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Life practices: Moving beyond fear

(A follow-up to my last blog past, “Fear and Sitting,” with a focus on what you can do to move past fear.)

Over the years, I’ve discovered many ways to deal with fear—for myself and for my clients. Here are a few that I’m reminded of when I watch William.

1) Feel

I’ve found that the best way to get beyond fear is to let myself feel it.

Here’s what to do:
a) Acknowledge that you’re afraid or anxious. Notice what that feels like in your body. (If you don’t consciously acknowledge fear and anxiety, they will unconsciously run the show. That’s usually when you sabotage yourself.)

b) File these bodily feelings away in your memory. Any time you notice similar feelings, ask yourself, “Am I feeling fear or anxiety?”

2) Take baby steps

Instead of trying to push my fear away, I take huge (fear-inducing!) goals (like “write my novel”) and break them into baby steps—actions so small they don’t trigger (much) fear. I do those steps one by one, focusing only on that one action. (When I started doing this, it changed my life! I started making real progress on goals I’d been struggling with for years.)

It helps to combine this practice with the practice of feeling your fears. If big, apocalyptic fears start coming up, tell yourself, “Yes, I’m afraid. And I’m just going to make a list of people to e-mail.” “Yes, I’m afraid. And I’m just going to outline the points I want to make in this e-mail.” “Yes, I’m afraid. And I’m just going to write a bad rough draft.” Step by baby step, you’ll go from someone who dreams to someone who’s living her dream.

3) Fill up with joy

There’s nothing like a baby who’s showing happiness with every ounce of his body. (As a mother, I’ve realized that there is absolute truth to the words “bundle of joy”!)

William reminds me that filling up with happiness is one of the best ways to dispel fear. Focus on what brings you joy—and really let it fill you. This isn’t just a little positive thinking here and there—it’s a conscious decision to immerse yourself, heart and body and mind, in happiness.

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