Let’s shatter some myths here. There is no state of ongoing fearlessness or endless energy. One may experience moments of fearlessness or heightened bravery. And one may experience days of bountiful energy. However, these are not states that are fixed (or static) in our human experience.
I started reflecting on all this a couple of weeks ago when I saw a post on the MindBodyGreen website, titled, “’Fearlessness’ Is a Myth: Learn to Control Your Fear Instead.” The trigger for my reflection was the word, “control.” In my experience trying to control one’s emotions leads to a lot of angst and internal conflict.
However, the article is much more balanced and helpful than the title implies. The author, Jennifer Mielke, offers three approaches to working with your fear rather than trying to control it or trying to strive for an unattainable fearlessness. The approaches are:
- Get familiar with the ways fear shows up in your life.
- Spend some time with your fear.
- Appreciate your fear.
Familiarity with fear: I would call that being mindfully aware of your emotions. When you’re mindfully aware, you might notice how certain words, settings, sounds, or experiences trigger fear in you. Then you might notice how that fear shows up in your body. Do your shoulders lift? Does your breath shorten or stop? Does your mind scurry in a fit of “What ifs”?
This exploration is part of what Mielke calls, spending time with your fear. The bodily awareness of your emotional state can be that time as can journaling, exercising, meditating, talking with others, or being in nature.
I really love what she says about appreciating your fear. She notes that fear is a way to put the brakes on. And putting the brakes on is something we all need at times. In our go-go-go culture, fear can be a signal that something needs reassessing. Sometimes the thing we fear is not the thing that needs to be addressed, but it can be a signal that something needs reassessing.
I used parts of this process in a similar way a few weeks ago when I heard in my self-talk a string of judgementalness towards myself, friends, and strangers too. When I asked myself where this was coming from I realized I was bone-tired. This deep fatigue had led me on a fighting mental rant to “shield” my tired self.
I, then, acknowledged my fatigue and instead focused on what I could do to help myself feel more refreshed. I appreciated the mindfulness that led me to this awareness of how things were for me in that moment.
Will I be able to rid myself of fatigue, judgementalness, and fear? Absolutely not. Will I remain aware of them and appreciate them and know that they arise and fall as all things in our human experience? Absolutely yes.
Wishing you the freedom and power of mindful awareness.