Facing Your Fears to Live Life to the Fullest
by Megan Montgomery
Growing up, I was always more cautious than my two adventurous brothers. You could regularly find them tearing down a steep hill on their rollerblades while I stayed on the smaller hill and slowly took my time, careful not to build up too much momentum. When they built a homemade snow jump for sledding, I refused to try it out and while I missed out on a fun moment, I felt vindicated when their joy ride ended with a trip to the emergency room and stitches. As this happened regularly over the years, some of that caution was probably wise but not all of it. Some of it was fear.
As I started to grow into adulthood, the fear just got worse and started expanding into things I had previously been able to do with ease. Things I used to love like acting ceased to be fun as I developed stage fright and even anxiety over public speaking. Heights, flying, confined spaces, it seemed like everything caused my heart to pound and my stress levels to go up, which sucked the enjoyment out of different activities and caused me to miss out on things just so I would not experience the fear.
It has been a long journey but I am happy to say I am back to the place where I enjoy public speaking again and I am more adventurous than I have ever been in my life. That’s not to say there aren’t ever situations where fear tries to come in but I have learned a number of strategies over the years to help safeguard against fear.
Do things afraid. It may sound counterintuitive but facing my fear and doing things even while I was scared of them was very helpful to breakthrough. Whether it was public speaking, singing karaoke, taking a trapeze class, white water rafting, or allowing myself to be vulnerable in my writing, I started saying yes to the opportunities in front of me. Then I climbed up to the trapeze mount for the first time, I wasn’t just filled with anxiety but I was in full-fledged body shaking mode. But, as I decided to push through and just go for it, the fear started to break off of me. It didn’t always fully break off the first time I did something but as I continued to push through my fears, I experienced new levels of freedom. What was most amazing to me is that the freedom and confidence carried through to other areas in life. Who would have known that swimming with manta rays or flying around the waters on a jet ski would help me have more courage public speaking? Or who would have thought that singing karaoke would give me the moxie to try trapeze? Somehow it’s all interconnected to me and the very act of not allowing fear to rule one area of my life helped to stop it from taking over other areas.
Get lots of quiet time. In our fast-paced, digital world it’s easy to get stressed out and anxious. I find I need quiet time with the TV off, not scrolling through my phone, in order for me to really unwind and rejuvenate. I also rejuvenate a lot quicker in nature and even though I live in NYC, I find beaches and parks to go to on the weekends when it is nice out, even if I can only get there for a few hours. In the winter, my relaxation time is more likely to be a bath with salts and lavender oil. No matter what the R&R looks like for you, I highly recommend some digital detox time.
Get plugged into God. During my quiet time when I am unplugged from everything, I like to plug into God. For me that looks like is talking to God and processing things with him, and singing along to worship music. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:18 that perfect love casts out all fear. God is love, so the more time I spend resting in that perfect love, the more I feel fear leave me. There are also a number of other verses that I like to spend time meditating on as it reminds me of who I am created to be and who God is. Another one I love is “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7.) When thoughts of fear or anxiety come up, I read these verses and remind myself that is not who I am. I am a woman of power, of love, and of a sound mind.
We all have unique gifts and strengths to offer the world and when we live our lives in fear, it holds us back from living fully. Life is too short to let fear have the upper hand. Go and do one thing today that you’ve always been afraid to do.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are ALL meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson