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  • Dora Nudelman

Prioritizing Your Fears/Phobias, Accepting Them, and Releasing Judgment

Every person on earth likely has some sort of fear or phobia to which they may or may not admit. But for those people who do admit to it, and would like to overcome it, it can sometimes feel very overwhelming to do, especially if there are a number of phobias at play. So, in order to combat that sense of overwhelm, one way that could help is to prioritize your fears based on their importance in your life.

For instance, does your fear inhibit you from doing something you want to do? Does it inhibit your day-to-day life in any important way? Or is it something that you will likely never come across? You see, because it can take quite some time and energy (and commitment) to overcome a fear, we must first ask ourselves how that fear plays out in our lives.

For example, you might have a phobia of snakes, but if you don't need to deal with snakes on a regular basis there probably isn't much urgency for you to overcome that fear. But, if you are afraid of crowds, on the other hand, it would be a lot harder to avoid that fear if you wanted to do things like go shopping, go see a movie or concert, and generally even walk down the street. For me, as an empath, I do not like images of violence, and so I avoid such television programs and movies. But it is no big deal to me that I do that. It doesn't impede my ability to enjoy my life if I flip the channel to something else or I choose to go see a comedy instead of a horror film. And so the priority for me here is not so much to desensitize myself to violence but rather to create situations for myself that do not involve such things.

We all want to be free from fear. We all want to be fearless, courageous, and super-human. But what we need to realize is that fear is not always a bad thing. In fact, fear sometimes gives us warnings of actual danger we need to avoid. Even the fight or flight response is given to us by nature for that very same reason. And so, when our fear is actually justified, that is when we are well within our right to avoid it. But fear can also sometimes be an indicator that we are stepping outside of our comfort zone to do something we truly want to do. So fear itself is not the problem. The problem comes when our perceptions of what we fear do not accurately match the reality of that fear. And it is this that causes us to unnecessarily become inhibited in our lives in some vital way.

In general, we need to cut ourselves some slack and realize that some days we might feel more courageous and adventurous than others. But that does not make us flawed. It just makes us realistic. When we set more reasonable expectations for ourselves we no longer cause ourselves to feel so much pressure to be "perfect" all of the time, which actually frees us up to better deal with our fears than when we are resisting them. When we accept our fear as just something that "is," we can then decide if/when/how we want to deal with it moving forward.

Each of us is a work in progress so there is no reason to feel down on ourselves for feeling how we feel. There are so many factors that go into how we feel, respond, and react to life that it would be cruel to judge ourselves negatively for it. For example, I used to be prone to panic attacks, and while I have come a long way to understanding why I had them and realizing how to deal with them, that doesn't mean I berate myself if I still feel anxious from time-to-time. In truth, I cannot say for certain that a panic attack won't creep up on me again. All I can do is have faith in myself, faith in what I have learned, faith in what I now know, and leniency to forgive myself if I slip. Most of all, I know that if I do feel anxiety, that is okay too. By fighting the notion of possibly having anxiety again, and worrying about it, I am more likely to bring it on. So instead, I make the decision every day that I won't expect it but I won't deny it either.

As a life coach and a self-empowerment author/writer I also teach other empathic women how to deal with and overcome their anxiety. But I do not do it from a place of pressure, judgment, or lack of flexibility. I do it by helping them understand that anxiety is not their enemy but rather something they can harness to empower themselves with a productive hyper-awareness that can be put to good use. I teach them that absolute freedom does not come from being "perfect" all of the time, or even striving for that, but rather accepting oneself in each moment so that true freedom can emerge. I teach them to know that while they may not be able to predict the future, they can certainly co-create it; but they can also deal with whatever comes their way with power and strength.

Putting pressure on myself to ensure that I never again experience anxiety or even a panic attack to me means buying into the myth of perfection. By focusing my energy on preventing anxiety I am focusing my energy on the very thing that I want to prevent, thereby creating resistance to it and subsequently perpetuating it even further. So instead, I think about my ability to handle my anxiety, realizing that it is very transitory in nature. Then I am not at the mercy of my fear anymore. By relaxing my expectations and leaning into "what it" I take the power away from my fears and place it back into my own hands. And this is what I essentially teach other empathic women about overcoming their fears: that accepting their fears, rather than avoiding them, is how they will ultimately overcome them. And that by cultivating confidence in the face of fear, and practicing self-acceptance in spite of fear, that creates an environment of true self-empowerment and self-control.

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