“To Fear or Not to Fear”

“Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it.”
–Lt. John B. Putnam, Jr.

I love this quote because it illuminates the necessity and inevitability of some fears. Fear can be a great warning to us, a signal that alerts us to the dangers of living in the corporeal universe. Fear can keep us on our toes, it can put us into that great unconscious state where we protect ourselves effortlessly and beautifully. It can tell us when there is something wrong, something dangerous, or something we don’t yet understand.

But fear can also hold us back. It can erect walls that seem impossible to break down. It can urge us to sabotage a relationship, back out of a job interview, or make us take the bus instead of a plane. So the issue really comes down to the difference between rational and limiting fear. Certainly a phobia (like heights or public speaking) is a limiting fear and can easily be eliminated with the guidance of a skilled NLPer. But what about other fears, like entering a new relationship and worrying about losing yourself? These fears, or worries, can be warnings based on past experience. In these cases, it can be useful to treat the fear as a message from the unconscious, telling us what we need pay attention to- a chance to “check in” and evaluate whether our needs and values are being met. For example, if I fear being interviewed for a new job, I’m given the opportunity to evaluate whether the job is a good fit for me. It gives me a chance to reconnect with inner myself and ask for what I need.

“All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears–of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words “Some Assembly Required.”
–Dave Barry

Fear is a topic that fills much of the NLP literature and the practice of hypnosis and I’ve asked myself many times about the best way to handle fear. Do we strive to eliminate feelings of fear in regards to the things we want to do, or do we simply garner the courage and grace to move forward with our desires and ambitions? In Time Line Therapy, we work to erase fear, in NLP we cure phobias, and in hypnosis we visualize doing the things we fear, easily. However, it has been my belief for many years now that the best approach to anxiety and worry is courage. NLP is a great system for eliminating phobias and limiting fears, but also for building deeper levels of strength, courage and grace. Through hypnosis, we can trace fears back to their roots and gain strength in recognizing them as patterns from a past we don’t have to relive in the present.

Take time now and commit yourself to achieving your goals, to doing that thing you’ve always wanted to do. All you need is already inside of you. And if you have the opportunity to feel fear, take a moment and try out this short process.

1. Feel the fear, locate it in the body, and get curious about it.
2. Ask, “What is this about?”
3. Ask, “What am I gaining through this feeling? And what am I losing?”
4. “What do I really want and deserve in this situation?”
5. “What action do I need to take, or what do I need to learn right now?”
6. Breathe and just feel the sensation leave your body.
7. Follow through with the message!

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