5 Ways to Challenge Your Fear and Take Back Your Life
Something that kept me from moving forward during the first few years of recovery was fear. I was scared to let go of my illness, scared to take steps towards a healthier me, and scared to tune out the loud voice in my head telling me that if I didn't follow the "rules" I would die.
My life revolved around control and restriction. Most of the time I was so on edge that I couldn't enjoy simple moments. When I journaled about this post I could feel the fear clinging to the back of my throat.
Fear is something that we all can relate to, even if we have never experienced an eating disordered thought. Though healthy fear can activate the root chakra and ground us to feel safe, dwelling on to the fear that doesn't serve us only holds us back.
Fear keeps us from living out our life's purpose. When we are living in fear we are living in mistrust, of ourselves, of others, and a higher power's guidance.
Ways you can challenge fear and take back your life
1. Make a Fear list.
Creating a list of your inner fears allows you to be honest with yourself and what you are really battling. Doing this allows you to practice a deeper sense of vulnerability and intimacy with yourself, getting up close with the parts of you you may keep hidden. Write down what you think you are afraid of, then a few days later come back and take a deeper look inside of yourself, write a new list of things you are honestly afraid of. Sometimes seeing your inner fears written down makes them look less scary. This journal exercise opens you up to your deeper fears and helps you understand personal vulnerability while also showing you that your inner fears are manageable.
2. Allow yourself to feel fear.
Fear comes in different phrases and can disguise itself as shame, guilt, and even numbness. We catch ourselves saying things like "I can't" "What if" or "But, last time I...."
During my recovery, I found that if I sat with my emotions I could usually detect them better. It became easier to find my triggers and learn my true fears. When people used to ask me what I was afraid of I would answer with what I thought was holding me back, "failure" but if I was able, to be honest with myself I was really afraid of success. Fearful of the high standards I had created and if I achieved them afraid I truly didn't deserve it or that it would be taken from me.
Feeling fear, then letting go of it opens you up to the honest and vulnerable parts of yourself allowing for trust and compassion.
3. Challenge your fear and yourself.
So now you have a list, what are you going to do with it? By making a list of the things in our life that fear controls and taking active steps to manage those thoughts we can choose to take back our lives. If we remain vulnerable and honest with ourselves we are able to actively challenge these fears daily.
I am constantly challenging my inner critical voice, the fear of myself. I tend to seek out validation by comparing myself to others to see if I am being what others define as "good enough" often forgetting that my best is enough.
I seek out to understand what others define as normal and controlled behavior because I myself am still trying to define what that looks like in a healthy, recovered state. Often I catch myself looking at the person next to me during an aerials class to see if I am doing a move correctly, then my mind will start to criticize my body. Negative self-talk and comparison will linger for days if I allow it. I have to actively work against the fear of self-criticism and remain focused on myself in order to take back my life at that moment.
To do this I take a step back and remind myself that it is the fear of comparison, of not being like someone else, and of being criticized by myself that is allowing these thoughts to enter into my mind. When I remind myself that it is just fear to keep me from focusing on my instructor I am able to pull myself out of my negative self-talk and remain present in my practice. You will find what works for you in challenging your unhealthy fear.
4. Talk about it.
When we hold our feeling inside they tend to deplete us. Sharing your fears can release you from them. If you feel like you can't share your fears with someone try writing them down, or look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself. Sometimes being vulnerable and honest with ourselves is harder than opening up to our friends, partners, or families. But, just saying our fears out loud releases the power they have over us.
5. Trust yourself.
Don't let fear keep you from living. You are worth the fight. See each detail to the end. Learn to trust yourself and hold on only to the feelings that serve you, keep the fears that serve to protect you, and take the others as lessons. Your best is enough. You are enough. If you listen and lean into your life path you are going to be exactly where you are supposed to be.