The thing about fear
Fear shows up in so many different ways and for everyone it's different. For some it's the inability to commit and for others committing to everything. Sometimes it's subtle and other times it's a drop kick to the face.
Thing about fear is that it can actually teach us and create opportunity.
We tend to not like the physical sensations we experience with fear or other negative emotions so we attempt to deflect, tense up, ignore, or lash out. Anything to not sit with the feeling. That's where we are doing it wrong.
When we tune into ourselves and decide to let the uncomfortable sit with us the sensations associated with the fear dissipate pretty quick and that's we can listen and learn.
Why am I afraid? What is really going on? What can I learn?
When we don't sit with our fear it manifests and takes over in so many other ways. Anxiety, sadness, loneliness and all those other crappy feelings no one wants. That's the thing, we don't want them but they exist and will always exist. We should learn to cohabit with them.
Learn from them. Gain strength and wisdom from them.
For as long as I've been improvising, I've heard "follow your fear". We use this phrase as a way to encourage taking the risk on stage without the script. That making a move might not land with an audience, our partner may not understand what we are attempting to do, or we just really fuck it up. There's no way of knowing until we make the move. So if we allow fear to paralyze us then we never know what is on the other side and what we can learn from it.
This is one of those big improv lessons that translate directly into life. Do we put ourselves in mortal danger? No! Does it scare us to move to a new community, commit to a new relationship, or even something small like try a new food? It absolutely can spark fear and that's when we should "follow" it. Tell our brains, "hey, we've got this and we are doing it, let's see what happens" and then be open to what happens next.
That's the trick.
We say "yes" then try to control the entire experience out of that same fear. Really learning through fear is to say yes then let go of expectations and control and truly just be in the moment without judgment. To see what the experience is trying to tell you.
Listen. Learn. Grow.
After my last bad anxiety episode, I came to the conclusion about what exactly was provoking it and found what I was truly afraid of in that moment and I just sat with it. It was very uncomfortable but again improv has taught me to get comfortable being uncomfortable. So I sat and sat and sat.
Was it fun? Fuck no! Did I learn? YES, and (see what I did there!)
I feel better. I understand me even more than before. I know where the fear is coming from and I can make a plan of action.
In this case, I'm going to sit next to the fear. It's not fully going away anytime soon and the only way it will is for me to take fear's hand and together walk forward one step at a time. Before I know it, I'll have taken a thousand steps and fear no longer will be at my side and I will be stronger, smarter, and happier for having pushed myself to move forward with what it is I want to be doing.