Hello everybody, welcome to Episode 7 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and we have a good question coming today:
QUESTION: “Can you help me to get rid of fear? I’ve started thinking more positively — absolutely love it — but I’ve still got a bad thing inside and it’s fear. And I think it’s because I don’t deserve it. I love the positivity, but I’ve still got fear and I would love for you to explain fear so I can get rid of it.”
What is the Purpose of Fear?
Look, fear is natural. Fear is a natural, normal thing and we all have it. It means different things for different people and it comes out at different times, but we all have it somewhere or another.
You can do all the self-work you want; you will still be put in fearful situations.
That being said, having this pressing desire to get rid of fear, while also natural, only perpetuates the problem and makes fear stronger than it has to be because you’re resisting it. Fear is your brain’s way of trying to look after you and keep you safe. It’s your friend that’s trying to protect you. Let it be your friend.
Befriending Fear – How Do I Work With It?
As we all know, many times, fear feels a hell of a lot more like self-sabotage than it does like our friend, but that’s just because we don’t put a lasso around it. And if a lasso isn’t put around it, it gets increasingly out of control and harder and harder to be seen as a good guy — which it is. So let’s take a breath, remember that fear is your friend, and break down ways of putting a lasso around it.
In your case, you’re already at an advantage because of this commitment to positive thinking which is really just a commitment to be bettering yourself. That desire to change and overcome is half the battle, or probably more like 4/5ths of the battle.
I can tell by the way that you’re asking this question, however, that you’re not extracting all of the benefits that positive thinking has to offer, and frankly, many people aren’t because the monstrous self-help platitude that is “positive thinking” is misunderstood. It’s a good thing, but not for the reasons it’s advertised as, in my opinion. What I believe is crucial for you to do is reframe positive thinking, and use it to improve your relationship with fear because they’re not two separate entities — they have a lot to do with one another.
How to Reframe Positive Thinking
The traditional approach to positive thinking, or positivity, or whatever you want to call it is telling yourself “it’s going to be okay,” or “I believe everything is going to be okay.”
This is a good means of not panicking and stressing ourselves out too early, sure. And when things do end up fine, you look like a genius and maybe even think that you used your brainpower to move things around in the universe.
But things don’t always go well, and blindly telling ourselves beforehand that they WILL go well, doesn’t prepare us very well for handling that pain our stress when things don’t go well, and this is how the common approach to positive thinking gets people in trouble. Yes, it prevents us from panicking before things actually transpire, but it really only accounts for half the possible outcome.
So to reframe this positive thinking in a healthier, more practical way (especially with regard to fear) we must shift the narrative from, “this will go well” to “I’ll be okay if this doesn’t go well.”
There’s a very, very big difference.
Struggle is going to come. It just is. We can do a lot of self-work to perceive struggle differently — to see it as an opportunity to grow, to learn about ourselves, or to toughen ourselves up — but it will still be there, and pretending that we can just will ourselves into a life without struggle is not realistic.
What is realistic, though, is the fact that struggle doesn’t have to define your life — or run your life. Fear, however, is the illusion that struggle WILL run your life, that things will turn out poorly enough that you won’t be able to handle it and your life will be worse off.
Get Clear about Fear
Use your willingness to think positive as a means of putting a lasso around fear. What are you fearful of? Get clear about that. What are the things you’re holding back from doing, why are you holding back, what beliefs do you have surrounding them?
Once you have answers to this question — get realistic about it.
It’s okay to admit that some of your thoughts are really just itty bitty conspiracy theories. This is a great example of where optimism and reality meet: these things you’re fearful of don’t really give you less value as a person. They don’t make you you. You’re probably the only person who thinks that they do because of the beliefs you’ve exposed to, and that’s all right as we all have beliefs like that. But it’s harder to see when they’re wrong when we’re assessing our own beliefs rather than having an outside perspective.
Even if you do make a blunder, you’re trying your best and doing what you think you have to do, right? Can you really be put at fault for that?
And that brings me into the last part of your question that I want to address.
You mentioned that you’re not sure you deserve something. What do you not feel you deserve, and why? I’m not suggesting that anyone necessarily deserves anything, but I am suggesting that whatever lead you to this belief — whatever you feel you have to be punished for — is also a scenario in which you were doing the best you could do.
We can’t act beyond our own consciousness, and though we might hurt people sometimes (and forgive me if I’m going off the rails here)…we do it because one experience or another has led us to believe that that was what we had to do to somehow preserve ourselves. It can be sad when these things happen, but it doesn’t mean there was pure malice involved.
That can be really hard to grasp, but think about how you’ve always done what you thought was right based on your own psychological makeup. You don’t deserve OR NOT deserve anything. I’m giving you permission to forgive yourself, and though I can’t speak for anyone else, I think all our listeners are as well, because we’re all doing our best to get by.
Yeesh. What a sermon…this time. This was an emotional question!
I appreciate you sending it in and being vulnerable with something that obviously means a lot to you. That said, if you are sending your own questions in, do try to be as specific as possible and maybe offer some personal history if applicable. I don’t want to tell you how to express yourself — it just helps me answer everything in greater detail and I want to help you as much as I possibly can through one answer to one question. So hop into my brain and ask yourself what else I might want to know regarding each question before you send them in.
That concludes today’s episode. If you’d like to have one of your own questions answered, send them to email@example.com
Thanks so much for tuning in, really hoped this helped everyone, and hope to see you in the next one! Bye for now.