Movement Four: Facing Fear
Fear is a natural emotion and helps us to survive. Think of prey animals … if they weren’t afraid they would likely not live as long as more fearful and cautious animals. Being fearless is similar to being foolhardy.
And yet, fear can also hold us back in ways that are not helpful to us. All life forms occasionally need to take a risk, and move through fear to try something new or challenging. We humans also need to take risks and do things that scare us, moving through fear.
So it’s a tricky balancing act. We need to face our fears, and decide if they are grounded in wisdom or in folly. Are they justified fears, and is there anything we can do to be better prepared in case they come true? Or are they the kind of fear that is just holding us back? How can we move through that fear? Explore these questions, and more, in the exercises that follow.
“First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence.”― Rumi
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”― Marie Curie
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela
Exercise One: Try Prayer
Prayer is an ancient spiritual practice, most often associated with theistic religions. However, prayer doesn’t have to be directed at a deity. Prayers can take many forms, including secular prayers. You can explore prayer more with the books Simply Pray by Erik Walker Wikstrom and the Power of Ritual by Casper Ter Kuile.
You can write your own prayer, make it up as you go, or find a prayer that you like and borrow it. A classic prayer that may be helpful is known as the Serenity Prayer. Here’s an adaptation of this type of prayer you can use. Use the name of a higher power that works for you: Lord/God/Universe/Spirit of Life/Mother Earth/Etc
(Higher Power), give me the strength to change what needs to changed,
And to face the fears I need to face.
Give me the serenity to accept what cannot be changed
And the wisdom to know the difference
Try saying this prayer daily, or as needed.
Exercise Two: Spellwork
Spellwork, from Wicca, offers us another way to address our fears and anxieties. Try this spell as you face your fear:
Exercise Three: Emergency Preparedness Plan
What emergencies and disasters are most likely where you live? Are you prepared for hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters? Make a plan and get prepared. There are many useful resources at Plan Ahead for Disasters | Ready.gov
Even a simple step, such as putting a blanket or a pair of walking shoes in your car, is progress. Don’t let the enormity of disaster preparedness overwhelm you! I like the approach of each time I’m reminded of a danger (say an article about an accident is in the paper) I do just one thing to be better prepared to face it. A car accident? I check the batteries in the flashlight I keep in the car. A reminder of the earthquake danger here? I check the expiration dates on my emergency water supply. Each little step will add up to better preparedness in the end.
Exercise Four: Neighborhood Network
Knowing your neighbors makes you safer and more resilient in the face of emergencies. And yet many of us don’t know our neighbors at all. You can change that by reaching out. Make up a card that lists your address and phone number, and go door to door introducing yourself. Ask your neighbors if they’d like to be on a neighborhood contact list, which you are putting together. Even if only a few people opt in, you’ll still be building connections.
If the whole neighborhood seems daunting, just challenge yourself to meet one or two neighbors you don’t already know or have contact information for.
What Fear Can Teach Us: https://youtu.be/OwgWkUIm9Gc
One simple trick to overcome your biggest fear: https://youtu.be/tqCQ5iNLnI0
Daring Greatly: An animated summary: https://youtu.be/eF6V8VBUKwA
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
- What have you feared in the past but no longer fear? What changed?
- Which of your fears have valid grounds? What can you do to face these fears and be better prepared?
- Which of your fears are less likely, or even baseless? What can you do to calm these fears?
- What dangers don’t bother you? Is there something you have avoided thinking about or preparing for (such as an earthquake)?
- Is fear holding you back or keeping you too guarded? Where would letting yourself be vulnerable move you in a positive direction? Can you let your guard down for that?
Next: Movement Five