First, I will share a short story about fear. Then, I will explain how building emotional awareness can help you face fear and transform into the wisest version of You.
The seed said to the caterpillar, “I’m too afraid! It hurts! It’s much too scary to grow.”
And the caterpillar sat patiently making its cocoon and listened to the woes of the seedling.
“Aren’t you afraid you won’t be the same? What if the world is different when you come out?” said the seedling.
As the caterpillar was making its last closing stitches, it replied,
“I am afraid. Be afraid. Living our full experience is about being afraid and doing it anyway. The world is always going to change, and so are we. We are the creators. Break your shell open. Let it hurt. Be afraid, it’s natural. Don’t let fear stop you from blooming into what you’re supposed to become.”
Admittedly, I made this story up, but this story sums up what this article is all about; accepting that fear is valid, necessary, and conquerable with a bit of emotional awareness.
How Emotional Awareness Can Help You Face Fear
There are so many misconceptions about fear.
Gavin de Becker, an American author and security specialist, explains that true fear is a signal in our brain in the presence of real danger. Unwarranted fear, what we sometimes confuse for anxiety, stress, worry, or dread, is based upon our memory or imagination.
Emotional awareness can help us determine the difference between these two types of fear, and move forward appropriately, without being dictated by fear itself.
When we feel fear, even if we KNOW we are not in life-threatening danger, our bodies cannot distinguish the difference, so our minds are clouded by our flight or fight response.
How To Strengthen Your Emotional Awareness
Strengthening our emotional awareness is kind of like having the stopwatch to life; it allows us the ability to pause whatever situation we are in, interpret what is actually happening, and shift or modify our mood and emotions long enough to make the right decisions.
For the interest of understanding my point, I’ll dive into one of my own experiences.
I had never moved or lived very far away from my parents, and this summer I packed up whatever would fit in my car, sold the rest of the house, and moved my cat and myself out of Idaho to the Oregon Coast.
I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t really have a job lined up, nor did I know where I was going to live. This was a series of fears and challenges I was emotionally aware of, and ready to overcome even though I was entering the scary dimensions of Change.
Fear of change stops us from taking action in so many areas of our lives. Change can make us feel like a loose balloon, out of control with no clue as to any direction we are headed.
The only reason I was able to face these fears head-on was because I have learned not to buy into what my brain is telling me by having faced smaller fears and climbing my “Courage Ladder”, if you will.
I was able to face my fear of being alone with no stability because I was emotionally aware of the difficulties I was CHOOSING to overcome.
I have strengthened my emotional awareness by taking small steps.
Some fears I was emotionally aware of, and what I did to face them
- I was incredibly afraid of heights, so I went ziplining
- My fear of singing in front of people, inspired me to attend a few open mics until I was asked to play at a sandwich shop
- I was afraid of public speaking, so I signed up to facilitate a leadership course
- My fear of failure inspired me to do something I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish
The point of sharing my personal stories is to iterate that learning how to tune into your emotional awareness and mustering up the courage to face your fears is a gradual process.
Start small, and eventually you’ll be able to feel through your fear and grow into a wiser version of yourself.
5 Steps To Face Fear and Strengthen Emotional Awareness
- Accept and acknowledge your feelings of fear as valid
Remind yourself of the safety around you.
- Is this a real fear of a dangerous situation, or is this based on my memories or imagination?
- Feel it. Thank your fear for stopping by to remind you that you care about yourself, and let it pass.
- Feel it, again – if you have to. Breathe in that space, and as you breathe out, see your fear flowing out of you.
- Be afraid and do the thing.
Once we can understand Fear, we can move and grow beyond its stifling control.
Be scared, but grow through it.
Feel your emotions run through your veins so that your body can remember how to cope next time you feel that way. This is how you advance through fear.
Test your limits. All of them.
Testing your limits doesn’t always look like base jumping off a mountain; sometimes it looks like staying home on a Saturday night, or being okay with going out to dinner by yourself.
Do it. Embrace the small fears so that you know how to embrace the big changes.
What scares you the most is what you need to learn, or you wouldn’t be scared of it.
“The greatest fear is the fear of fear itself.”
In the words of the caterpillar, “Be afraid, it’s natural. Don’t let fear stop you from blooming into what you’re supposed to become.”
What fear are you ready to face today? Inspire us in a comment below!