When You’re Freaking Out: Ways to Handle Fear You Need to Know About

fearpainReinventing yourself —is like getting a doctorate degree in how to handle fear.

When you take a risk or believe in yourself, reality isn’t the enemy. Fear is.

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world,” says Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Fear tells you lies. Fear points to your hemorrhaging bank account, your loose teeth and missed opportunities, and how everyone else either won a Grammy, married rich, hit theNew York Times Bestseller list or had three perfect children– and not a one of them ever opened a meth lab, went on a killing spree, or dropped out of law school.

Fear specializes in shadow making. Fear growls and rumbles to keep you frozen in a debate with yourself that never goes anywhere.  Fear points to “reality,” while taking you right out of it. Because my friend– love is the only reality. No matter what the facts of your current life suggest, love has other facts, other factors, and other capacities.

The most important thing you will ever do in this lifetime is stop listening to your fear.  Students and clients ask me all the time, “What did you do?” “How did you handle it?”

I so love that they assume I’ve handled it.

Truth is, I have handled many fears. And I will handle many more because I am committed to living my destiny and my dreams.

How do you handle fears?

If you’ve read my book This Time I Dance! Creating the Work you Love, you know the sad parade of anxieties I faced in leaving the corporate world for the creative one. As in any kind of transition, I dealt with leaving behind an established identity–to make way for the bigger mystery.

I wrote in my journal.

I didn’t just write my fears ad nauseum. Well, not after the first 10 years. I wrote the fears. And then I wrote back to myself from the Voice of Love.  (This Voice of Love is a technique I teach in most of my workshops and online courses.) Imagine the wisest most incredible Presence you can imagine speaking to you about your fears. Some imagine it as an angel or Jesus– the Dude, or the Shekina or Atman or someone high and cool on the spiritual food chain.  Some imagine this voice as the voice of a loving mother or father or spouse or sibling. Some imagine it as the voice they themselves would use to speak to their best friend or child. Writing from this Presence, I suggest answering the concern of the fear. Coo, if you can.

I called friends. I made myself be kind to myself.

Sometimes I’d go out to dinner with a friend, on the money I didn’t have, and that simple nurturing would make everything fall back into place.

I read books. (Especially spiritual ones)

I am a student and teacher of A Course in Miracles. And I believe that applied spirituality, whatever your brand, answers every fear, smoothes your brow, launches your rockets, and is better than a pint of slightly melted Häagen Dazs coffee ice cream which is about the best endorsement I can offer you.  In terms of books, I also love Pema ChödrönAnne Lamott, and lately the work of Abraham-Hicks.

I didn’t make fear wrong.

I cried the tears I needed to cry and underneath I found a silver strength waiting for me. I got busy doing other things. Sometimes I rolled up my sleeves like a Puritan pounding out stains on britches with lye soap. I got absorbed in something other than myself and my imminent ruin. Or I focused on writing, got busy on the path of my good. Found myself carried off by the talons of magic and secret talent.

I found something to love.

You can’t be thinking about your fears– and thinking about what moves you, touches you, emboldens you, and tickles you at the same time. Really, if you’re momentarily focused on how much you love the color teal, a baby seal, your friend in Bosnia going through a divorce or the feel of your cotton sheet, you are not in debt, you are not dying, and you are not worthless.  At least for that moment.

Others exercise. Count their breaths, stand on their head, run for miles, and sweat their toxins. Others meditate, observe their thoughts with unbiased attention, as though examining melons at the Farmer’s Market.  Oh look, that one has a spot. Not, oh my God, I’ve spent years growing the wrong fruits and now I’m so f#*d!

One thing I can tell you about fear is that it is not real in the present moment. Whenever you’re in fear you are focusing on an imagined future or imagined past. You are not right here. Right here, even if you are dying, everything is okay, spacious, and is a tremendous gift— and part of you knows this. Right here, right now, a miracle as quiet as a hidden jaguar waits for you. It will wait forever for you.

It’s a lifelong process, this facing fear. I am timid by nature, so I’m always looking for new recipes but I’ll tell you that, so far, everyone of them has acceptance as its main ingredient. I recommend it.

So here’s a start. I bless your fear.  I am so proud of you for feeling fear. It means you’re expanding. It means you’re being honest. It means you’re present in your life. And it means you’ve received the invitation to the greatest party on earth….the invitation to meet and celebrate the real you, the one who loves herself so purely, fear just melts into a speck that wants to be near her light.

So, how do you deal with fear or pain?