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Short and Sweet Summary: If fear is limiting your choices in life, it’s time to practice some courage and take steps to reduce it. Imagine what you would do if you were free of fear. How would you act differently if you knew the fear was gone? Or if you knew someone else was watching your reaction to fear? You don’t have to try to eliminate fear altogether because that’s not really even possible. All you need to do is practice courage a little bit at at time to see drastic changes in your life.
Fear is the enemy of many widows.
Not only do widows fear death because your spouse died, you’re likely afraid of dying now, too. Do you suffer anxiety attacks over fear of your own death? Especially if you have children that you don’t want to leave orphaned?
I get it.
Maye you also have a fear of the unknown, fear that other people will forget your spouse, or you will forget your spouse, fear of being alone forever, fear of emotionally scarring your kids (that might just be me 🙋♀️) and on and on and on.
Ugh. The FEAR!
Here’s the thing, though. Fear can stop you from living. And that’s not OK.
My unrelenting fear followed me everywhere in the first two years after my husband died. It was bananas. And it caused physical as well as mental health issues. I was in and out of the doctor’s office trying to figure out what was wrong with me all the freaking time.
I had to get control over my fear. Pronto. So I learned ways to tame my fear by practicing courage instead of accepting that fear is always in control.
If your fear is taking over your life, all I’m asking you to do is be willing to practice courage. Beating fear takes time and courage. And you have to be willing to invest in both.
Even if your courage increases by a few measly percentage points, you’d be shocked by how much your life would change. I know mine did. I’m not nearly as afraid of things like I was before. Did my fear disappear completely? No. I’m human 😉. But I reduced it. And that’s a huge success in my book.
Want to reduce your fear too? What do you have to lose?
Follow these strategies to increase your courage and avoid letting fear beat you.
IMAGINE A POSITIVE OUTCOME
If you always imagine the worst, you’ll have a really hard time letting go of fear. One solution that helps me, is to visualize success instead of convincing myself the absolute worst thing will happen.
After I took over running my husband’s chemical business, I feared failure on a super-size scale. I convinced myself that my customers would find a new supplier and I would have to declare bankruptcy for the business my husband worked so hard to build.
Because the fear was so prevalent, I decided to learn what I needed to know to prevent my customers from jumping ship. If I didn’t know the answer to something, I asked the experts lots of questions until I found the answer. When I made mistakes, I gave myself extra grace to do better the next time with the new information I had. Every day I went into work was one more day I learned how to run the business.
I started visualizing myself as a successful business woman using all of my senses to create the most realistic scene possible.
And I felt the feelings of what I wanted to feel as a result.
Proud. Committed. Determined.
It’s important to visualize a positive outcome, but equally important to imagine how you’ll feel when you get there.
You can avoid letting fear beat you by letting the positive outcome feelings guide you in the right direction.
IMAGINE SOMEONE ELSE IS WATCHING YOU
When it’s just you and your inner critic convincing yourself that your fear is uncontrollable, imagine someone else is watching you. Maybe your child or your parent or a trusted friend.
Imagining someone is watching you gives you the extra push to move forward with fear because you act with more courage when other people are involved. Do you want to show your fear to your kids? And let them think it’s OK to be afraid of everything and everyone?
Of course not! You want to set a good example and show your kids that we can feel the fear and do it anyway.
So imagine your child is watching your next move. What’s it going to be? Behave the way you’d want your child to behave in a similar situation. Give yourself another extra boost of courage by thinking that someone is watching you for clues about how to act.
This is a great way to avoid letting fear beat you becuase you can set the example for others.
CREATE A COURAGEOUS ALTER EGO
We all have multiple personalities or ways we act in front of different groups. You probably don’t act the same way around your colleagues as you do your friends. My parent persona is way different from my work persona, for example.
But here’s the thing…you can create any persona you want. What if you created a bold and courageous alter ego? Someone whose personality traits you could turn on and off when needed?
Give your courageous alter ego a backstory and feel the way you think that bold person would feel.
I was terrified of going on sales calls by myself after my husband died. But people go on sales calls every day and they live to tell about it. I had to summon the courage to do the same. I had to feel the way a brave person going on sales calls would feel. And do what a brave person going on sales calls would do.
I had to be that person.
Interestingly enough, the things you’re most afraid of aren’t really that scary once you do them. The fear of doing something is almost always bigger than the actual event. Once I started going on sales calls I realized my fear of what I thought people would think or say was way off base. In return, sales calls became easier.
My courageous alter ego, the one that goes on sales calls and lived to tell about it, needed to step out in front of my fear.
Who or what does your courageous alter ego need you to be?
IMAGINE YOU HAD A WEEK LEFT TO LIVE
Considering many widows already fear their own death because they’ve seen death up close and personal, this might be hard to imagine.
But, think about it anyway. Because realistically, any fear you have about anything would disappear if you knew that your time here was limited.
Instead of thinking about the fear, think about the consequence of never trying. Think about how you would feel if you lost the chance to even try. What regrets would you have? What would you wish you did differently?
Go do those things. Because you have the opportunity right now.
I’m not saying your fear ever goes away completely. Mine doesn’t. So I have to use mind tricks to get to a place where my fear doesn’t debilitate me. And imagining I only have one week left to live gets my butt in gear to get over my fear and go do the thing I need to do. I avoid letting fear beat me when I prioritize what’s important.
Give yourself the change to work through your fears before it’s too late.
STAND UP STRAIGHT
If you’re not taking deep breaths, standing up straight, and looking straight ahead, your chances of cultivating even the tiniest bit of courage are severely diminished.
I know I feel less afraid when I’m not hunched over. When I smile and stand up tall, fear is less likely to invade my brain because I’m already practicing a powerful posture. Fear gets bigger when you retreat. It gets smaller when you take up more space.
So take up more space.
Keep your chin up and make eye contact with others. Practicing courage doesn’t just mean thinking about the fear and doing it anyway. It also means acting and looking the part.
Need some extra help? Here are some yoga poses you can practice to cultivate courage and reduce self-consciousness.
WIDOW WRAP UP
If fear is limiting your choices in life, it’s time to practice some courage and take steps to avoid letting fear beat you.
Imagine what you would do if you were free of fear. How would you act differently if you knew the fear was gone? Or if you knew someone else was watching your reaction to fear?
You don’t have to try to eliminate fear altogether. That’s not really even possible. All you need to do is practice courage a little bit at at time to see drastic changes in your life.
I’m not scared of sales calls anymore. And I don’t go to the doctor on a regular basis anymore. Because I stepped over those fear boundaries enough times to learn that those situations weren’t as bad as I made it out to be in my brain. But I had to practice, practice, and practice some more.
When fear starts taking over and convincing you that you’re not capable or strong enough to do the thing you need to do, try practicing one or more of these techniques. And the notice what happens.
The more you practice courage and start taking action the easier it becomes.