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CAPTION: The power of taking action against your fears! A woman stood blindfolded in a bikini to promote body positivity. Amy-Pence Brown, like many other adults, has struggled with self-esteem – a fear of shame – all her life. A few weeks ago, she decided to do something about it by conducting an experiment in body positivity in her home town
There are going to be some recurring themes in our journey together, and fear is definitely one we will unpack in different ways.
A few weeks ago we talked broadly about fear – how it begins as a child and evolves as we grow into the real world, holding us back from living a wholehearted life.
Shortly after writing that post, I was introduced to an alternate theory. Instead of just simply banishing the presence of what I’ve termed “the F word,” Hunter Wade, an instrumental leader guiding personal development, education, and media in a new direction, believes embracing and having gratitude for fear is critical to optimizing our experience.
“I think of fear as False Evidence Appearing Real. When I find myself afraid of something, I figure I have reached my outer bounds, the edge of my experience. If I want something new, better or different, I, as the creator of my experience, have to be or do something different. Fear is a beacon telling me where I haven’t been or inviting me into growth.”
I love this acronym and how Hunter’s theory repositions fear as a motivator versus a suppressant. But initially, it is very hard to put into practice. When I usually reach the edge of my experience, my immediate thought is – get me out of here, I don’t want to fall off the cliff! But Hunter explains, that is my brain’s way of protecting, and in turn, limiting my experience.
“My brain wants to keep me safe by directing me toward that which I already know or have done. When I step into the unknown it screams ‘danger danger.’ If I listened to it and backed down, I would never create any new results or have any new experiences. As such, I LOVE fear and treat it with respect. I have gratitude for how it guides me to know where I have the most room for growth!”
Hunter’s thoughts have extreme merit as far as self-achievement is concerned, but how does it work pertaining to relationships and health?
“There are two kinds of fears, mortal fears and fears of shame,” He explained.
“Concerns about our health are often (and not always) mortal fears. Fear of looking bad in a bathing suit, well that’s a fear of shame. Shame is a broad term here about feeling in some way ashamed or made fun of etc. When we are afraid to ask someone out, that’s a fear of shame. When we are afraid to speak, that is a fear of shame. Even the fear of being abandoned, that is a fear of being shamed. While these fears of shame feel very real, they are being created by a story we are telling ourselves. They come from limiting beliefs written from our past experiences and cultural influence. As I come up against these fears, again I am compelled to push forward through them in order to create a new relationship with my belief system, lest my beliefs create the same thing over and over again.”
Let’s work through this together by specifically addressing a fear of abandonment. If you are afraid of being alone or not worthy of love, you might have held back from following your heart or experiencing meaningful relationships. You have traded your own happiness in exchange for protecting yourself from the potential pain of loss. But that potential pain is not real, nor is it certain to manifest in your life. It is false evidence.
Hunter encourages us to walk through a similar exercise to push beyond the danger zone of fear.
“Here’s an activity that helps penetrate through fears of shame. Think of a big scary goal, like finding a perfect 10 relationship with the man or woman of your dreams… or of clearing all your debt… or of getting a big promotion. Now ask yourself, ‘What is the scariest obstacle I have to face in the attainment of this goal?’ When you have an answer, ask yourself, ‘Why am I afraid of that?’ Stay with the question until you find your real answer, even if it puzzles you for a moment. Then, ask it again, ‘Why am I afraid of that?’ and with your new answer ask, ‘Why am I afraid of that?’ and again with your new answer…repeat this process until you find a shift.”
Are you ready to make the shift and jump off the edge of your experience? What is the false evidence playing out in your life? What questions can you ask yourself to break through the fear factors holding you back?
As you ponder the possibilities, Hunter truly says it best:
“If you engage this whole-heartedly, with a willingness to discover something new, what do you think may turn up? Is it worth a shot? It’s been my experience that at a certain point the fear starts to be recognized as irrational. Never the less, fear may fire every time you are in a similar circumstance unless or until you have created a new result contrary to the belief driving it. And that new result won’t be c if I allow my fear to stop me from going for what I want. The key is taking action in the face of fear. Action driven by the end result or experience we WANT to have.”
For more information on Hunter and his practice, check out: