A friend of mine recently shared with me that her fears were just skinny little things looking for a good meal.

Wow! Words of truth!

Yet despite the reality of fear’s deprived and ravenous nature, what do we do? We invite these fears inside, sit them down at the table, take their order, and spend most of the day feeding them until they loom before us larger than life. And we do this at the expense of the betterment, health, and joy of our own spirits.

We Empower Our Own Fears

With the exception of instances of immediate physical danger, fear will never (and you can hold me to this) have to do with the present moment. Fear can surface as silent as an invisible undercurrent to a deafening cacophony in our heads. We get stressed and worried about the something “out there,” “up head,” or about what is “going to happen” or “not going to happen,” and on and on. If you look closely at these fears, you can recognize an assumption about what will or will not happen if that something becomes reality. These assumptions are limiting, constrictive, and suffocating; they are our own self-imposed prisons.

My fears are stifling. They all have to do with presumed labels of something being “good or bad”, “winning or losing,” “elation or depression,” and all my fears really do is shut me down. We could choose to exchange one fear for another. Our fears are not brilliant. They are not worldly or glamorous. They seem threatening. They tighten around us as though they are dire, treacherous, and specific, but they are not. They are trivial and generic. When faced head-on, fears (like the bully I endured when I started a new school in fifth grade) will generally shrink back, unfed into the shadows.

Stripping Fear from Its Reign

The hidden truth is that you are, in essence, magnificent, perfectly whole, and radiantly fine in this moment. You are incredibly capable and purposeful in this moment (and will be in the one that comes after, and the one that comes after that), and the one thing to be aware and cautious of is your own thinking.

Now, when I feel fear creeping up, I make a concerted effort to observe what is present within me at that particular moment. What is it exactly that is feeling threatened? What part of me is rushing to fix and to solve and to manipulate and to change what is going on? Is there something in me that feels I need to take or avoid action?

And as small as it may sound, the first thing I do is to remind myself to breathe. In these moments, I often find my shoulders tensed up around my ears and my breathing artificial and shallow. I take stock of my physical body, and address what needs my focused attention and self-care. I assess my spiritual standing. Have I gotten quiet today? Have I connected in prayer and meditation? Have I been outside? Have I spent time with my loved ones or pets? Have I cultivated gratitude and acceptance today? There are many methods in which to get centered in the present moment, but these are just a few that work for me.

After this, I look at the evidence. I look at the facts. I take the emotion out of the equation and look at reality. If there is fear because I am frightened to take action, I am now able to move forward (if I still feel moving forward is appropriate), fear be damned. I am now able to see the fear for what it is – the façade of an inescapable enclosure forever tightening in on me, and although it may now, still feel pressing, I have enough experience to know it is a shadow dancer and nothing more. So many of my blessings have arisen from taking action IN SPITE of the fear. So many miracles have come from ACTION in the MIDST OF my fear (not in the absence).

If I am still uncertain how to proceed, I acknowledge and celebrate that as well. There are times when after considering the facts, the guidance and counsel of others, and my own spiritual compass, not doing something can be just as powerful and, often times, more difficult than taking action. Because, deep down inside, if I have made my decision based on an awake consciousness and spirit, then there has been a miracle within; growth is always borne from awareness.

Regaining the Upper Hand over Fear

At the end of the day, I am tired of feeding these fears. I refuse to engage with these phantom bullies that I help to sustain. Life is too precious to waste one more second in a solo-war. I have yet to perfect confronting my fears head-on, but I have seen the value of even the minimal result of waking up to my fears and self-constructed prisons and doing something different than I have in the past, And this incalculable value is the very essence of change.