“Your largest fear carries your greatest growth.” ~ Anonymous
We all have some kind of fear.
Sometimes, it’s one overarching fear; other times, there are more than one.
While experiencing fear is completely normal and human, being driven by it is another story.
We can’t go away with it. Our life will never be free from the experience of fear, and it will keep showing up in various forms. To a certain extent, this experience is essential for us to appreciate the richness of human existence and experience. We need to be cautious of what could potentially harm or threaten us, and we need to be able to channel our energies to safeguard ourselves.
However, our life’s story changes completely when fear sits in the driving seat.
Then everything else begins to spin out of control, and we start operating in ways that, on the surface, seem safe but cause immense harm to us at the deeper levels.
Our experience of fear is usually tied to either the experience of something fearful that has already happened and our need to prevent that from happening again or shield ourselves from a possible threat that can take place in the future.
While fear does have an evolutionary and primal function, when our spirit begins to view everything from this lens only, the world appears to be dark and scary.
And in this world where we live, not only do we continue to encounter a physical threat to our lives, our very existence has come to be marred by existential fears that tend to take over the driving seat every now and then.
We are constantly grappling with an identity crisis of some sort, wondering if we have a secure space in this world. We question our existence and being and are embroiled in a quest to operate in ways that make us feel like we belong because at some level, we feel that we don’t, and there is no bigger threat than not belonging, not being accepted and valued for who we are and want to be.
In this quest to fit in, we scare ourselves with our own thoughts, and the fear inside of us engulfs every experience we go through.
Our life becomes a series of “if I don’t do this, then…” and the blanks are always filled with some bad outcome that is lurking around the corner, waiting for us to deviate from what could be safe, acceptable, and expected.
A threat to our identity has become a threat to our survival at the core level.
We are constantly grappling and trying to dodge one or more of these fears that have become the pushing and pulling factors for so many of our behaviours and ways of being :
1. Fear of rejection. Being rejected or not being accepted for our actions, choices, and being pushes us to make choices and act in ways that will please others around us, just so that we can feel like we belong and that we do have some value. It leads us to constantly be on the edge around people and be available all the time, and it makes us hyper-vigilant to any cues that could suggest we are not going to be a part of the circle that we are desperately trying to belong to.
2. Fear of failure. Being afraid of making a mistake, saying the wrong thing, not doing things “perfectly,” or not living up to standards and expectations. This fear keeps us glued to the false idea of perfection. It makes us anxious and worried, and it doesn’t allow us to take a break. Eventually, it reaches a point where we think that avoiding important tasks, roles, and responsibilities is the best way out. If we don’t do anything, we won’t fail, right? And then we remain stuck.
3. Fear of abandonment. Being left alone or left to fend for ourselves is perhaps an extremely powerful and crippling fear that one can experience. Our lives are made richer and meaningful by the relationships we have and want to have, and there is nothing more devastating than experiencing being left alone—being made to feel that we are worth discarding.
4. Fear of loneliness. What would life be without meaningful connections and relationships? After all, we are all social and relational beings and are not meant to stay isolated and aloof. If that happens, we will perish. However, this intense fear keeps so many of us hooked on to unfulfilling, unhealthy relationships.
5. Fear of being unworthy. This is the fear that lies at the heart of all the others. Underneath all the fears lies one question, “Am I worthy of being loved, accepted, and cared for?” We derive our sense of worth from our relationships because that’s what we are taught. We are born and raised in a world that teaches us that we have to show something for our worth and prove ourselves to be worthy of receiving the basics that constitute our emotional and relational world. And so we go through life trying and trying to become “worthy.” The fact of the matter is that we are worthy of love, care, and acceptance. And it takes a lifetime for so many of us to go back to the basics, i.e. to love and honor ourselves. Until then, it’s all about letting our fears drive us around.
However, the day we realise our own fears are holding us captive, we are also faced with the element of choice.
Whether we like it or not, there is always a choice, and in that moment of realisation, we can choose to affirm something different.
Affirmations are like the seeds that we decide to plant in our minds. Just like fear is planted in our minds through experience, we can choose to replace that with something else.
By simply affirming something that feels more aligned and paves a way forward, we can begin to free ourselves from the grip of fear.
And whatever we affirm needs to be followed by the necessary action as well.
Affirmation + Action = Change
So instead of chasing people and experiences to affirm our sense of worth, we need to learn to do that for ourselves. We need to be able to tell ourselves that a mistake, a bad experience, or someone’s non-acceptance doesn’t mean we aren’t worthy. We need to create a separation between the situational reality that we are faced with and our own internal reality. We can do that by being mindful of the labels that we are wearing and the ones we need to let go of.
Here are some powerful affirmations by Louise Hay that can help us to become more intentional with ourselves and move toward a sense of security within our own being:
1. “As I change my thoughts, the world around me changes.”
Most of our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves are a result of our social and emotional conditioning, and we can change that. All we need to do is become aware of our own internal dialogue and the way we look at ourselves and reinforce the ones that seem supportive and uplifting instead of focusing on the ones that pull us down.
2. “I love myself exactly as I am. I no longer wait to be perfect in order to love myself.”
In a world that is constantly nagging you to do something, be something in order to be loved; it’s imperative for us to find security in who we are, with what we have. Whatever we love blossoms, and whatever we don’t only degenerates. Sadly, we are taught to love everyone else but our own self. That’s what we need to change. There is no perfection, and we need to stop chasing that.
3. “I love and forgive myself.”
We all make mistakes and have our lessons to learn. Too often, we are gripped by guilt along with our fears. We become too hard on ourselves in order to fit into this world that often calls for a false sense of perfection. Therefore, it’s important to be kind to our own selves, even when we have made a mistake and use that as a learning ground. At the end of the day, we can lead a life of fear or one filled with love, compassion, understanding, and acceptance of who we are. And wouldn’t our inner and external world be better if we all operated from love instead of fear? What do you think?
“Listen to your fears,
For they hold the key to your heart’s desire—
Your desire to be seen and loved for who you are.
Listen to your fears,
As they call out to you,
Telling you that it’s about time and you need to be you.
So open your heart and embrace yourself,
For you are worthy of everything good.
Just the way you are.
All you need to do is believe.” ~ Damini Grover