Why Facing Your Fears Is The Most Effective Spiritual Practice
One year ago today, I was laying on the floor of my parents bedroom completely speechless while my whole world crumbled around me. I’ve hit rock bottom a few times before, but nothing like this. I let my fears get the best of me for too long. I found myself married to my darkness. So when I broke down I destroyed everything I kept as a security measure to keep me safe from myself.
As a kid with anxiety, fear is something I know very intimately. It used to be a separate entity, only there to ring a warning. But over the years it built a home in my head, and the walls grew so thick that I eventually suffocated.
My life has been a constant battle of navigating fear, but something happened that day I collapsed: I realized my biggest issue was staring me in the face everyday. I feared myself, and held back from anything that seemed threatening to the bubble of safety I had created around me. Facing my fears meant confronting a lot of issues that I’ve kept buried or secret. And even though I thought I was protecting myself, I was really keeping myself from reaching my true potential.
Fear is not the enemy. Fear is a tool for self discovery.
Fear has a bit of a bad wrap around here. It leaves a nasty taste in our mouths and makes us do things we might not like. But it’s our relationship to fear that’s critical to its effect on us. If we shift how we interact with it, we can open ourselves up to exploring ranges of ourselves we’ve never been able to access before.
Facing these fears can provide immense clarity — for our likes, dislikes, challenges, and talents alike.
Facing fear helps us find our flow, and serves our deepest growth.
I hear a lot of people say we need to be fearless to experience freedom. They claim we need to abolish fear in order to live happily. Well I disagree. A life without fear would leave no room for growth. There would be nothing to help steer you in the direction of your unique path. Nothing would oscillate, and we’d become stagnant creatures dwelling in a false sense of safety where the only thing that grows is rigidity.
Fear freezes us and keeps us from flowing with the changing tides. A life without flexibility is subject to breaking.
Avoiding fears keeps us from becoming the best we can be.
I know this to be true because this is what I’ve experienced first hand. For years I let my fears get the best of me, so I never truly stepped into myself until very recently. I’ve wanted to be an artist my entire life, but I let others’ opinions and voices shape my beliefs in childhood that I eventually lost touch with all of the things that made me genuinely happy.
Trying to do what I thought was best, I played it safe and followed the herd. I was on a different journey then, and today I’m grateful for the way my life has unfolded, but I ended up spending 5 years following graduation trying to find my place in the real world… because the path I set out on while in college was one I never really wanted anything to do with. I lost my entire sense of identity and eventually went into a spiral of depressive episodes. I began questioning my life and its entirety.
Deep down I knew I always wanted to create, but I threw that dream out when I let fear get the best of me and I didn’t believe in my abilities. My creativity would shine through in random ways, like through my style and free movement on the dance floor. But at the end of the day, as much as I would drool over other artists who were seemingly so happy on their journeys, I wouldn’t even try to pursue the creative ends that interested me. Why? Because I felt unworthy, untalented, and I dreaded the thought of failing if I ever tried.
I spent a long time dwelling in my misery. It was a romantic relationship & fear was our officiant. Click To Tweet
Fears can point out our deepest desires, but only if we listen.
How would I ever compete with the incredible artists out there? Look at these musicians playing intricate symphonies by 13! How is a 26 year old ever going to join the party and make something of herself when she’s so late in the game?
These thoughts roamed my head every day. So that anytime I faced curiosity, fear would jump in its place and conjure up all these ‘what ifs’ and doubts.
I recognized that I needed art and creativity to be at the forefront of my life shortly after graduation, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. I hadn’t been involved in any of the arts in years and I felt so behind in comparison to anyone I looked up to. Musicians, performance artists, photographers, and painters — I admired them all. I wanted to become something so badly, but there was this huge part of me that kept me from following through with any of those paths, because I feared stepping up to the plate to discover what I was capable of.
This is the worst that fear has to offer: blocking you from your deepest longings. It was buried in self doubt, wrapped in a lack of confidence, and put in place to hold me back from myself.
So I remained complacent for years, seething in silence, while I slowly deteriorated from any true sense of purpose that called me forth. I lost touch with who I was, slipped off into the deep end of self-inflicted misery and practically dug my own grave. I even welcomed death as the easier option to continuing in a life I felt trapped in…
And I was trapped. I was held hostage by the one thing that had controlled me for so long: my fears. I let them get the best of me on every occasion… until everything changed.
Ignoring fear restricts our passion potential. Pent up passion has the power to explode.
