Fear is a powerful emotion. It is so strong, instinctual and deeply woven into the way we interact with our world. A lot of spiritual teachers and psychologists say that fear and love are the only real human emotions and that every other emotion comes from them.
Fear is also a primitive emotion. It is the anticipation that something bad is going to happen – like a sabre tooth tiger jumping out of the bushes. These are the things our primitive brain had to worry about.
Unfortunately, we often allow our fears to stop us from embracing positive experiences, accepting change and getting more from life. Dwelling on fears that are not grounded in reality holds us back. As Jack Cantwell said, “Everything you want is on the other side of your fears.” If you are wondering how to overcome your fears and create a more meaningful, richer life, here are 5 things to consider.
The first step in overcoming any obstacle is to name and own it. If we name the source of our fear, we can embrace it and challenge its power. This process involves honesty and courage.
If you are afraid of getting old, ask yourself why. If it is because you are not living the life you want, you can create a plan. If you are afraid of poor health, there are plenty of things you can do in terms of exercise, nutrition and social interaction. Our fears love to live in the shadows of our hearts. When we bring them into the light, we can deal with them in a positive and life affirming way.
Fear is often made worse when it is connected to an underlying anger. Many women in their sixties grew up as “good girls” and taught to not express their anger. Emotional outbursts had a social stigma. Getting angry is a natural response to a fear. We may not have a physical enemy to fight, but, we can treat our fears as if they are tangible and defeatable.
I am reminded of the quote by Dylan Thomas “Do not go gentle into that good night…” Here, he encourages us to fight for what we believe in. Expressing passion with positive energy is better than holding the anxiety and stress inside.
Older women tend to be adverse to reaching out and admitting a weakness in themselves. This may be a response that we developed over years of having to do things for ourselves. It could also be the result of rejection. Fear of loneliness or isolation can be overcome if you reach out to other women and share your concerns.
Doing volunteer work or simply getting involved in conversations online will diffuse anxiety. Simply by getting a new perspective on something you can understand why it has been haunting you.
Every skill in life can perfected with practice. If you are afraid of a particular situation, such as speaking in public or going on a date, the best way to overcome it is to do that thing again and again and again. Watch your emotions each time, course correct and make changes.
Fearlessness involves developing a tough skin. Be aware you are going to fall down a few times and welcome rejection and mistakes as part of the learning experience. When you are “doing” something proactive and positive, you, and not your fears, are in control.
Sometimes we think that our fears are specific when, in reality, what we fear most is change. When we realize this, many of our fears lose their sting.
Some worries, like the fear of failure, will haunt you until you find something you can succeed at. Learning how to switch gears and embrace change is one of the most powerful ways to overcome fear. Don’t waste your precious energy worrying. Embrace the changes in your life with passion and create a new and wonderful life!
How have you overcome your fears? Have you made a major change in your life that helped you deal with your anxieties? Please join the conversation.
Watch my interview with Gretchen Rubin about finding happiness in life after 60.