Transforming Fear into FaithBy Shelley Riutta, MSE, LPC
February 25, 2008
Shelley Riutta MSE, LPC, Inner Bonding facilitator and Holistic Psychotherapist shares tips to help you shift from fear into faith.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you feel you cannot do.”
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Faith is a bird that feels the dawn breaking and sings while it’s still dark.”
When I first began to do Breathwork with clients, I would sit alongside of them as they would do the deep breathing pattern that is a part of the Breathwork process. At times I would feel the temperature change in the room and it was like a cool breeze was moving through the room. Moments after I would feel that sensation, the client would comment to me that they were feeling a lot of fear and that they felt cold. I was amazed how fear had such a profound impact on their body and that I could also feel this emanating from them as well. Such is the power of fear on a person.
How does fear manifest in your life? Do you get immobilized? Do you worry obsessively? Do you try to control others or the outcome of events? Does it stop you from pursuing what you really want? Does it keep you up at night? We are living in a culture of fear---with fearful events being a main focus on the news, written about in the newspapers and frequently talked about in the conversations with others.
Years ago I made a decision to not watch the news or read the newspaper as a way for me to eliminate this bias of fear and negativity in my life. It is not that I don’t care about what is happening in the world—it is that I believe that there is a much broader range of news that reflects more accurately what is happening in the world. For every act of hate and unkindness there are 100’s of acts of true kindness and caring happening between people. We have become addicted to the sensationalism of horrific and dramatic events. This takes a toll on us and our sense of well-being in the world.
How does this affect us personally? I believe that because of the energy of fear being so present in the world that we are affected personally---just like I was affected by the fear of my client who was in a state of fear. It is like moving through an energy of fear in your day to day life and if you are not conscious and aware of this you can get pulled down by it. What I have noticed in my work with clients is that if they move into a state of fear---this can be exacerbated by the collective fear that is already present in the broader energy of the world. So what I do is work with clients is to assist them with tools to work through their fear quickly so they don’t get stuck in it. The following are reasons that I don’t like clients to get stuck in fear.
Reasons to NOT get Stuck in Fear
1. Being in Fear makes you susceptible to being pulled down into a greater amount of fear by the fear that is present in the world. So what might be a small fear can turn into a much bigger fear because of the collective fear that is in the air. Like attracts like---so the denser energy of fear will attract more fear---and blow the small fear you had into a bigger fear.
2. Being in Fear removes you from the Flow of Life- The natural flow of life is easy and light. Being in fear creates a dense, heavy energy in your body so you can’t connect with the lighter flow of life. When you are in the flow of life you will get insights and intuition about how to handle the situations that you are faced with. When you are in the denser energy of fear you are cutting yourself off from these insights that could actually help you with the situation at hand.
3. Fear clouds your vision of situations- When you are looking through the lens of fear you won’t be able to see situations clearly. I remember a client of mine who was in a state of fear and listened to a phone message. She interpreted the message negatively and was upset. She said later when she was in a good mood she listened to the message again and was very surprised that she heard it so differently. She really got that her state of mind was influencing how she “heard” the message. So staying out of fear will help you see situations more clearly so you can respond in a way that will be most helpful to you.
4. Most Fear is Not Real- Most of our fears are projections of things will never come to pass. It is a non-productive emotion. In a classic study of worry, college students kept a "worry journal" for a solid month. At the end of that time, the students were asked to carefully go over their list, and check each worry that had actually come true. On the average, the researchers found that around 90% of the things these students worried about never came true at all! The researchers concluded: worry is not worth the effort. The only function of true fear is when it is of real and present danger—like you are going to be attacked by a wild animal and your life is in danger. That is fear of real and present danger. Fortunately we live in a country and time period that is relatively safe and our lives are not threatened on a daily basis. The other thing to remember is that we are eternal spiritual beings and we cannot be “killed”. Our physical body can be harmed and our human form can die—but we—our essential Spirit does not die. So our physical form can be hurt---but our Spirit can never be hurt, damaged or killed.
5. Fear is not Fun-Being in fear is very unpleasant and definitely not FUN. Our time here on earth is so short—we may as well have a lot of fun. Fear is not productive and does not move us ahead in our life—it actually holds us back. Ultimately you have the choice of where you are channeling your energy---and if the choice is between fear and fun---choose fun.
So you see the importance of not being in fear. Now we will go over tips to help you to shift from Fear to Faith. The more you practice these- the easier it will get –and then you will be living your life from a feeling of strong faith and trust rather than fear.
Tips to Transform Fear into Faith
1. Trust that you are being led to your Highest Good- How would you feel if you knew that everything you were experiencing in your life---the joyous events and the challenging ones were all for your highest good—and these events were leading you to something even better? So much worry and fear is related to the fear that things are not going to go as we would like them to and that we will miss out on something we think would make us happy. If you look back on your life notice that the most challenging times for you were the most transformative and did lead you to something better—even beyond what you could have conceived in your own mind. Trust that this will continue. Trust the divine unfolding of your life and that things are on track even if you feel in the moment that they are off track.
2. Ask yourself “What Can I Learn from This?”- When you are gripped with fear about a situation see if you can ask yourself—“How can I use this situation to learn and grow---rather than to be immobilized in fear?” This will shift you immediately from feeling like a victim---“this is happening to me and I have no power”—to a more empowered stance—“how can I use this to grow—what gift of learning does this situation contain?” Moving into a more empowered perspective will automatically move you out of fear and allow you to learn from the situation rather than get stuck.
