Is fear something that holds you back from realising your true potential? Could it be that one of your tendencies is swerving away from unlocking your fear, and moving on in your life?
Way back in the late 1990’s I received a powerful lesson about overcoming fear. I was doing some research in Canada about First Nations’ involvement in conservation programs when I met this inspiring Native American leader. We got on really well and exchanged our contact details.
A year later I found myself back in touch with him on a return trip to North America. We were to go on a travelling journey together and visit a spiritual school on the way. He picked me up at the airport and off we drove to some unknown destination, to stay with his friends and do a workshop about Buddhism – so I thought.
Driving down the highway to our destination my sense of adventure, and lightheartedness was suddenly interrupted when he put a tape on in his car and said ‘here’s a teaching from the spiritual school we are going to’. As I listened to a very strange voice talking about things that seemed unrelated to Buddhism, I lost it and went into a state of fear. I felt paralysed, unable to think clearly, and my trust in him had completely vanished. My only thought was ‘how could I get away from this ‘NOW’.
I actually looked at my car door and contemplated opening it and jumping out, before realising that we were driving at 100 kilometers per hour and it was getting dark. Instead, I shrank down in the seat and glazed over while my thoughts contemplated abduction and other scary thoughts.
All of a sudden my fear panic-stricken thoughts flipped from fear to becoming curious about why I had become so paralysed with fear. It all happened because I managed to observe my fearful reaction, and then became curious as to why I was so fearful. This new state of mind gave me the courage to calm down and reason my circumstances.
Meanwhile, I noticed that my friend was laughing at me, and I started to relax even more, and to see how fear had impacted me.
How does this experience translate into a global lesson that you can use in your life when you are experiencing fear?
It is all about cultivating curiosity and courage as a way to shift out of fear.
Fear takes hold of us in all sorts of ways. We often fear people that are different to us, or we fear that we are not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough.
When fear comes into your life, see the fear and then step back in your thoughts to observe your reaction to the situation.
At first, it may be difficult to observe your own reaction to fear, but awareness is the first step and is then followed by a desire to overcome that fear.
This lesson has stayed with me ever since, and I have used it in many areas of my life. You too can use curiosity as the switch to move you out of fear, and then find the courage to see and open the door to a new and improved attitude about your situation.