“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
~ Nelson Mandela
What are you afraid of? According to this week’s quote, courageous people still experience fear, they’re just able to conquer it. Which all sounds great, but how exactly do you conquer fear? It starts by understanding and accepting fear as a valid emotion. Everyone feels fear at some point in their lives, it is the body’s natural response to a perceived threat. Imagine, for example, that you are on hike and you almost step on a snake. Your whole system will automatically go into a fight, flight or freeze response. Similarly, you might feel a flash of fear when you hear about a new wave of layoffs coming up at work. In both cases, it is your basic safety and security that is being threatened. The threat of loss is also responsible for a great deal of fear. Whether it’s the fear of losing your money, your health, your sanity, your loved ones, your freedom, or your life- it’s all based on a similar threat of loss.
Since avoiding fear is not really an option, what can you do to overcome it? One way is by comparing fear with its opposite emotion, which is love. Whereas fear feels like having ice-cold water inside your guts, love feels more like drinking a hot cup of cocoa- an inner warmth slowly spreading from your chest throughout your whole body. Fear feels tight, closed and rigid compared to love, which is more of a soft, comfortable, open feeling. When you are afraid, you hold your breath in anticipation of what will happen next. When you are in love, you breathe freely and focus your awareness in the present moment. As the saying goes, only love can overcome fear. So, the next time you feel afraid, take a moment to feel all the physical sensations associated with that fear. Then, with full awareness, let that cold internal feeling melt into the warmth of your love. Doing so may not directly eliminate the perceived threats to your safety or security, but it will help you have courage in the face of adversity.
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About The Author
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being. Influenced by the ideas of Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, and Deepak Chopra, Nick presents his unique take on human existence with the goal of helping others live a happier life.