3. Identify what you are telling yourself that is creating the Fear- Fear is actually self-created by what you are telling yourself about the situation. Let’s say that you feeling fear that you may lose your job. If we track back in your mind to the thoughts you were thinking that were creating the fear the thoughts would be “The economy is not doing well—I may lose my job” and then the next thought “If I lose my job—what will I do---there are no other jobs in my field in this area, I will have to move.” “I don’t want to move—I really love it here—now I am really afraid.” This is an example of the domino effect of a fearful thought---one fearful thought leads to another –to another etc. until the fear is quite big.
What if at the beginning you caught that fearful thought and responded back to it from a higher, trusting, more connected part of you—so in response to the thought “The economy is not doing well—I may lose my job” this higher part of you responded back “There is no evidence that my job is in jeopardy—so I don’t need to worry” or “If I would lose my job I trust that it meant that there was an even better job out there for me—that would be exciting!” You can see how the response to the fearful thought will determine if you will stay in fear or move into faith. Practice responses that are more faith focused like “I can handle whatever comes my way” “Whatever happens I know it will lead to amazing things for me” “Everything is unfolding perfectly in my life.”
4. Surround Yourself with People, Books, News that are Optimistic and Hopeful- Until you internalize a strong feeling of trust and faith you may need to make sure you surround yourself with people and information that inspire these feelings. Eliminate news that is scary, don’t spend as much time with your friend who is so fearful and don’t expose yourself to things that will trigger fear in you. Read books that are hopeful and inspirational—spend time with people who fuel your faith and trust in the goodness of life. If you have someone in your life who has strong faith and trust---notice how much easier, fun and light their life is. These people can be role models for you to embrace that level of faith also. It may take practice to stay in the state of faith, but the more you do it the easier it will be to shift into that state and stay there.
5. Do the Things You think You Cannot Do- Begin to act and take risks that move you out of your comfort zone. I remember once reading that you should challenge yourself to do one thing every day that you are afraid of. It could be something as simple as voicing your opinion when you would have kept quiet instead. It could be something bigger—like enrolling in school to pursue your dream instead of waiting until you are no longer afraid. Just because there is fear doesn’t mean you can’t do something. You can use the phrase “I feel the fear and do it anyway.” Many people who pursue and achieve their dreams report that they felt fear every step of the way, but they did not let it stop them. Don’t let fear stop you; practice acting in spite of your fear and you will get better at not allowing it to hold you back in your life.
6. Use What You’re Afraid of as Feedback for an Area You Need To Grow In- If you fears tend to have a central theme—see if you can understand where the root cause of this may be. For example if your fears tend to be around the fear of losing someone close to you—do you have unresolved grief from a previous loss of someone close to you? Or if many of your fears center around feeling insecure—you may need to do some work to see your own worth and lovability more clearly. These reoccurring fears may be signaling a deeper healing that is important for you and they won’t go away until you address the root issue. 7. Eliminate Worry- One of the main ways that fear gets expressed is through our worries. Worry is a projection of a fearful event we think will come to pass. As mentioned previously in this article 90% of our worries never come to pass. To prove this to yourself try keeping a worry journal for the next 2 weeks and just jot down your worries as they come to you. Then a month later—look at the worries and see how many of them truly came to pass.
Also notice the content of the worries—was the event you worried about something you could control or not control? If it is an event in which you have no control---than why worry? I have worked with clients who have an irrational belief that if they worry about something enough that they can somehow prevent that event from happening. Once they get that this doesn’t work and is just causing them needless suffering—they are able to let it go. If it is a worry that you do have control over than instead of worrying, focus on planning.
8. Plan more and Worry Less- If the event you are worrying about is within your control and you can have a positive impact on what happens -than channel your energy into planning, not worrying. This will help you shift from feelings of powerlessness that come from worrying—to a more positive, empowered stance of feeling in control of your life. When you are worrying—ask yourself “Is this something I have control over?” –if so then stop worrying and instead develop a plan to address it. If you don’t have control over what you are worrying about than just let it go.
If this is challenging to do—try developing a positive statement or a positive image (you on the beach) as a replacement to the unnecessary worry. I have a client who recently told me she uses the song “You are my sunshine” as her replacement when she is in worry or negativity.
9. Don’t Worry, Be Happy- One of the major findings regarding happy people is that they worry a lot less than most others do. It is not so much that happy people have no problems or concerns; it’s just that they don’t dwell on them. The more time you spend in worry and fear—the less time you have for happiness and joy. This is your choice moment by moment. 10. Use Having Fun as a Way to Shift Out of Fear- One way to help yourself shift out of fear is to do something that is fun for you. It could be something as simple as singing your favorite song, listening to music you love, watching a funny show that cracks you up. Fun and fear are opposite emotional states and moving into fun can help you let go of your fear. So next time you feel fear or panic set in say to yourself “It’s time to go and have some FUN!”
Staying in Faith rather than Fear will help your life flow more smoothly. If you can imagine your life as a float down a river—the more you relax and stay in faith, you can enjoy the journey more –trusting you are going to even better places than you can even imagine!
Copyright 2008Shelley Riutta MSE, LPC is a Holistic Psychotherapist in private practice specializing in Inner Bonding and Transformational individual counseling, presentations, groups and Workshops. To get her free workbook “What Do You Really Want: Finding Purpose and Passion in Your Life” visit her web-site www.RadiantLifeCounseling.com or call her at 920-265-2627.
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Today, slow down. Breathe. Walk more slowly. Be mindful - present to yourself, to others, to your environment, to Spirit. Each moment you are truly present is a moment of enlightenment.
By Dr. Margaret Paul