We all experience or, try to avoid, facing our fears. Whether it’s something small or something large, whether it’s something internal – our ego, our limiting beliefs, or something external – asking someone out, going to that interview, posting that pic – fear is in constant contact with us.
Fears biologically ingrained into us, via our amygdala. It exists to keep us safe, so we’re able to procreate and continue the lineage. But besides potentially harmful physical fears, fear stems from the ego – the idea of not being good enough, not being worthy, of the judgement, shame and vulnerability that attaches itself to the potential outcome and idea of failure.
Society encourages us to be fearful of failure, that it’s a negative, and we’re instructed of sorts, that when we fail – to identify with that. That we are a failure. Rather than just failing at something. As Tom Bilyeu and numerous other influential entrepreneurs and thought leaders poke at – failures produce and encourage growth – which makes them the most valuable lessons we can endure. Failing isn’t even a negative, it’s a positive – we’ve just been conditioned and led to believe that failing is bad, and this discourages us from trying new things (which is usually scary) and trying again until we master it and no longer fail.
When faced with fear, and having to overcome such perceived obstacles, we tend to put things off. We create excuses, for example, me interviewing people I want to come onto the podcast. I create all types of excuses and limiting beliefs – I’m no one, I have no leverage, what would I talk to them about, I’m not worthy etc etc. And so – I don’t. I don’t reach out, I just stay in my safe bubble of me doing solocasts.
It’s like we know what we have to do, we just don’t put it into action. We don’t bring it into real life, even though we know the magic that exists on the other side of facing our fears. Like it’s that adrenaline and endorphin rush, that sense of pride, accomplishment, awe, excitement, that’s so delicious and addictive. And I feel focusing on this, the outcome, the other side, that feeling, producing an outcome, pushing yourself in the trajectory you want to go – focusing on this, enables us to get through the fear.
As Nietzsche says “he who has a why to live can bear almost any how”.
If we focus on the why, why we want to overcome the fear, we can train ourselves and override the biological mechanism to retreat and play it safe. Because when we don’t face our fears, they just simmer in our consciousness, we re-think about them, play the “coulda shoulda woulda” game and this eats away at ourselves. In our sense of self, as we all want to be courageous, it’s why we love superhero movies and stories. We want to identify with that archetype. The hero. The brave, strong, certain individual.
Attaining this ideal, embodying this archetype requires us to be uncomfortable and unsure and just “feel the fear and do it anyways”.
So what stops us from facing our fears?
Our ego. It fears rejection, fears embarrassment, shame, judgement, and we’re wired to avoid this, as we want to be accepted by our tribe, and to stand out is a threat to your existence. Blending in makes us safe. And our amygdala and brain likes safe. It likes predictable, it likes comfort – hence why personal development and digging into the shadows is scary – it’s not comfortable, and also involves killing parts of ourselves – habits, mannerisms, patterns.
Recognizing when our ego and biological mechanism is flaring up, and preventing us from doing something that we want to do, that involves fear, reminding yourself why you’re wanting to do it, can help to give you the igniting courage to jump in.
For me, what helps me to overcome my fears is what the outcome is – helping our generation. Because we’re sick, physically and psychologically and spiritually, and I feel it’s my purpose to help call in a higher level of living. I do what I do to help our generation realize that what we eat is so powerful in determining how we feel and what we do and achieve in this life. It’s the first step to getting woke in my opinion. It opens channels of self love, self-appreciation, and gives us the energy and vitality to go after what we want to do and achieve our dreams and dream our dreams. And so, I brace myself, nurse my ego and just fucking do it. Do I follow through always? Fuck no. I’m still a little bitch in so many ways, but I actively go after it regardless knowing I’m afraid but keeping in mind my why, which overpowers the resistance.
Stacking with focusing on the aftermath of overcoming the fear, when we get used to fear, get familiar with the discomfort, the resistance, we’re able to stack doing the thing in our favour. We do this by doing small things that scare us and make us afraid each day. It can be anything from, posting that caption, telling someone you think they’re attractive, asking your boss for that time off, having that conversation, speaking your truth, whatever is already going on in your vicinity, practice with that.
Consuming content, reading, watching, immersing yourself in eye opening and thought provoking substance can help your frame of reference and mindset to shift and expand. And in these stories, is embracing the failures and embracing the rejections – check out Impact Theory, Leaders create Leaders and Aubrey Marcus, Tom Bilyeu, Andy Frisella, Gerard Adams, Jay Shetty, Lewis Howes.
We have been bred to be another clog in a machine – fit in this box, fit societies moulds, work all year and live for the weekend and your holidays, then work for 50 years, save that superannuation, live for retirement – we spend our whole lives doing what doesn’t fill and light us up, having expectations on holidays, weekends, other people, creating distance from your true self, and leaving us feeling lost, unfulfilled and full of regrets. It’s like that study that interviewed elderly people on their deathbeds, and they all said their biggest regret was not taking action, not changing circumstances, just accepting. No one regrets trying something, FOMO.
