What's on the Other Side of Fear?

Jun 04, 2021

C. S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

No one ever told me, either.

Indeed, there is massive fear in life after loss: fear of stepping outside of our comfort zone, fear of being judged, fear of being scammed, fear of being misunderstood, fear of living alone, financial fear, fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of the future, to name just a few.

Fear prevents us from taking action, keeping us imprisoned in a life we never wanted.

Yet the good news is that fear is normal. And the even better news is that fear does not have to rule our lives.

First let’s understand why we so naturally live in fear. Our primitive brains have just one job, which is to keep us alive. When we experience the incredibly traumatic loss of our life partner, we experience unprecedented painful emotions. To our primitive brains, extreme pain means extreme danger and therefore potentially death. So naturally the primitive brain launches into overdrive. It operates in protect-us-at-all-cost mode, suggesting that danger is around every corner.  

Luckily, unique to the human brain is the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for impulse control, judgement and decision making. It’s a bit like the adult in the room, acting from a place of logic, knowing what’s best and making long term plans. This is the part of the brain that can logically respond to the primitive brain’s fear messages.  

Yet in life after loss, often the primitive brain kicks into overdrive and the prefrontal cortex falls silent. If we understand that, we can simply start to engage the prefrontal cortex more often. We do this by 1) monitoring our thoughts and 2) deciding which thoughts we allow and which ones we don’t.

A great question when we’re stuck in a hot mess of fear is, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Yes, events can happen but if you boil it down even further, the worst that can happen in this life is a feeling.

Perhaps if you step outside of your comfort zone, you will feel insecure. If you fail, you might feel embarrassed. If you enjoy your coffee date, you might feel guilty. Maybe as you begin to rebuild your life, you will feel uncertain, judged, disheartened, or insecure. But just like positive emotions, negative emotions are temporary.

Our primitive brains will always strongly suggest that we avoid difficult feelings. However, willingness to feel any feeling is the ticket to anything you want for yourself. Just on the other side of guilt, uncertainty, embarrassment and fear is everything you could possibly want for yourself.

You’ve already felt the darkest darkness. You’ve felt the soul-shattering pain of your great loss. And you’re still here, with a pulse, living this one life you’ve been given. Any other feeling pales in comparison. So the question becomes, are you willing to feel insert any feeling temporarily in order to make your way forward toward the life you want for yourself?

If you are stuck in fear and other difficult emotions and can’t seem to move forward, I’ve got you. My private coaching program called Life Reconstructed can help. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and take confident strides to your healing, simply click here and and we’ll see if it’s a fit.

Learn more about Life Reconstructed.

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