Fear is a crucial emotion that exists to help you orient to your surroundings, identify change and possible hazards, and take actions to keep yourself safe. Without your fear, you’re not a superhero, no. No. Without your fear, you’re unaware, unintuitive, disoriented, and unsafe. ~ Karla McLaren, author of The Language of Emotions
A number of years ago, I was referred to a business coach by someone I completely trusted. She had helped me immensely in my business and I pretty much took her word as gospel.
But, when I visited the website, I got an immediate sick feeling in my gut.
It was fear.
My instincts were telling me to stay far, far away. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
I clicked away from the website immediately and went on about my life. But, the referrals for working with this person just kept pouring in.
So, I went back to the website a number of times and still got that same sick feeling.
I decided to ignore it and proceed with hiring them. Afterall, they came with such high praise from many people I trusted and respected.
I thought that I must be wrong about this and that my fears were simply not warranted.
I mean, a quick look on Pinterest will tell you that fear is not to be trusted and that you should ignore it at all costs, right?
Come to find out, my instincts about this particular coach were right.
My fear was inviting me to tune into my intuition and I completely ignored those signals and plowed ahead.
I don’t want to get into details about what exactly went down but I will say that it taught me to trust myself in a way that nothing else ever has.
So, today, I want to talk about the myths about fear and how they can keep you stuck. Or worse, send you down a path that is completely destructive.
Myth #1: Fear Means Stop (Or Run Like Hell)
Fear is our most primitive instinct.
Back when we were cavemen and cavewomen, our fear alerted us to predators. It’s what kept us safe and what has allowed our species to evolve. When we felt that sensation of fear, we could scan the horizon and see if we were in danger. If there was a tiger, we could run like hell.
The key understanding here is that fear isn’t necessarily telling us to run, fight, or freeze.
Fear is telling us to scan the horizon and see what is real in the present moment.
If you assume that it is telling you to stop, you might be holding yourself back.
But that doesn’t mean that fears mean GO, either.
Myth #2: Fear Means Go (You’re Onto Something Good)
As our consciousness has risen and our fears have allowed us to evolve, we’ve somehow done a 180° and made fear mean FORGE AHEAD.
The guru’s and inspirational speakers will tell you that your fear means you are about to embark upon something amazing and to GO GO GO.
But, the parts that missing from that advice is context. It isn’t always true that fear means GO.
In some cases, yes, it will be time to find your courage and be brave. And other times, it will be time to stop.
Let’s say that you are driving and start to approach a traffic light that is yellow.
It may be safe to drive through the light. But it may end up in a major accident.
Your job when you see that yellow light isn’t to press like a wild woman on the gas. It’s to tune into your surroundings and assess whether or not it is safe to go.
This is exactly how fear works. It’s inviting you to pay attention to what is true right now.
If there is truly a danger, you want to stop. Not go.
Myth # 3: You Must Become Fearless in the Pursuit of Your Dreams
As a quote whore and life coach, I admit, this is a delightful idea.
But, in reality, it just isn’t how we are wired as humans.
Like I said above, fear is our most primitive instinct. We are literally wired to try to keep ourselves safe at all costs. Safety is the primary thing your brain cares about.
Are you alive? Awesome. Brain did it’s job.
Are you dead? And therefore the species does not continue to evolve. Terrible. Brain screwed up.
That’s how the brain works and bypassing that would require a lobotomy.
So, instead of trying to become fearless, what you truly need in order to pursue your dreams is discernment.
What is it telling you? What is it inviting you to pay attention to?
The Truth About Fear
Fear, like all of your emotions, is a signal that will tap you into your inner wisdom. It is inviting you to pay attention to your surroundings and assess whether or not there is a threat.
When you give yourself the space to truly feel and process it, you may find that it is being driven by distorted or fractured ideas about yourself, other people, or life itself. In this case, you will want to call on your courage and be brave.
But, it may also be tuning you into a legitimate danger. Like mine was with that coach.
The only way you’ll know for sure is too allow yourself to feel and truly process it before moving on.
My hope is that by busting these myths, you will come into right relationship with your fear. It is a potent source of wisdom and the only way you can access that wisdom is to tune in and listen to what it’s saying.