This is an excellent question! We hear about how we’re supposed to face our fears, but we also hear that we should listen to ourselves and fear means danger is up ahead. So how do we know when to face our fears and when to change direction if we are afraid?
There are clearly two types of fears—the fear that indicates we are facing something in ourselves that, if faced, will lead us to the other side, with expanded comfort zones and improved lives, and the fear that indicates that we’re going the wrong direction in life and things are only going to keep getting worse if we keep going this direction. So fear can either mean we’re going the right direction or the wrong direction. How do we distinguish between the two?
Here is the key:
1) Imagine that you feel everything you want to feel in your life in a year or two or three or five from now—e.g. happy, valuable, loved, accomplished, successful, worthy, connected, good, calm, respected, excited, alive, etc.
2) Then ask yourself, “How would I feel if I had kept going this direction that I’ve been going?” (…meaning how would you feel if you’re still in this job in a month or a year or whatever, if you’re in your new business, if you’re still in a relationship with the same person, if you’re in a relationship with a different person, if you’re still living in this house, if you’re living in a different house, etc.)
3) If you feel like you would feel good, you’re going the right direction, and facing these fears will lead you through to the other side, to a place of greater confidence.
If you feel like you would feel bad, you’re going the wrong direction, and facing these fears will lead you to more and more reasons to be afraid until it’s so bad that you absolutely have to change direction.
There is another element to this: When we’re going the wrong direction, and our fears increase to tell us this, we tend to justify this by saying it’s the way we have to go, or it’s the only way to fix and improve things, or it’s just the way things are. But what we’re really doing in this case is avoiding facing the seemingly greater fears surrounding facing the unknown and moving forward toward everything we really want. If we’re staying in relatively familiar territory in order to avoid facing something completely new and therefore scary, we’re going the wrong direction.
If we keep the unknown unknown, it will remain scary—filled with our doubts and fears—and we will be inclined to avoid it, almost no matter how bad our fears get due to our going the wrong direction. Ideally we don’t just wait until our fears from going the wrong direction become greater than our fears of the unknown before we turn around. Although this is what we often do.
If we simply imagine what it would be like if we faced our fears of the unknown and ended up on the other side—and we imagine that it actually went well and everything turned out as we’d ideally like and not as we fear—then we can make the unknown, unfamiliar, and scary into something known, familiar, comfortable, safe, and good. If it is possible to imagine it as good in a way that it truly feels good, your fears will melt away and it will be clear that you’re going the right direction. Your fears of the unknown will become so much less (ultimately nonexistent) than your fears from going the wrong direction that it will be easy to turn around and go the direction toward everything you truly want.
If you’d like further help distinguishing your fears and determining which direction is the right way to go to get what you truly want, or if you’d like help facing your fears of the unknown and getting through to the other side where everything you truly want exists, contact me for a free session now and we’ll get started right away!