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I have spent way too much time letting fear run my life. Fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of losing people, and yes, even fear of success. Why is fear such a powerful force in our lives? To answer that question we have to understand what fear is and where it comes from.
What is fear?
At the Determined to Rise retreat in Randolph, UT we were given the opportunity to participate in firewalking. I’ll admit I only went to watch. I had absolutely zero intentions to actually participate. What type of crazy person walks on 1200 degree coals?!?! Before we were allowed to move to the fire an amazing instructor spoke to us. He explained how fear is programmed into our brain. Fear is simply put the brain’s way of keeping us alive. Every experience we have is recorded and stored then accessed when we are in a situation so we know if we should fear.
For example a baby is sitting on the floor and is approached by a harmless daddy longlegs spider. The baby laughs. He doesn’t fear that spider. The spider crawls on the baby’s leg. He just giggles because it tickles. He grabs the spider and pops it in his mouth right as mommy walks into the room. Now mommy doesn’t like spiders and she screams “NOOOOOOO!” Well that is a scary noise and baby starts to cry. Mommy runs over and scoops him up and babbles something about that mean old scary spider. You’d better believe that for the rest of his life that baby will now fear spiders. His brain has recorded that experience and now tells him that spiders are scary. That fear overrides reason and logic. The only way for us to get out of that fear is to choose to take control of it.
Fear can be a very real warning of danger, but as often as not fear is simply False Evidence Appearing Real. Just like in the story of the spider we often are trained to fear things that hold no real danger to us. Before publishing my post about my husband’s sex addiction I was paralyzed by fear. It took my nearly a year to even write the post and another several days to hit publish. I was afraid others would judge me. I was afraid they would reject me. I was afraid that after sharing my hope it would be dashed by another relapse from my husband. I was afraid that I was a total imposter in the world of healing betrayal trauma, I mean after all what do I know? Want to know what happened after I published my story. I got messages, lots of them. Every single one of them was from someone who wanted to reach out in support. Not only did my fears not materialize, but the opposite actually came true. I found strength, healing, and support that I didn’t know was possible.
How do You Conquer Fear?
So how did I overcome my fear enough to push that publish button? Conquering fear takes both logical thought and decisive action. Every single one of us has an inner voice that will guide us if we can push through the fear to listen to it. Sometimes it will tell us that the route we are considering is not safe. Our inner voice is very smart after all. Sometimes listening to the fear is the proper choice, as long as we are doing it out of rational thought and not being controlled by the fear. More often though by thinking through things logically we will allow our inner voice to calm the fear and give us the courage to take action. I had to ask myself what if all of these horrible things I am imagining actually come true? What if my husband relapses? Can I live through that? I’ve done it before. What if my friends abandon me? Can I handle that? Well I have two real friends that already know my story and they’ve stuck by me. I also have huge amounts of support in my FB groups of warrior women! Even if the rest of the world turns against me I know I will always have them. What if I get hateful and judgmental comments from the peanut gallery? Well I suppose I’ll live through that too. Not like I’ve never had a bully in my face before. I can survive that too. Not only can I survive all these things, but I can thrive through them! Then, with my inner voice cheering me on, I hit publish, shut down the computer, and went to bed. I wanted to make sure people saw it before I had a chance to back out. That was my decisive action!
We can only conquer fear when our motivation to succeed becomes bigger than our fear. The most important part of conquering fear is knowing your why. What is it in this world that you are willing to fight and sacrifice for? Family? God? Yourself? Find something that gives you the power to keep stepping one foot after the other no matter what obstacles are in your way. Everything starts with why.
I Conquered My Fear
When we got to the fire our instructor told us it was time to set our personal intention if we were going to walk across that fire. He said “Who or what would you be willing to walk across fire for?” He had told us earlier that he usually sees his family. Now maybe this makes me a bad mom or wife, but I can’t honestly say I felt that conviction that they would carry me across that fire. Instead what came instantly to my mind was a vision of myself emotionally healthy, full of confidence and strength. Could I walk through fire to become that woman? Did I believe in her enough? Did I love that woman enough to walk through fire to become her? In that moment I knew my inner voice was telling me that I had to walk. I hesitated a bit. Man this crap was SCARY!! I took off my shoes, squared my shoulders, and got in line. I knew that this challenge was something I had to do in order to propel myself into greater health, strength, and self-love. As I came to the front of the line I said “I am walking tonight because the girl on the other end of this path is worth it!” I raised my hands as a symbol of surrender to the process, and stepped out onto the hot coals with my chin high. I honestly didn’t feel a thing other than a slight crunching under my feet. As I reached the other side I felt a new power and self-confidence. I made a commitment to myself to push through all of the fears that are still holding me back from becoming the person that God created me to be.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am wise.
I am confident.
I am courageous.
I am capable.
I am victorious.
I walked on fire, and I can do anything!