I spent a long time dwelling in my misery. It was like a romantic relationship, and fear was our officiant. Life grew stale, brittle and harsh. Fear trapped me from ever feeling free to be myself. I was like a wild animal in a cage, craving to be released. And that release finally came when my life came crashing down in the form of a major mental breakdown.
Things got really ugly before they got any better. I knew a major element of my crisis was finally recognizing I was living in fear and hiding away from the things I deeply wanted in life. I felt like a fake and the real me had never even been seen.
This had to change, so I began a self-induced journey of artistic exploration where my main motto revolved around facing my fears. I was so tired of being pushed around by my fear that I decided to challenge it head on, as a practice that eventually helped me become really good at using fears as fuel in guiding my newest journeys.
We have to unleash our passions. We have to let ourselves out of the box, because in the box it grows angry. ~ Kaypacha Click To Tweet
From Disempowered to Empowered: How to Use Our Fears to Help Build Our Dreams.
Facing fears builds self confidence and restores our power.
No matter what field you are in, facing your fears allows you to see what truly excites you. This is where your full potential lives. The more you learn about yourself, the more opportunities will come through self discovery and learning to trust in yourself and your abilities. This is a practice and will strengthen over time. The more you practice facing your fears, discovering your truths, and using your findings to your advantage, the more confidence you’ll build within yourself as a person and in your ability to conquer any challenge that comes your way. This is how you build bravery. This is how you get your power back:
Tune in. Fear is a sign. Follow it.
- Start taking notice of the things that make you fearful. Pay attention to when your hands get sweaty, your heart rate increases, and you get a little nervous feeling in your tummy. This is fear knocking at the door. It’s time to listen.
Listen and Take Notes. Acknowledge your fear’s message.
- Don’t run away the second you feel yourself become fearful. Instead, hear your fears out. Listen to them to see what the fuss is all about. Recognize them for their worth, but assure yourself that you’ve got this.
Fear is Fuel. Use it.
- Ask yourself what is it that still keeps you curious around that fear? What is it that you want to overcome from this? Become one with that force and turn the fear towards your pursuit of bliss.
Facing fears leads to happiness.
Not only will this help you from falling into fear’s trap and getting caught in its web of anxious emotions and limited growth, but you’ll learn to use fear as a vital guide in navigating your life. If we let it steer, we may never reach the destinations we long for. Answers to some of our deepest secrets live behind the illusion that fear creates for us.
If the opposite fear is love, then facing our fears helps us move in the direction of love. This is true in that we find a lot of importance around the things that make us fearful. If we can learn to see what those things are — what is it around our fears that we care about so much — then we can learn to separate the things that make us curious from the things that make us fearful. When we learn to use our fear to our advantage, we’re well on our way to becoming an evolutionary badass.
There are too many talented creatures out there hiding themselves because of their fears. Click To Tweet
Ridding yourself from the grips of fear allows you to transcend into a more wholesome being.
Facing your fears is spiritual practice, as it aligns with most spiritual missions, and is essential for human evolution. The basis of most spiritual practices is to follow the path of love, light, divine energy, God, or whatever source works best for you. Spirituality revolves around self acceptance, personal improvement, and finding harmony with oneself and the world around us. Even if none of this spiritual language isn’t native to your beliefs, becoming the best being you can be is still considered pretty damn spiritual in my books. You’re essentially looking to better yourself, find meaning, and faith in who you are and what you’re doing here. Pursuing this path is something almost every individual goes through whether they’re “spiritual” or not.
What unites us all is our immense desire to figure our shit out. Whether it’s finding that perfect career, putting ourselves out in the dating world, or growing the balls to show someone your artwork, fear plays a big role in shaping how these paths unfold.
For far too many, fear steers them in the wrong direction. And herein lies the biggest issue: too often we let fear push us away from our true potential.
There are too many talented creatures out there subconsciously hiding themselves because of their fears. Whether they’re too afraid to be vulnerable, to ‘step-up’ to the plate, or they fear discovering what they’re capable of, they all have one major thing in common: they are supremely talented, uniquely gifted beings that would benefit immensely in sharing their gifts with the world. It took a long time for me to believe this too, but trust me, if I can do it, so can you.
Catch a swell
Catch a wave
To another inspiring place.
And we all
We’re coming out of our caves
~ Nakho Bear
Don’t restrict your precious gifts from the world. You must be brave. The world needs you. So come on, love, come out of your cave.