When we don’t fit this ideal of what constitutes a “good life”, you feel like you’re failing. Like you’re not doing it “right” because we’re conditioned to follow this 1 path of life – school, job, partner, babies, retire, die. And then these inner battles arise, because we’re unsure. Our brain is telling us 1 thing because of what we’ve been conditioned to expect and aspire to have in life, vs our heart which is what our soul and what we, truly we, want to do, without the external societal and cultural ideals ingrained into us.
What did we want to do when we were kids? That passion, that existed before we were patterned to look for a stable job with a good income, with reliable hours, that’s safe. We’re conditioned to play it safe, as it continues the patterns and ideas that run the predictable landscape of society.
We’re conditioned to always approach with caution, if we’re unsure – we usually go towards no. Because we’re wired to be in the familiar as our brain is lazy and likes knowing its surroundings. We’re creatures of habit. And with change, comes fear, because it disrupts this comfy pattern.
The process of doing new things, stimulating change – is scary. Even having new conversations with yourself, going deeper with yourself, internal as well as external. Personal development is scary, because you don’t know what’s on the other side of that wall you’ve had locked up for years.
With facing our fears, we need to be kinder to ourselves.
We’ve only been real people for like a couple millions years, and in evolution terms it’s a blink. We expect so much from ourselves, as a species, let alone as a millennial. Like we’re just starting out. Forgiving ourselves, for trying, for failing, for succeeding, for making bad decisions, for feeling afraid, for expressing our fears, whatever it is surrounding this topic – of fear, rejection, shame, vulnerability – forgive. And accept the darkness along with the light.
We’re always encouraged by society and this ideal of “constant self improvement” (usually through consumption), to always have to be progressing, and moving forward, and growing, and working on ourselves, society neglects to tell us to celebrate and accept the low times, the shit times, and it is part of having a human experience. They’ll be high and lows, light and darkness, and just anchor ourselves into the now and live how we want to.
When fear pops up, see it for what it is – be aware of where it is stemming from. What are we afraid of? Where was there an experience or a moment that has affirmed and cemented this idea (and fear) in us, its imprinted into our thought and behaviour patterns.
Once upon a time, we were told / shown that ‘this’ hurts our ego, and so we have fear because we associate that with rejection and pain. We’ve built up our armour to protect ourselves and our ego from the rejection, shame, vulnerability and failures.
Why are we afraid of rejection? Because it confirms we’re not good enough? It affirms our familiar negative self talk, and that’s not a good feel. But that whole dialogue, we need to flip. It’s amazing. It’s amazing to try and get rejected. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. Recognize it as the ego getting hurt. And hurting the ego is good. It weakens it and lets the truth and love out shine it. Like when a baby is trying to crawl or walk, it doesn’t fall down and be like “nah, I suck at this crawling thing I’m out”. It just keeps going, and when the people around us, are encouraging us to keep trying, keep going, like our parents did, is the secret sauce.
Surrounding yourself with encouraging, supporting amazing people who embrace and hi 5 you over the failures and tries helps you to keep facing fears. That childlike mentality, of feeling it, and doing it anyways. That “who gives a fuck” attitude.
Don’t attach yourself, your worth, your power to a fear, an event, a failure etc. Leave it as an isolated event that you tried. Don’t weave it into who you are.
Don’t compare yourself to others, this makes us afraid, because we feel like we’re falling behind, not as advanced, not as _____, and we feel unworthy, we feel not enough, and we create fear around even trying to go for what we want, because we’ve affirmed that, through this process, why try, it won’t happen.
Fear of staying stagnant. Fear just playing it safe. Fear same shit different day.
Rejection is part of life, Fear is part of life, it’s just equipping ourselves and getting used to the feeling of fear, and rewriting the internal monologue, that’s telling us it’s scary – because someone rejected us, and we then let our self worth ride on one decision, outcome, person, comment.
When facing our fears, don’t take anything personally (from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements). We’re afraid usually because of judgement from others, that stops us, because of shame, because of the fear of being seen as other, as not belonging, which again, is also genetically wired into us because living harmoniously in tribes requires us to trust, and we trust what is like us.
So, why not? Why not go after what you want, that’s on the other side of facing our fears.
Anchor yourself in what’s on the other side, whether it’s success (growth) or failure (growth). Bite off small scary things to do often. Surround yourself with amazing people. Discover your inner drive. Acknowledge your shadows. Embrace experience, and don’t take anything too seriously or personally.
We’re all afraid of the unknown – we can anticipate, create expectations, but we don’t know. And so, when the brain sends out a distress signal, and we’re flooded with hormones, adrenaline, cortisol and we have the physical primal response – BREATHE. Breathe, calm the nervous system. Box breath for 6-10 breaths, and lean in.
So much love xoxox
Fear is also so out of scale, it’s just an attack on our ego. Yeah there’s primal fear, if a bear is after you, but the tangible psychological fear, isn’t going to harm our physical being, just our ego. We’re not going to die from it.
Eliza is a Holistic Nutritionist and is obsessed with helping millennial’s experience living at a higher level.
Her relaxed new age approach and deep understanding of nutrition and biology sees her empowering and coaching individuals to understand that their health is the ultimate asset and facilitates living an authentic juicy life.
Eliza is also currently studying a Masters of Human Nutrition alongside a Bachelor of Naturopathy.
Article and images contributed by Eliza Hedley