When was the last time you felt afraid?
At first thought, you might be racking your brain trying to think back to a traumatic experience you went through months or even years ago.
But I invite you to pause and be completely honest with yourself, and you will likely find that even just today you have experienced fear multiple times.
Because the truth is- Most of us experience fear on a daily basis:
- We fear speaking up and being honest
- We fear being vulnerable
- We fear being judged or rejected
- We fear failure
- We fear losing our job or home
- We fear we don’t look good enough
- We fear we aren’t enough
- We fear change
- We fear getting hurt
It’s no secret that the news media uses fear to draw us in and keep us watching (even though we want to look away) or that politicians employ fear to get more votes.
Parents also use fear as a tactic to keep their kids in line and religious leaders use fear to keep their congregations in order.
The pandemic has also brought us a whole new layer of fear and anxiety…
- What is going to happen to our country?
- Will I be judged for my healthcare choices?
- Is my loved one going to die?
- How will I homeschool my children while I work full-time?
- How do I help myself and my family through isolation?
Yes it’s true… Fear has become our “new normal”.
What Is Fear?
Fear is a basic human emotion that is hard-wired into our systems to protect us. When we sense danger, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and prepares our bodies for the “fight or flight” response where we experience symptoms like…
- Increased heart rate
- Blurry vision
- Shallow breathing
- Feelings of panic
- Blood pressure increases
These reactions are immediate, automatic, and instinctual. Fear is beneficial to our survival, but irrational fears can hold us back from living our best lives.
The Negative Impacts of Fear on Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Health
When we sense danger, our bodies release stress hormones that slow down our bodily functions. Anything that is not needed to survive is shut down so that we can survive the perceived threat.
Fear weakens our immune system and has been known to cause gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers. It’s even been linked to accelerated aging and premature death!
Fear can debilitate us and heavily influence our actions and decisions and even our habits. In many ways, fear is a threat to our existence and the effect on our personal lives can be devastating.
Fear can be like a prison in which we place ourselves. It can feel just as real and confining as any brick and mortar structure, but the prison is in our minds. There are no walls, barbed wire, or physical barriers to confine us.
Is Fear Holding You Back?
Fear can keep us in jobs we hate or relationships that are toxic.
It can keep us from sharing ideas or trying something new.
It can keep us from going to the doctor or seeking help when we need it the most.
It can keep us from speaking up when we need to share our truth.
It can stop us from living our purpose or enjoying our passion.
Fear can literally ruin our life and keep us from living our dreams.
Fear of change or fear of the unknown tends to be based on the stories we tell ourselves- both real and imagined.
Often, we rehash old stories rooted in fear instead of being open to what’s next.
We get stuck in the past instead of investing in the future.
Somewhere along the line, we believe the lies we tell ourselves and fall into a victim mentality. We lost our power forgetting that we are in control of our lives.
But the truth is that choosing to wallow in our own self-pity will get us nowhere.
My Journey Through Fear
When I was going through my divorce, I was afraid.
Worry about the unknown consumed me…
How would I support myself and my four children?
How would I manage all of the responsibilities by myself?
What would happen if I got sick?
Would anyone hire me after being out of the workforce for so long?
What would be the effect on my children?
When my health started to derail, I was afraid. I felt like I was on a runaway roller coaster and that I’d never be able to regain control.
I worried about how far off track my health was and what horrible diagnosis may be waiting for me around the corner.
I was afraid that I’d have to give up many foods that I loved to eat in favor of an elimination diet.
I felt afraid that I’d lose my athletic abilities by having to avoid high-intensity workouts in order to allow my body to heal.
I feared going out or being in a social situation where I’d have to skip having a drink with dinner or be unable to indulge in things like pizza or dessert due to a wheat sensitivity.
I was worried about what I’d tell people and how they’d respond.
I was worried about the time and energy I’d need to devote to the healing process and if I had it in me to do so.
Most of all, I feared failure.
What if I could not do all the things I needed to do and my health declined even further?
