“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart” (Roy T Bennett)

According to psychology research (Lisa Fritscher: Very Well Mind), fear is a primal emotion that involves a universal biochemical response and a high individual emotional response. Fear is helpful when it alerts us to the presence of danger or the threat of harm, whether that danger is physical or psychological. Sometimes fear stems from real threats, but it can also originate, however, from imagined dangers. While fear is a natural response to some situations, it can also lead to distress and disruption when extreme or out of proportion to the actual threat. This condition is debilitating and holds a person back from performing well, attempting things that a person has never tried before or not attempting again things of which a person has failed at before.

We need to face our fears and anxieties, so they don’t become debilitating. We need to identify ways to create a sense of personal control or mastery in our lives and not let anxieties hold us back. The following tenets may be helpful:

  1. Avoid avoidance – facing your fears is challenging but avoiding them is self-defeating. Fears and anxiety don’t just disappear – they have a habit of appearing when you least expect them. Sometimes they nag in your gut for weeks or months, always distracting you away from needed focus areas. Facing your fears, however, is admitting that they exist, and this gives you an opportunity to deal with them. Thich Nhat Hanh notes: “Every time your fear is invited up, every time you recognise it and smile at it, your fear will lose some of its strength.”
  2. Think positively – fear causes you to notice and remember negative events. You harbour negative thoughts and increase self-doubt. Rather ask yourself questions like: “What are my gifts? What’s really good about me? What about my situation is still great? What can I do to make small changes to how I feel about myself or my situation? According to research by Barbara Fredrickson, positivity broadens your perspective—you literally have a wider view, which offers you more options. And the more you practice positivity, the more it builds, creating a resilience that allows you to function even in difficult times.
  3. Establish purpose – fear shatters your world as you know it, leading you to question the meaning of your lives. Trauma survivors also often feel guilty about what happened, feeling, illogically, that they could have somehow prevented it, and this shame can also contribute to doubts about their meaning. It is thus important to rediscover a sense of purpose – I exist because… Having a sense of the value you bring, the positive influence you exert on others, the contribution to life that you make, these all strengthen your resolve to continue being this person and making a meaningful difference.
  4. Seek support – anxiety or fear causes you to feel disconnected from others. Friends, family, or professional help can help you make a realistic assessment of the threat. With the support of others, you will feel more confident that you can deal with issues. And physically, having a loved one close, calms you and reduces the fight or flight response.

Be led by your heart’s dreams, not by anxieties and other fears which threaten your self-esteem and hold you back from reaching your potential. Set your focus and apply your energy to your vision.

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