Ask yourself what role F.E.A.R plays in your life?
We all, at some point in our lives, perhaps even daily, experience FEAR. London yoga and meditation teacher, David Lefebvre Sell introduced last week’s yoga class in Canary Wharf with an invitation to consider whether FEAR played a part in our yoga practice or, in our lives for that matter. For me, the headstand and handstand are terrifying and when faced with them in class I shy away from the asana, shrinking back into my school playground persona standing on the sidelines, watching others, telling myself I can’t do it.
David’s suggestion to consider the role of FEAR got me thinking, both during and after class, about how big a part it actually plays in our lives, often pervading our thoughts, actions, words and beliefs.
It’s easy for the mind to get trapped in FEAR which can exacerbate suffering
A new health challenge recently showed up in my life and having not experienced it before, I was afraid. The fact is, no matter how brave we think we are, it’s really easy to get trapped in a state of FEAR, which can exacerbate suffering and I’m a firm believer that what you focus on, you tend to get more of. My go to solutions to calm my mind at such times are meditation, yoga and positive thinking but I still find it hard not to feel afraid. I know that I’m not alone in this. In our ask google everything world it is difficult not to search online for answers, only the answers are generic and not specific to us and we get sucked into believing what we read is happening to us when the likelihood is, it isn’t. Sound familiar? I’m sure you’d agree that doing so only serves to compound the FEAR of the unknown and our minds work overtime when in information overload.
F.E.A.R = False Evidence Appearing Real
Whilst a certain dose of fear is necessary in life to keep us out of danger, it is also responsible for holding us back from so much. The late Wayne Dyer, mindfulness guru and Hay House author and speaker defined the F.E.A.R acronym as ‘false evidence appearing real.’ This sums up in four words how empty and unreal fear can be. So, why then do we spend so much time, effort and angst wrapped up in fear? Much of it is no doubt learnt behaviour. When we are in a fearful state it is like we are frozen in time, unable to live in the moment. Instead, we are focussed on the fear of what may or may not happen in the future. Fearful states are rarely present moment states unless, of course, you are being attacked by a bear in the wild or frightened for your life! FEAR in situations like that, is both healthy and necessary. If, however, FEAR plagues you when you don’t want it, learn to question it – play with the potential of letting it stick around or booting it out of your life if you believe it holds you back.
Pay attention to what you FEAR and learn to live more in the moment
As most of us, in this day and age, are lucky enough to be born free, FEAR would seem to be a learnt behaviour. Whilst we might spend much of our adult lives plagued by it, young children appear not to suffer from it as much. On a recent long haul flight I observed a group of toddlers continuing to laugh and play during a pretty turbulent patch. I meanwhile, was clutching onto the armrests, guzzling down a G and T. My guess is that they hadn’t been taught to fear flying, they hadn’t been sucked into what Wayne would badge as false evidence that we see as real. Children most likely don’t know FEAR in such situations because they’ve yet to learn it. This provides some solace that there might be a way to unwind the FEAR that is so engrained in our natures.
“Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain” Mark Twain
Mark Twain encouraged us to face up to our fears and to go a step further by doing the thing we FEAR the most. That is certainly a brave and very positive way to throw off the shackles of fear – taking tangible steps to conquer it. I would urge caution in relation to your actions, maybe take a few baby steps to start with. I don’t want to be responsible for encouraging an army of reluctant bungee jumpers! It could be as simple as challenging your mindset of fear, reframing your point of view by imagining yourself doing the very thing you fear. With a positive mind it is easier to take the first step, just far enough to shatter the illusion of FEAR and propel you forward by doing.
Bullet diary homework – FEAR combatting strategy to move forward with COURAGE
If you want to experience less FEAR in your life, why not start taking steps to achieve that. If there is something you’ve been wanting to do but you’ve been too scared to do it, start by making a list of the things you fear the most and three steps you can take in the next 3 months to overcome that FEAR. For me, one of my biggest fears (ok, that’s on top of the headstand/handstand) is driving, so here is my 1,2,3:
1.Reread the highway code
2.Sit in a stationary car (handbrake firmly on!), in the driver’s seat and familiarise myself with the controls
3. Book that driving lesson.
Taking positive steps to combat FEAR arms you with courage and provides a pathway leading away from the false evidence towards the real you.
Please do email me (including photos) and let me know how you get on. I would love to build some kind of collage of a collective ‘overcoming fear’.
‘STARE F.E.A.R STRAIGHT IN THE FACE, UNDRESS IT THEN QUESTION IT’S MOTIVE. IS IT HERE TO SERVE YOU OR TO HOLD YOU BACK? IF IT DOESN’T SERVE YOU BID IT FAREWELL’- Jennie Griffiths