

I have been reading and thinking a lot about stepping out of comfort zones lately – you know – the spaces that fear keeps you in to avoid emotional and physical vulnerability. I am learning that we can’t really blame fear for this, either. After all, fear is just trying to do its job – to protect us from harm.

It makes sense if you think about it. Fear is a survival strategy that has protected our race as we have evolved. Back when survival was the main concern in life, fear would keep us from getting too close to danger.  (Now go ahead, think cave men and women around the fire sewing hides together for clothing and cleaning their latest kill… if the Flintstones come to mind, that’s cool too 😉 ). Fear would also drive us to go out and hunt for our families because if we didn’t, we would all die from starvation.

We have many kinds of fears, but we can usually categorize them into either physical, or emotional. Emotional fear was important to survival because we did not want to get rejected, or lose those nurturing relationships that protected us and gave us strength in groups. Rebelling against the pack meant you were left on your own to fend for yourself – literally.

Ok, now let’s fast-forward thousands of years and take a look at Jenn, who is sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop on Broadway in Vancouver, BC. She’s settled at the high-top table by the window, casually scrolling through some job descriptions on her mac book. She sees one that requires three more years of experience than she has. Jenn’s thoughts: “Oh, no definitely not that one, I am not sure I could do steps five and six.” Then she sees a writer position posted, but immediately glazes over it because she’s never had that job title before, even though writing interests her. Her eyes drift upwards out the window and they fall upon a good looking guy. Jen has been single for a while, and she would love to meet that guy out there, but there is no way she would risk the possibility of embarrassing herself by going up to him, in case he wasn’t interested.

There is a common theme during Jenn’s experience in the coffee shop. Every time she decides not to do something, it’s because of her fear. This is when fear sucks, today. It keeps us small, and gives us the easy way out so we don’t rock the boat or put ourselves into nerve wracking situations.

Imagine though, if Jenn applied to the job that required more years of experience than she had. Two things could have happened during the interview: She could have impressed the heck out of the employer by being who she was and pulling on the strong skills she did have, or, maybe the interview doesn’t go that well, and they thought that indeed she was unqualified. So what? A little disappointment is the worst that could have happened.

But, that feeling of fear is so intense. It says “no! don’t do it!” But really today, we would not be seriously harmed if we failed at an interview or got rejected by a boy.

If you want to go for what you REALLY want, and take risks to live truly to your own heart, then sure, you might get criticized by someone else, you might put yourself into situations that you feel are out of your league. You might get embarrassed or fail sometimes. But today, this isn’t a matter of life or death. It’s just a matter of getting past the fear that keeps us small. I also believe that once we do something we were afraid of and succeed, we re-train our minds and the fear disappears because whatever it was protecting us from didn’t in fact, attack us in the night and end our lives.

Thank you all for reading this week, I hope that seeing fear in this perspective will help you recognize it for what it is, and appreciate it, but refuse to let it stop you from going after what you want. F.E.A.R. is just a feeling, and it is always FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL.

XOXO until next time,

Your fellow HSP, Chelsie

 

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Life isn’t meant to be taken so seriously

I don’t know about you, but whenever I am reminded of this, I feel lighter and more relaxed inside. There is so much power in these words. My dad used to say it to my sister and I when we were kids. I loved to be reminded of it, especially when I was a teenager. Back then, one pimple could ruin my day! I can think back to so many times in my life where I was so consumed with something that was difficult, stressful or anxiety creating. I was hard on myself. “What if I don’t figure out what I want to do in my life by the time I am 25?” “I just stained my brand new white shirt when I spilled coffee on myself,” “That magazine I submitted my article to didn’t get back to me…”

The concept of not taking life so seriously might be tricky to understand sometimes too… especially for those of us who are naturally hard on ourselves. Where are my HSPs and empaths in the room?! I know most of you have been too hard on yourself at some point of your lives. 😉

Pushing ourselves to go far and succeed can get us places, yes, but what if we don’t meet the extremely high expectectations we have set for ourselves because, well, we are only human?! Too often, we turn a corner right into a snow bank of self doubting thoughts.

“Life isn’t meant to be taken so seriously….”

Give yourself a break. Life in this skin we are in is short and I don’t know about you, but I want to feel as happy and content as often as I possibly can. We are going to let others down in our lives, and we are going to wind up doing something or taking a turn that we didn’t plan for or expect.

But remember, you have the ability to feel the way you want to feel. I am really practicing that right now. The difference between then and now is that today, when I start going down a road of fear or doubt, when I start getting confused about what is next I remember that I have the power to go back to being happy again by letting go; getting back to the basics. Whatever it is that we want, we usually want it because we think it will make us feel good and happy. But if stressing about getting it is causing it to be “un-fun,” then we are missing the point.

So next time you are taking a matter REALLY seriously, ask yourself:  “Where was I, before I started feeling stressed and unhappy?” Your response will probably be similar to: “oh yah, I was living in the now, focusing on my life day to day and all the blessings it presents.” Remember how far you have come. Think back to all that you have accomplished. And don’t take what you don’t know or didn’t do so seriously…. It is all a journey that unfolds as we go.

Thanks for reading this week,

XO your fellow HSP, Chelsie

~Oh and thanks Dad, for telling me not to take life so seriously, and thanks to my boyfriend Matt for reminding me of it the other week when I really needed it hear it. ~