Heard the phrase – ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’? The same goes for ‘fear’. When we allow fear to take control we become over-whelmed, fatigued, sad, find it difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks and behave in ways we’d prefer not to. In six steps I’m going to show you how to befriend your fear, see it for what it is and use it as an opportunity to raise your energy levels, let your true self shine and, experience life to the full.
While fear is a good thing – primal, instinctual and there to keep us safe from harm if we remain unaware of how fear is dominating our day-to-day lives, it can do more harm than good by stopping us experiencing the truth of who we are and the endless possibilities available to us as a result.
Get to know your fear
Have you noticed the number of fearful thoughts that run through your mind on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour and minute-to minute basis? From insignificant thoughts, like a fear of ‘putty’ (which features quite heavily in my household at the moment with two primary age children obsessed with squwidg-ing it all around the house), to fears of being rejected or singled-out and then bigger fears which feature you or a family member being involved in an accident or developing a life-threatening illness. How many fear-based thoughts are actually doing you any good?
For example, by the time I was around five months pregnant with my first child I had developed an immense fear of giving birth and equally so of doctors and hospitals. I spent hours fretting over how I was going to deliver my baby and the many scary and disastrous outcomes that could be. I had diligently tuned into fear by focusing on my preconceived ideas, birthing stories from other mums and episodes of ‘One Born Every Minute’. I felt confused, ashamed for thinking badly of a situation that so many aren’t as fortunate to be in, emotionally exhausted and completely out of control.
Ask for help and do something (anything no matter how big or small)
Intuitively, I turned inward and asked myself – ‘If there’s anything within my power, that I can do to turn this situation around, what is it?’
Almost as soon as I’d admitted my fear, I had a willingness to change the situation. I made a request for help and felt the huge weight of responsibility lift. The simple act of doing something, anything, helped me see the situation differently and with a more positive perspective.
My research involved tuning out of negativity and into positivity. I began to research positive childbirth stories which required little or no medical intervention and talked to my midwife, my Pregnancy Yoga class mates, friends and family about how I was feeling.
As a result, I came across a system called ‘Hypnobirthing’ which included tools such as movement, breathing techniques, relaxation methods, visualisations and affirmations. This made perfect sense to me, given my background in Yoga. I also chose to visit a couple of hospitals where I could give birth which reassured me. To my relief these facilities weren’t as scary and sterile as I’d pictured in my mind. They were quite the opposite – warm, welcoming and very supportive.
Change is challenging – be kind
Changing perspective, opening ourselves up and moving forwards fearlessly isn’t always easy. Many of our fear-based beliefs are there for a reason and have kept us safe (or in a comfortable place) for a long time. When we move forward and do so with a new perspective we begin to shine a light on our vulnerabilities and insecurities. This can feel very uncomfortable because sometimes we don’t like what we find and emotions can begin to surface.
Whenever I felt uncomfortable during the process I would do something nourishing for myself such as moving through a gentle Yoga routine, taking a bath, watching a film, eating a healthy nutritious meal or enjoying a walk by the beach. A good option is also to write your thoughts and feelings in a journal – particularly if you find it hard to vocalise all that you’re holding inside. Click here to view our previous blog ‘What’s not to love?’ on the topic of self-love useful for cultivating love for yourself.
I also armed myself with positive affirmations (positive statements that describe a positive outcome in the present tense) so that whenever I felt fearful thoughts creep back in I would have something positive to feed my mind with. For example, “My mind is strong, my body is strong, my baby is strong.”
Visualise success but let go of the outcome
While I was working towards my goal of giving birth naturally, with as little medical intervention as possible, I also knew that nature was at work and as we all know, nature is unpredictable and holds a power, support and wisdom of its own.
While I did all that I could to achieve a natural birth, I also let go of the outcome. Aware that my baby’s birth wasn’t completely up to me and that medical intervention was a possibility, I did my best to make friends with all outcomes. “I am open to whatever direction my baby’s birth takes.”
It’s your experience – own it, embrace it, get into it
When the time came for my baby’s arrival I saw my situation as an opportunity to face my fear of doctors and hospitals and of giving birth.
I felt empowered, applied what I had learned, visualised success, focused wholeheartedly on doing my best, let go of the outcome and that day the stars aligned. I delivered my daughter, gently and safely in water, within five hours and with no pain relief. It was a magical experience and I loved every minute. I recognised that the experience wasn’t happening to me, but that I was the experience and I was in full control.
Fear is an opportunity to learn and grow
Had I allowed fear to run the show I wouldn’t have learned how strong I am. I wouldn’t have experienced the sheer joy, bliss and wonderment I felt when I delivered my baby. I also developed an upmost respect for the medical profession and now see doctors and hospitals as a place to go for support rather than seeing them as a threat. This is a far cry from the fear-based scenario I had planned out only a few months previously and I’m forever grateful for that.
Face your fear and do it anyway
While I have used my experience of childbirth as an example here it’s possible to apply these steps to facing any fear. Whether it be a fear of cotton wool, a fear of driving in the dark, a fear of flying, a fear of wearing a bikini on the beach, a fear of your children not eating broccoli – use your fear as an opportunity to get to know yourself by shining a light on your vulnerabilities, while opening you up to your own inner strength, which is far greater than you could ever imagine.
- Get to know your fear
- Ask for help and do something
- Be kind to yourself
- Visualise success and surrender the outcome
- Own your experience
- Fear is an opportunity
What holds you back from moving forwards in a positive direction? Post a comment below if you’re happy to share your fears. Possibly a great step in confronting your own fears.
If you’re experiencing fear of any sort Yoga can be a great support. Prana Mama Yoga’s classes are suitable for all levels of ability and, as well as providing a great way to improve fitness, strength and flexibility, classes are there for you to make time for yourself to nourish your body as well as your soul.
If any part of Pregnancy or being a new mum is worrying you, Prana Mama Yoga can offer you support and information to help you achieve the most in your journey into motherhood.
Click the following links for class schedules and information on the types of Yoga we offer.