I had a recurring nightmare as a child involving rats. In my dream, I would wake up to rats and mice eating my feet. I had been terrified of rodents since before I can remember and flinched at the thought of them. Even squirrels would send shivers up my spine. I babysat a kid once who had 2 pet rats. I felt the surge of anxiety every time I walked by their cage.
Last year, I rose above my fear in Bali. I was in a spa getting a pedicure when all of a sudden a huge rat leaped from the clean towel pile. It scurried across the room and up the wall into a hole in the ceiling; long skinny tail last to get through the hole. I felt myself want to pee, flee, scream or cry. Instead, I took a deep breath and then just sat there staring at the hole in the ceiling, calming myself down.
As I sat there staring, I realized the rat fled in fear. This creature was terrified of me, the woman working and the man who had walked in. I felt the anxious adrenaline dissipate and could not wait to leave and process what I had just realized. After that day, I saw several more rats on the roads, alive and dead. My reaction was numbed.
I don’t particularly enjoy seeing them now, I just feel a difference in my reaction. The anxious fear is gone. My nightmare has been replaced with logic of the rat’s fear of me. I was literally bigger than my fear. The universe directly provided the physical lesson and I consciously agreed to face the fear and learn to overcome.
Recognizing that I am bigger than the thing I feared helped me overcome the anxiety. This can be applied in most cases where fear and anxiety are involved. I let the thing I feared become greater than it actually was and gave it the power. When fear rears its head, it signals me to acknowledge it and try to move forward. This is where bravery steps in and power can be regained. When I harness my bravery, great things happen.
Some questions to ask when fear presents itself are: What fears are you currently dealing with? What can you do to harness your bravery? What is on the other side of your fear (accomplishment, freedom, love, security, knowing the unknown)? How is this fear serving you?
Answer the questions honestly and don’t forget to breath. Fear is a gift and is natural. It is a messenger and when paid attention to, it can reveal valuable lessons.
“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” -Paulo Coelho
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