Hands shaking, he walked up onto the stage. Turning to face the London audience did little to calm the butterflies flying rapidly within his stomach. Looking down at the pages on the podium, he began to read his prepared speech. Suddenly his vision began to blur, the trembling uncontrollable. After reading one line, he realized that he could not continue. It was in that moment where Mahatma Gandhi realized that he could not continue in front of such a large audience. His fear forced him to hand his speech to someone else to read.
Fear can threaten any of us at any time. It sometimes suddenly hits with little to no warning. We may even wonder exactly why we are even feeling it at all.
To be fair, the presence of fear isn’t always necessarily negative. For instance, fear is what prevents us from walking out into a busy street without first making sure the intersection is clear and safe to cross.
What about that fear that isn’t there to protect us? What about the fear that places its hold upon us, drawing us backward rather than forward, preventing us from achieving the goals we want to achieve or from accomplishing the life’s dream we’ve held since childhood?
You don’t have to cave into that fear causing you to forget about those dreams.
I would like to invite you to participate in an exercise with me right here, right now. Don’t worry. It won’t take long and you’ll feel better. Sound good? Disclaimer here….I ask that you close your eyes during the exercise (if you feel comfortable), so you may want to read ahead to know what the exercise entails.
Okay, let’s get started. I ask you to think about something that makes you feel fear. Maybe your dream is to be an excellent public speaker yet like Gandhi, public speaking makes you go weak in the knees. Maybe it’s to move into your dream career, have a child, etc. Whatever it is, just the mere thought makes your palms feel sweaty, your knees go weak and you can think of nothing else but running away; anywhere but closer toward whatever it is that is making you feel fear.
I now ask you to feel the fear as it starts to move into your body. Don’t resist it; just allow yourself to feel it. Feel exactly where that fear is in your body. Is it in your stomach? Do you feel it in your chest? Your legs? Somewhere else? Again, don’t resist it. Don’t try to push it away. Don’t run from it. Allow it to be.
Acknowledge it. Try saying something like, “Ah, there you are. So this is what you feel like. Okay, got it.” Just continue to breathe until you feel that fear begin to lessen or to dissipate altogether.
The key to this exercise is to realize that resistance feeds the fear. The resistance only makes it grow. Pushing the fear away only delays the inevitable and that inevitable is that it must be dealt with if we want to grow. It must be dealt with if we want to reach the beauty that lies just on the other side of it. In fact, it is that acknowledgement and acceptance as you move to the other side of that fear that aid in its release.
I encourage you to give this exercise a try whenever you feel fear moving in. Know that it’s okay if it you find yourself practicing this exercise more than once to release that fear. Sometimes practice really does make perfect and that’s okay. Be gentle with yourself.
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