Avoid Getting Too Friendly with FearMany of the clients I have worked with over the years have been in very close relationships with fear. This becomes apparent as I talk to them about what is going on in their lives. They might tell me that they have always wanted to find a long-lasting intimate relationship, but they are not dating because they are too scared to get their heart broken. They might say that they hate their job, but they fear letting go of the security they have so they are not looking for a new one. They might dream about a vacation in Hawaii, but they are too scared to get on the plane. They might wish they could change their relationship to alcohol or drugs or food, but they are too scared of how they’ll feel after this change to make it in the first place. This close relationship with fear is common.
I think a more appropriate relationship with fear is to see it as a messenger. If I’m thinking about something I might like to do or a change I might like to make in my life and Fear shows up, I have a choice. I think the healthy choice is to receive Fear’s message as if you are receiving mail at the door. You can open the door, take the message out of the hands of Fear, close the door, and sit down to be present to read the message. This means that you are consciously reading the message that was delivered by Fear to see if it contains any helpful advice. Then you are consciously deciding whether to take that advice or not. I am capitalizing Fear in this context in order to help us imagine it as a separate being. Here’s a potential conversation between your conscious self (aka Truth) and Fear:

Truth: I have always wanted to own my own home and have it feel like a sanctuary for the things and people that I love. In the past every time I think about taking steps toward buying a home I’m overcome by reasons that I shouldn’t or can’t do it. When I really look at the lists of shouldn’ts and can’ts I realize that they are all fears. I want to move past those fears and move toward my dream.
Fear: You can’t afford to buy your own home. End of story.
Truth: I have been saving money for many years and I have a stable job. The truth is that if I choose to buy a home I will be able to make it work financially. Thank you, Fear, for bringing to my attention that there is a financial reality to buying a home, but I have already thought of that and I’ll keep it in mind. Goodbye.
Fear: Wait! Don’t close the door! You have a stable job now, but this economy sucks in case you haven’t noticed. You’ll probably get laid off like everyone else in the world, and then you’ll be stuck with a house!
Truth: I have a job now and I have had one for many years. I can’t live my life assuming bad things will happen or I’ll be stuck planning for the worst forever. I am choosing not to live like this. I am choosing to realize that I have many skills and that I have always been able to support myself. I don’t foresee this changing. Thank you, Fear, for reminding me of this economy. It’s a great time to be grateful for what I have, but it doesn’t mean I need to invite you in and live with you. Goodbye.
Fear: But wait! Don’t buy into all of that new age stuff about positive thinking. You need to plan for the worst! Don’t you see the foreclosure signs and hear about all of the people that are losing their homes? You’re going to end up on the street and your savings will be gone. And if you’re not homeless, you’ll probably only end up in a home you don’t really like, or with mean, noisy neighbors next door, or your plumbing will go out as soon as you move in, or you’ll discover you don’t want to live in that neighborhood, or, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…you’re signing up for a doomed, negative future!
Truth: Thanks for the warnings, Fear, but I have been dreaming about this for a long time. I know deep in my heart that owning my own home is right for me. I have responsibly saved money, I have thought about the things in a home that are important to me, and although I’ll take your advice to be careful, if I listen to you any more I’ll be stuck motionless forever. It’s time for me to make a move toward positive change in my life and I’m ready. I’m not going to invite you in to live with me or you’ll be my roommate forever and I’ll never move. I’m going to lock the door this time. Goodbye.
To summarize this exchange, the truth was honored while still taking into account the message of the fear. But if fear is invited in and seen as a helper, protector, and friend it will always prevent change…even if it’s good change.
At this moment I suggest that you consider the things that you might know deep in your heart that you need to change in your life. Is fear keeping you stuck? If so, try to see it as a messenger and receive the message without inviting it in to stay. Still stuck? Schedule an appointment with me so I can help you get unstuck and so you can change your relationship to fear forever.

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