Denying and attempting to suppress an emotion takes energy and, ultimately, doesn’t work. Trying to overcome it and, in essence, pretend as though it doesn’t exist is also not realistic.
What if we shifted our mindset surrounding fear to one of allowing it to exist without having control over us? What would that look like?
Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic, speaks about fear in this way. Whenever she’s travelling somewhere to speak, fear arises. Rather than letting fear take control, she chooses to have a conversation with her fear. She invites it to come along with her … knowing that it’s going to come along anyway. She tells it that, although she’s inviting it to come, it is required to be silent and not make any decisions. She tells her fear, “I am in charge and will be taking control of making all decisions.”
She isn’t trying to overcome her fear or deny the fact that it exists, but rather allows it to be part of her journey … albeit only as a silent passenger. She acknowledges its presence, sets a boundary and brings it along.
This is an empowering mindset. It’s accepting that fear is part of life and we can choose to acknowledge its presence without giving it power over us. This is analogous to being the captain of your boat and not relinquishing your authority by allowing fear to redirect the voyage.
Try inviting fear to come aboard, accepting its existence, but realizing you have the choice whether you allow it to take control or just be a passenger on the ride.