noun: A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined
verb: To consider or anticipate something unpleasant with a feeling of dread or alarm
Most of you know that I am very passionate about FEAR. My tag line is Live Fearless and Free, but the question most people ask me is HOW to stop fear from running their lives so they can, indeed, Live Fearless and Free.
I must start by clarifying that I am not anti-fear.
In fact, I have total respect for my fear and use it to inform my decisions, which is completely different than allowing it to dictate my decisions.
Fear is a part of what it means to be human and can be a valued friend and teacher, if you are in the know and in control.
Today, let’s cover basic human fears. Next week, we will move into a step-by-step action plan to de-construct the fear that gets in the way of what you want in your life. Being able to distinguish the difference between dysfunctional fear and informed fear is the first step to taking your power back!
According to Karl Albrecht, PhD, there are Only Five Basic Human Fears:
1. Extinction: fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it the “fear of death.” The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in most humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
2. Mutilation: fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. For example, anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
3. Loss of Autonomy: fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or controlled by circumstances. In a physical form, it’s sometimes known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to social interactions and relationships.
4. Separation: fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The “silent treatment” can have a devastating psychological effect on the targeted person.
5. Ego-death: fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
If you peel back the layers of your fears and look at their content, they will inevitably fall into one of these categories. The key to using fear to propel you toward your dreams instead of stopping you in your tracks is to recognize that the daily fear you experience is a feeling of anxiety created by imagining terrible future events. I am not talking about fear when you are in imminent mortal danger (being held at gun point, for example, which I can tell you from experience should and does kick up your primal fight or flight response!). I am talking about fear of asking for a raise, speaking your truth, or saying “no.” I am talking about fear of embarrassment, rejection, being unworthy or not good enough. I am talking about the dream killing type of fear that exists in your mind and keeps you playing small in your life and the world. I am talking about the fear that inspires you to say what you think people want to hear, stay in a horrible marriage, and walk away from the risky proposition of boldly pursuing you dreams.
I am talking about the crafty type of fear that convinces you that existing is the same as living.
I challenge and invite you to write a list of all of your fears. Allow yourself the time and space to marinate on the fears that plague you and cause you anxiety.
Being able to see your fears clearly is the foundation for creating a healthy relationship with fear. The good news is that, if you take the time to write out your fears and peel back the layers of them, you will realize that fear is a feeling, not a fact, and, just like any other feeling, you can change your fearful ones too. If something happened in the past, now is not then. If you think something will happen, it’s not the future yet. BE HERE NOW.
To be continued…
Love Love Love
Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. A cornerstone of Terri’s practice, meditation, was the impetus for her recently released guided mediation CD Meditation Transformation. Terri can be found on Facebook and Twitter.