These were all real fears that my clients and I have faced.
Can you relate?
I agonized for months about these things but soon realized that my fears had consumed me and were holding me back.
I had to remind myself that God is so much bigger than any of my fears. He is for me, not against me. I needed to cling to my faith and trust that God had me and my children.
Faith always defeats fear.
How I Let Go of Fear and Found Peace (and How You Can Too!)
Amidst all of my worry, I forgot that I have overcome my fears in the past and found success and freedom.
I forgot that I can do hard things and that I have the strength to do it again.
It took me a minute to rally the troops within, but once I chose to focus on the opportunity to get healthy and feel my best, I was able to reclaim my power once again!
I knew that my fear had a positive intention – to keep me safe. I also knew that some of the fear helped me to focus on what I needed to do to heal my body. My first step was letting go of the irrational fear that imprisoned me and figure out a healing plan I could follow.
Each day was about putting one foot forward and doing the next ”right” thing. For me, finding a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and making the appropriate diet and lifestyle changes was crucial!
Functional lab testing has been a game-changer for me. Through it, I was able to uncover healing opportunities and begin taking the appropriate steps to reclaim my health and life! Finally getting the answers I needed to make informed decisions about my health helped me to heal my body naturally.
I needed to be brave and stay strong. Giving up some of my favorite foods that were causing an inflammatory reaction was hard, but I truly wanted to allow my body to heal!
I had to remind myself why I was making these changes and encourage myself along the way. It was all about learning how to make my fear work FOR me instead of AGAINST me.
Yes, changing my daily habits and routines was tough at first because the unknown is scary. There was some trial and error and nothing went smoothly or perfectly.
Our brains gravitate towards predictable outcomes, and we tend to repeat undesirable behaviors over and over even when they aren’t good for us. It’s because our brains know that these things are survivable, so we repeat them even when these thought patterns, habits, behaviors, and routines are no longer serving us.
We have a choice in the way we show up in the world. We can create our own reality! Sure, there will be outcomes beyond our control, but we have to put expectations aside and focus on what we can control.
Next Time You’re Consumed By Fear Do These 5 Things
We all know how scary it can feel to be overcome with fear.
Next time you are stuck in a fear rut try doing some of these things to help you connect with God and find your inner peace:
- Journal. Write about everything you feel afraid of. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, just write freely without judgment. This will help you get those thoughts out of your head and help you to make sense of them.
- Get a stack of notecards and write down your favorite bible verses and quotes. Place them throughout your home, car, office, etc. so that you can see them every time you feel afraid.
- Meditate and focus on your breathing to get back into a parasympathetic (calming, rest, and digest) state.
- Try to imagine things going well instead of fixating on everything that could go wrong.
- Turn off the news and do something that brings you joy – play with your kids, go for a walk in nature, listen to a happy song, call a friend, read a light-hearted book, or watch a funny movie.
Remember: We’re a product of our choices, not victims of our circumstances. We all face trials and tribulations. No one said that life would be easy, but I truly believe that heartache, struggle, pain, and failure are the BEST teachers if you are willing to learn.
Stay open to what life has for you and have mercy, grace, and compassion for yourself in the process.
Finding a way to let go of your fear is the first step in taking back your power and creating some forward momentum.
We have to shift our mindset away from fear and focus on the opportunity before us. We have to have faith that God will give us just what we need to make it through whatever challenges or hardships we encounter.
Our faith in God is our freedom from fear, but we have to continue to seek it!
We each have the ability to imagine a different and better future…
By acknowledging our options, we can begin to re-image our circumstances and the opportunities and possibilities before us.
Be open to what God has for you and connect with the power of the Holy Spirit within you. You have what it takes to do something new, to be brave, and to live your best life!
This has proven true in my own life in respect to becoming a single mom and in overcoming my own health struggles. I’m so grateful that I dared greatly and took the first step. It was worth it!
Letting go of fear is the first step. What fears are you ready to let go of today?