There is so much out there right now about ignoring your fears, releasing them, powering through them, not letting them hold you back, etc, etc.  But what about actually listening to them?  Fear is a warning sign that something is going on that you need to attend to.  It’s not some external warning system trying to force you into or out of something, its You.  So when you have fear, pay attention.  The question is, what kind of attention, and what do you do once you’ve paid it?

Fear does not come in one color and is not one-size-fits-all.  There is actual fear of harm which comes from being stalked by a predator, getting caught in front of a speeding car, or being confronted a hungry swarm of piranha.  Then there is fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of negative repercussions, fear of loss, fear of punishment, the list goes on and on.  Some fears are truly made in the mind.  They have nothing to do with what is happening in the now and only apply to one set of outcomes from any given situation.  Some fears come from the knowledge that we will change if the event occurs and since we don’t know what the change will be we imagine the worst case scenario.

Paying attention to these fears is good.  It allows your body, mind and emotions to let up on the pressure so you can come out of the fight/flight response.  The trick is to not allow the fears to be right or to control the situation once you’ve paid attention to them.  Again, they are only a warning system.  If the danger is imminent, of course fight or flee.  But if the danger hasn’t occurred yet, then there is no need to take action in this moment so take the time to investigate what is causing the alert.  It may not be what you think.  Fears that repeat over and over again, just like dating the wrong kind of person over and over again, usually stem, not from events, but from internal perceptions that are creating your vision of what you are experiencing.  Instead of trying to deal with the facts of this particular fear right now, take a moment to allow this fear to lead you inside to find the source of the fear.  Because it’s a long held belief or world view that is supporting you in being afraid and aiding in causing you to repeat this pattern over and over again.  If you can heal that issue or worldview, then the experiences will stop because you’ll see things and act in new ways.

Fear can lead you to discover things about yourself and the world around you that you never knew before.  If you step back from them and look at them from a distance.  They may not be as irrational as you think.  Maybe you are more sensitive than others to certain situations and so have a fear of being forced into them.  Good to know.  This is something you conquer, it’s something you acknowledge about yourself.  The upside, being sensitive means you see and feel more of the world than most and you can use that in art, music, health professions, etc.  The downside, you won’t be comfortable in large, loud group settings and get over stimulated easily.  So limit how much time and how often you get into those types of situations, make sure you set up an escape excuse before you go, and don’t beat yourself up when you feel better out of the noise.  You’re fine and so are all of those who stay.

Let fear guide you, don’t let it control you.  Fear is a great teacher if you allow it to be.