The spookiest day of the year, Halloween, is fast approaching. So, what better time than now to face what we’re most afraid of... our fears! And we’re not talking about witches or zombies. We’re talking about those anxiety-filled thoughts that keep us awake at night, and in moments, distract us from simply enjoying life. We see All Hallows’ Eve (October 31) and All Soul’s Day (November 2) as open invitations to delve inward and explore the darker side of life, with the ultimate hope of shifting towards a more positive light and turning fear into opportunities for expansion. Read on to learn more.
Fear is not just “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”1 We see it as a powerful place for self-discovery and growth, not to mention, a huge part of what makes us human. We are not born with fears, they are learned, so it’s the unlearning that needs to take place in order to evolve. At times, fear can be an intuitive alarm that prevents us from experiencing harm, but most often, it’s an inner barrier that keeps us stuck and limits our true potential.
One of the most common fears we face is failure. Deep down, we don’t believe we’re good enough or deserving of our desires. We may dream of starting a new business or beginning a romantic relationship, but that fear of failure will hold us back from attempting something new. These doubts or apprehensions cause us to both avoid risk and reject opportunity, even when it’s right in front of us – the rationale being that if we don’t put the effort in the first place, we won’t become vulnerable to loss. But what if we followed our hearts and took a chance on something that we’re passionate about? What’s the worst that can happen? It’s important not to become stagnant in life, but rather to keep pushing forward in spite of our worries. Even if we don’t achieve what we originally yearned for, taking chances enables us to push beyond our comfort zones and uncover new aspects of ourselves and the world around us. With every lesson learned, we can embark on new experiences one step wiser, grow and become stronger, get hurt and love harder, ultimately bringing forth fresh perspectives and engagements.
Another fear many of us encounter is the fear of being judged. We sometimes refrain from speaking our truth because we’re worried about what others will think. But the thing is, there’s no such thing as perfection, we all flounder from time to time, and that’s ok! The key is taking a risk and putting ourselves out there, and if we’re progressing, improving and trying our best, that’s all that matters. If we can lean into what makes us feel uncomfortable, stand up for ourselves, voice a potentially controversial opinion, or seize a new opportunity, it’s always better to take that leap. For in the end, when we take our lives into our own hands (versus letting someone else or fear to guide our lives), we’re living our own truth.
Lastly, a fear many of us face, especially those who have confronted illness, is about our future. Will we reach significant milestones with our partners, careers and families? Will we live long enough to see our children graduate college or get married? Fear of the unknown can be terrorizing, paralyzing and incredibly anxiety-provoking, most notably when it involves matters of health and mortality. And there are times when that fear just needs to be felt and taken in. But in lieu of becoming completely immobile, or missing out on important moments, practicing mindfulness can keep us rooted in the present and free of scary thoughts of the future. Tomorrow is unpredictable, even for the youthful and healthy, so making a conscious choice to make the most out of each moment we have is the most powerful remedy for confronting these fears.
Feeling trepidation or worry is normal, and there are certain life-threatening situations that can garner all sorts of uneasiness. But there’s another set of fears that come from within our own “monkey mind” and self-worth. These are the thoughts that hold us back from living a happy, successful and exciting life, that we all crave and deserve oh-so-much! We have the choice to rise beyond our learned self-perceptions and see reality for what it is. So whether we’re heading out for trick-or-treating, dressing up with friends or staying in for Halloween year, join us in taking time to ruminate and examine the darkness we carry, and beginning the process of letting it go and believing in the limitless potential we all embody.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
— Anais Nin