How To Dissolve Fear On The Spot

Intro Note From Mandy:

I’m SO excited to have my friend Kat Koh guest posting while I’m away on my honeymoon! You might remember her from my post, A Drink To Reduce Inflammation, Boost Energy & More as she is the co-founder of Golden Chai, but she is ALSO a Creativity Coach and has an awesome article to share on overcoming fear. Whether or not you realize it, fear affects us all in so many ways. I find for myself, entrepreneurship has been one constant journey of overcoming fears, but for you it could be moving on from a bad relationship or leaving a job you don’t like. I see fear as so important because it can be a chronic source of stress, if not treated properly. Over to you, Kat…

Back in 2012, I was living in New York City and listening to Alec Baldwin’s podcast “Here’s the Thing” on the bus. That day his guest was Robert Lustig, famous UCSF pediatric endocrinologist and anti-sugar crusader. It was a fantastic interview, and I was shocked by how sugar has made its way into almost every single food at the grocery store. I swore to start a low-glycemic diet the next day. Unfortunately, because two of my patterns are extremism and perfectionism, I spent a week on a cancer-survivor diet of brown rice and steamed veggies. I know, sustainable, right? That round failed, and so did many more. I now eat low-glycemic 85% of the time. However, it was only possible because I finally addressed the huge fears holding me back from my health goal.

First off, I apologize. “Fear” is an overused word, isn’t? And because we call everything “fear”, it leaves you with no idea how to start fighting back.

Fear tends to show up in a big way when we’re trying to do something great.

Maybe you’ve been trying for months to revamp your diet with more veggies and fiber, finally start that creative project, get your small business off the ground, or train for a half-marathon. Sometimes, as soon as the idea strikes, fear does too.

So let’s get specific. How do you recognize that fear is holding you back?

THE MANY FACES OF FEAR

Fear is terrifyingly sophisticated. It has a closet full of disguises and masks. Here are just some of the behaviours that can be boiled down to fear:

  1. Procrastination
  2. Dishonesty/lying
  3. Perfectionism
  4. Self-judgement and judgement of others
  5. Making excuses for yourself
  6. Rationalization
  7. Some types of anger

I know, it’s a heavy list. But it’s important to be honest with yourself. Eternally delaying the new diet, telling your partner you went to the gym when you didn’t, crafting unsustainable goals, feeling jealous of your friend who posts her healthy meals on Instagram, and making excuses for yourself all stem from fear. And feeling fear is natural! Of course you feel it, you’re a real person.

But letting fear get in the way of your goals is a huge problem; repeat episodes of that will feed that voice that says, “I can’t do it.”

And you can. You just have to push past the fear first.

THE 7-STEP PROCESS TO DISSOLVE YOUR FEAR

  1. Zero-in on the limiting belief that is causing the fear. It’s usually a statement, like “I’m not strong enough”, “I can’t do this”, “I always fail.”
  2. Warmly greet your specific type of fear. “Hi there, perfectionism!” The act of greeting it isn’t just some hippie-dippy thing. It keeps you relaxed so that you stay malleable, teachable. Allow yourself to feel any feelings that it brings with it, so they have a chance to cycle out of you.
  3. Observe how you repeatedly respond to this fear, aka your pattern. Do you backpedal from your goal? Do you dismiss it as silly? Do you get mad at yourself? If you have a go-to response, it is called a pattern — take note.
  4. Figure out where this belief came from. Why does this bummer story play in your head when you set out to achieve a big goal? Scan your childhood for answers.
  5. Say this aloud: “As a human, I contain a jumble of patterns and beliefs that drive my behavior. I can replace the ones that don’t work with new ones that do.” Patterns do not indicate lack of moral fortitude on your part, or that something is wrong with you. They’re just patterns, and the ones that don’t serve you can be dissolved and replaced with ones that do.
  6. Practice “grandmotherly mind” when the pattern arises. This tool comes from Zen Buddhism. Basically, practice regarding your mind as you would a grandchild. I say this, with love and bemusement: “Aww! Look at Kat’s mind. She’s being judgmental and getting in her own way again,” This way, you are chipping away at the pattern with love, not feeding it with self-judgment.
  7. Physically DO something that proves the fear wrong. In other words, add more evidence to the column titled “I Can Do This”. For example, immediately go for a quick run, write a paragraph, or fix yourself a healthier snack than you normally would. Clarity and self-trust come from engagement, not thought.

BEATING FEAR IS CRUCIAL TO YOUR HEALTH

Fear puts tension in your tissues and causes damage to you on a cellular level. Emotionally, it puts your fight or flight response on a harmful hair trigger, and totally shuts down your creativity.

My research and practice as a coach has shown me that fear and anxiety are swift, ruthless killers of creativity and dreams. Whatever you want to accomplish, fear will kill it inside you if you let it. Many of my clients have big aspirations that scare them, and it’s truly awesome. They come to me to help them overcome that fear and get their best work out in the world. If you want to find your element, be in your element, level-up your work, or shake up your field, I can help you do all that. But what I really want is for you to arm yourself with the 7-step process up there — use it and edit it to make it your own, because the world needs you to do the work you’re meant to do.

About the author, Kat Koh:

Kat Koh is a creativity coach, writer, entrepreneur, educator, and curatorbased in San Francisco. She is a student of the work of: Elizabeth Gilbert, Marie Forleo, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Elena Brower, Dr. Danny Penman and J. Mark G. Williams, Ph.D. In the past, she served as co-director of the Adobe Books Backroom Gallery in San Francisco and held curatorial positions at the San Jose Museum of Art, U.S. Pavilion at the 2012 Venice International Architecture Biennale, MoMA, and the Brooklyn Museum. She holds a masters in art history and is a proud dropout of the Ph.D. program at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

Find her here:

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