Changing our relationship with fear

Do you find that fear gets in your way of doing the things you really want to do? Do you find yourself all pumped up and motivated to make that big step, and do that thing you’ve been putting off for ages, but then feelings of fear come up, and you push on the brakes?


You might assume that because these feelings of fear arise, it’s a sign that you’re not ready. Like you and fear cannot coexist together in the same space? If fear shows up to the party, you’re not going to the party (even though it sounded great and you were really looking forward to it!).

 Well, this doesn’t have to be the case. We don’t have to have a completely avoidant relationship with fear. And we certainly don’t have to let it stop us from what we really want to do and achieve.  

In this article, I’m going to offer you a different way of looking at fear that can help change that relationship into a more understanding and helpful one that serves you much better in getting to where you want to be.  

Understanding the role of fear  

Fear has an evolutionary purpose — it kept our ancestors safe in the face of threats. So if we saw a lion in the long grass we would have the emotional driver of fear to trigger our flight or fight reactions, to keep us safe. It is interesting to note that whether it is a real threat or a perceived threat, we still respond in the same way. So if there is a lion in the grass, or we think we see a lion in the grass, our physiology responds with just the same reaction.  

However, in the modern world, we have evolved to be social creatures, and threats now come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. It might not be a physical threat of a lion, but it could be a social threat of being shamed, or pushed out of a social group for example.  

So fear often surfaces in situations that don't pose an immediate danger but involve stepping out of our comfort zones, and our bodies sense the potential risk of harm. Recognising this evolutionary backdrop helps us understand why fear arises when we attempt something new and unfamiliar.  

Overcoming the "not ready" assumption

One common misconception is that if fear shows up, it means we're not ready for the challenge. In reality, fear often accompanies growth and expansion. It's a signal that we are pushing boundaries and exploring uncharted territory.

As a life coach, I encourage you to question the assumption that fear equals unreadiness. Instead, consider fear as a companion on the journey of personal development. What if you expected fear to show up as a natural part of your growth process?

You don't have to be fearless

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be fearless to pursue your dreams. In fact, a certain level of fear can be beneficial. Embracing fear doesn't mean eliminating it entirely; it means changing our relationship with it.

Understand that fear is a natural response, and it's okay to feel anxious. The key is to use fear as a driving force, transforming it into 'good nerves' that propel you forward. 

Harnessing fear as a helping force

Neuroscience tells us that fear triggers the release of stress hormones, preparing our bodies for action. Instead of viewing this physiological response as a hindrance, consider it a tool that can sharpen your focus and enhance performance.

By reframing fear as a helping force, you can leverage its energy to propel yourself toward your goals. 

Practical tips to transform your relationship with fear

Mindful awareness

Cultivate mindfulness to observe your fear without judgment. This self-awareness is the first step toward changing your relationship with fear. Get curious with fear and ask it questions – why have you shown up now? What are you trying to protect me from?  

Say thank you

Instead of running away and hiding from fear you can instead welcome it in, and say ‘Thank you for trying to protect me, I understand why you’re here, but I’ve got this!’ You can then acknowledge fear, but not let it dictate your actions.  

Challenge negative thoughts

Question the validity of fear-based thoughts. Are they based on facts or assumptions? Often, our fears are rooted in imaginary scenarios that may never come to pass. It might be a perceived threat, not a real threat that we’re reacting to.  

Set realistic goals

Break down your larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. This not only makes the journey less daunting but also allows you to build confidence gradually.

Celebrate progress

Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. This positive reinforcement helps rewire your brain to associate fear-inducing situations with success. 

Seek support

Surround yourself with a supportive community. Whether it's friends, family, or a coach, having a network can provide encouragement and different perspectives. 

Changing your relationship with fear is a transformative process that requires self-compassion, curiosity, and kindness. Embrace fear as a natural part of your journey, and let it be the driving force that propels you toward your most fulfilling life. Remember, you have the power to turn fear from a hindrance into a powerful ally on your path to self-discovery and growth. 
If you’d like some extra support in your journey to your most fulfilling life, contact me and we can explore how I can help.  

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bristol, City of Bristol, BS7
Written by Clare Sutton, ACC ICF Life Coach / Confidence / Fulfilment / Purpose
Bristol, City of Bristol, BS7

Clare Sutton is a fully accredited Professional Life Coach (ACC ICF) supporting people to feel confident and empowered to create their most fulfilling lives, in what ever way that means for them. Her ethical and evidence-based practice offers her clients truly transformational coaching experiences.

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