The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear
In the next chapters of The Art of Letting Go, I will present a list of attachments. Letting them go is guaranteed to make your life easier and happier. Each example will include some activities and I promise that paying attention and doing the exercises will produce results. Also, I will add some inspirational quotes about each kind of attachment. You can use these quotes to remind yourself it is best to get these attachments out of your system, because they only bring disappointment, sadness and grief. So acknowledge them and let them go!
Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out
– Karl Augustus Menninger
Letting go of fears
Fear is a belief that something will turn out badly in the future. When people are afraid, they go in their mind to the future and imagine a negative outcome. Many people are attached to their beliefs because they think that being afraid of something will reduce the chances of it happening or even guarantee it will not happen. In a sense, they are trying to control the future. In fact, nobody can do that. We were not born fortunetellers and maybe for a reason. There is no need to try and do it in our mind, so just let go of the desire to do it.
Being afraid is only natural. We have instincts that trigger fear to protect us from danger. Unfortunately, while those instincts were meant to protect us from threats to our survival, many of us today consider discomfort and stress as dangerous enough to trigger a “fight or flight” response. When we are afraid, we react as if we are in danger and our reaction is not proportional. After all, we will not die if things do not turn out the way we want them to or when someone is not happy with what we are doing.
Fear is supposed to be triggered by a real risk for your life. If you are afraid, but there is not risk for life, it is better to let that fear go.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
How to let go of fear
Here are 10 questions that will help you examine you fears and help you to let go of them easily.
- What is your fear? Make a list of 100 things that you are afraid of. Think of all the areas of your life: family, friends, health, money, relationships, work, study, loved one, partnership, dreams, hobbies, time, skills and even global fears. Notice that one fear leads to another and that there are some connections between them. Finding your fears and recognizing them is a wonderful way to get to know yourself. Make sure you write the list on paper. If you are tempted to say, “I can do it in my head”, you need to let go of the fear of facing your fears. Write them down on paper or use the computer to do it, but make sure your fears are recorded so you can do the rest of the activities.
- Rate the fears from 1-100. One problem we all have is that we include in the word “fear” all kinds of fears. When we are a little bit afraid, maybe just worried, and when we are extremely afraid, in panic even, we call both of them “fear”. We do this because of the limitation of the language. Rating our fears is a great way to overcome that. You must find your own rating system and decide which fears are just 10 out of 100 and which of them are 100 or seem sometimes 110.
- What happened in the past that made you afraid of this? Most fears have an origin. Something in the past that has happened to you, something that has happened to someone else, something somebody has said or something you have been exposed to by personal connection or through the media that has been planted in your head. Whatever it was, find out the source of your fear. Sometimes, it is a very small thing that someone said when you were vulnerable and it is better to let it go instead of letting it control you. About 20 years ago, someone in my family said to me that whenever I talk about Eden, I brag and show off and that made the other person feel bad. During my coaching with my mentor coach, I realized that it had been such a painful experience for me that I had stopped saying good things about my children in fear that others might feel it puts them down. That was difficult, because I have lots of great things to say about my kids. With the help of my coach, I learned that I did not really understand that it had been the other person’s insecurity that had made them feel bad whenever I had said good things about Eden and that I should not expect everyone I meet to be as insecure. So I started sharing with clients and readers stories about my kids and my family and the fear was gone.
- Think of the fear and try to recognize the feeling you have inside your head, stomach, heart, etc. Are you shaking? Do you find it hard to sleep? Do you feel that your fear takes over your mind? Learn to recognize the physical reaction you have towards that fear. People are different and you need to learn your “fight or flight” response. Again, if you combine this with the rating, you will be able to recognize what your feelings mean.
- Do you know 100% that it will happen in the future? In situations of trying to predict the future, this is a very good question to ask. It helps realize that the scary imaginary future is just in our head.
- Do you have one example when things did not happen that way? Again, this will help you realize that maybe there is another way of dealing with these situations and getting out of them safely.
- What was special about that time?
- Can you replicate the circumstances of that one time when things happened differently? Try to focus on things within your responsibility and your power to control.
- What is the worst thing that could happen? People often react disproportionately when something happens and it creates a panic reaction that is not doing any good to anyone involved. Since many of the fears are attempts to be fortunetellers, this question is a good fortuneteller diversion and helps reduce the panic.
- What can you do right now that will make you rate this fear differently? Remember, however little a change you make, action speaks louder than words and the only way to let go is to move from where you are now.
Here is a list of quotes about fear that I like very much. I hope you will find gems that you can get inspiration from.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will
– James Stephens
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown
– H. P. Lovecraft
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
– Frank Herbert, Dune
Fear is only as deep as the mind allows
– Japanese Proverb
Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not
– Virgil Thomson
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy
– Dale Carnegie
And until next time when I suggest letting go of another attachment, be happy and may the Force be with you,
This post is part of the series The Art of Letting Go:
- The Art of Letting Go: Attachments
- The Art of Letting Go: Fear
- The Art of Letting Go: Trapped by Labels
- The Art of Letting Go: Be Right or Be Kind
- The Art of Letting Go: Living up to Others’ Expectations
- The Art of Letting Go: Control
- The Art of Letting Go: Blame and Excuses
- The Art of Letting Go: Painful Past
- The Art of Letting Go: Negative Self-Talk
- The Art of Letting Go: Resistance to Change