I am writing this blog from the airport as I wait for one of my connecting flights for my one-month stay in Portugal. When I told clients and others about this trip, I got many questions, such as what will you do and see? But what stuck out to me more than any of the questions was the comment, "Oh! You must be SO brave?!" It was a question comment; I'm not sure that's a thing, but the words were arranged like a comment, but the inflection in their voice conveyed it was a question. I have really thought about that question comment. I have never thought of myself as brave; quite the opposite. But I also know you do not have to be brave to do scary things. Hell, I wake up every day and do life, not knowing what the day will bring, and I think many days that take guts! I am writing about fear in honor of my month overseas and the spooky season.
On my first trip overseas, I ended up in a hostel that very much resembled the hostel from the movie Hostel. IYKYK. But if you don't know, let me paint the picture for you. Imagine pulling up to the hotel to find it covered in graffiti, not the cool kind, and stray animals from the streets coming into the hostel lobby with you! I was in a small room with 6 bunk beds and a tiny table in the middle of the room with a nude man rubbing his protruding belly. Needless to say, I was NOT going to stay there, but….I was alone, did not speak the language, had no car, and knew no one there. This situation is a WHOLE story time!!!
But I figured things out and got my ass to the plush airport hotel!! And I did it by myself. It took me a minute to figure out some things (i.e.-language). But that situation, although scary, taught me a valuable lesson.
Fear, by definition, is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is
dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat. Fear is an emotion caused by an idea. This is true of all emotions, but fear is different. We rationalize the belief. We make it a fact. But, there are some things we fear because we have actually experienced things, seen things, and may have been traumatized by those experiences. Fear caused by experience and/or trauma is rational. But a fear of something I've never experienced could be irrational.
Fear is also one of those instinctual emotions that serves to keep us safe. It makes so much sense that we pay extreme attention to it. But we also know that while being in fight or flight can keep us safe, if we live in that space continuously, it can become detrimental too. It is no wonder that fear and anxiety often go hand in hand.
How can you move with and through fear? Here are the things I do in scary situations:
1. Reframe the fear: I ask myself, "Do you know this situation or experience is
scary, or is it just a belief you have about it?" HINT: ALL these tips will require you to avoid what you believe about fear.
2. Think about the pros of moving with fear: Each time I have gotten through something scary, such as opening my practice, being a competitive dancer, leaving a relationship that no longer serves me, or getting out of the sequel to the Hostel movie, I realize that I get an automatic confidence boost.
My brain and body are like you just did that ish! You can do more!!
3. Embrace Uncertainty: Understand that life is inherently uncertain, and fear often stems from
the unknown. Embrace uncertainty as a natural part of life &'s journey and an opportunity for
4. It helps me be intentional instead of just operating on autopilot. As discussed, many fears are beliefs about an event or situation. That belief can inadvertently become our truth. Something we take as rational and realistic. When I fear something, I work on being intentional by asking myself the facts of the fear. Are there any facts? How and where did I learn this fear? And how is the fear serving me? These are very intentional and mindful questions. These questions interrupt my habit loop just enough for me to say, "Maybe this is not scary; maybe it &'s just unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable.
5. Keep a Fear Journal: Consider keeping a journal to track your fears and progress in
overcoming them. This can help you gain insight into recurring patterns and measure your
growth over time. This is a great way to get a more accurate look at what is mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally happening with your fears and progress or lack thereof with the fear.
6. Call fear what it really is: Maybe your fear is just doing something uncomfortable or changing. It could be a less ideal situation, or fear is a loss or unmet expectation. Try naming
fear more accurately to minimize its weight and magnitude.
During the spooky season, challenge yourself by examining your long-held fears and habit loops. Beliefs are not necessarily facts; fears can be based on facts, but be sure to examine each situation you are fearful about to be sure.
Follow me @blissfulmindbehaviorhealth on IG to watch me face and embrace fear while I live and work abroad in Portugal this October.
Make facing fears an adventure in your life. You can do difficult AND scary things.