Is fear your default setting?
It’s definitely mine. Although I’m still working on shifting my mindset from a place of fear to a place of love, fear rears its head when I’m not completely focused on love and compassion.
It’s always been like that for me. I was a fearful child, literally scared of my own shadow, and I carried those fears with me well into adulthood. They shifted shape and morphed from fears of the dark and thunderstorms, to being scared of change and resistant to letting go of attachments. Looking back, I realise that for many years fear was making big life decisions on my behalf. The job I was scared to quit, the boyfriend I stayed with too long, the dreams I didn’t fulfill… all coming from a place of fear.
When it comes to death it’s safe to say that fear is the leading lady (or man) in many lives. It’s the ultimate confrontation; the finality of it being truly terrifying for some. I remember my reaction to my mum’s cancer diagnosis – full blown terror at the thought of her dying. Every decision we made after that was based on fear, the huge elephant in our family that suddenly replaced all rational thinking with fear-based thinking.
Something had to change.
Already on a spiritual journey I decided in that moment to let love lead the way. We couldn’t change the diagnosis, that was set, but we could change the way we reacted. Rather than making decisions based on fear, I chose to make love the star. I led with compassion, with grace and with gratitude and things started to shift for us all. The situation didn’t change, but our mindset around it did and that’s what helped get us through.
Here are the tools I used to choose love over fear in every moment (even the really scary ones):
1. Breathe Before You React
So often we take our first reaction to scary situations as truth. You know the one, that triggered response that often manifests in anger or disbelief where your senses are on high alert, your ears are ringing and you’re pretty sure the world is spinning on its axis. You might even want to lash out or go into your shell – either way, that very first response is rarely calm or filled with any form of grace.
What if you take a beat to pause and breathe? It sounds so simple writing it, but in that moment it’s so often forgotten and that very act of stopping to process, breathe and then react can make the world of difference. Your actions might not change, but rather than it being a reaction it’s a chosen response. Very different. Very powerful.
That millisecond has saved me countless times from reacting in fear rather than love. So often I’ve caught myself going to scream, shout or say something I’ll regret but in that brief moment I’ve stopped and instead reacted with love. I now use this with my kids, my husband and any situation when I feel triggered. It really is life-changing.
2. Arm Yourself with Answers
Fear is often a side-effect of ignorance. The unknown can be a really uncomfortable place to visit so when you receive a fear-bomb, it’s time to arm yourself with answers. With knowledge. In my case, when mum received her cancer diagnosis I automatically thought it was a death sentence because I knew nothing about cancer. I quickly learned as much as I could and having all the facts really helped subside that fear. Another example: death. I used to be so scared of dying, especially after becoming a mum. I was terrified that something would happen to me or my kids, so much so I couldn’t think about it. But when I started to explore my belief system around death and accept that, yep, I am going to die one day, my fear slowly started shifting.
3. Commit to Your Cause
If you’re serious about shifting fear you need to commit and start putting in the hard work. One of my favourite ways to do this is to set clear intentions. Intentions help guide you from point A to point B with a specific plan in place. Say, for example, you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one and are feeling weighed down by your emotions (totally normal, by the way). Try setting clear intentions for your day ahead, start small, even just putting a word down on paper around how you want to navigate your day: peace, acceptance, strength… whatever it is that resonates with you, try using it to help support you through your journey moving forward.
4. Fill Up Your Cup
If you want love to override fear you need to be brimming with the good stuff. Self-love is the best antidote to fear – it fills you up from the inside so you can move forward in a more positive way. Whatever it is that you need to do to feel love, do it! For me it’s yoga, meditation and reading soul-nourishing books. I also listen to podcasts and music. A day of that and I’m literally bursting with love to sprinkle over my family, friends, clients and community. How do you love yourself?
5. Anchor Yourself
My experience with fear is that it always takes me into my head. It’s like the world closes over and I’m stuck in my thoughts and emotions, and it’s really hard to navigate my way out. Knowing how to anchor myself and literally get out of my head and back into my body has helped me when I’ve felt fear taking hold.
My trick is to take a few deep breaths and instantly visualise my feet. That simple tool helps shift my perspective from head to toe, and as your toes are grounded, it’s a powerful way to ground your thoughts, too. If I need to I take off my shoes and head for grass or sand I do – whatever it takes to get grounded, fast. I then keep taking deep breaths and visualise my heart Chakra receiving red light on the inhale and opening right up on the exhale. Repeat until safety returns.