Finding the courage in fear
During the process of designing the Know You More Self-care resource, and when launching it, there was one question that kept coming back to us from our fellow coaches; Why do you use the word 'fear' in the resource? This blog post aims to answer that question.
The Know You More Self-Care Resource acknowledges the emotion fear from the start and frames the conversation around reactions to fear, driving our learning and growth by encouraging us to look at the emotion.
What is fear?
Fear is one of many emotions commonly felt in a time of crisis, and is defined as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined”. When we feel threatened we feel Fear. Fear can be felt differently by each person, for different reasons, threat to our safety, our health, our security, our honour, our integrity. Some might have felt fear during the COVID-19 pandemic, or other situations such as environmental changes, a reorganisation at your company, losing your job, public speaking or even by having a baby.
Often we understand fear to mean that something bad is going to happen to us. When in fact the emotion is a piece of data, a message if you like, telling us to pay attention to what might be harmful and gives us the opportunity to remove the threat or deal with it. Fear is actually a very useful emotion and helps us to take care of ourselves by anticipating and avoiding potential danger. This is where the relationship of fear and courage come in. When talking to anyone who has done a courageous act, they have done so because of being afraid of something that sparked their bravery. We often don’t see ourselves as being courageous but in fact we exercise courage in response to fear all the time. An example where we demonstrate courage is when we learn how to swim because of our fear of drowning. There is no need for courage if we are not afraid of something. Without fear we can’t have courage. So, we ask, can we look at our Fear and ask ourselves is this my call to exercise courage and take action?
Common responses to fear
Everyone reacts to fear in different ways, some may even struggle to understand that their actions are driven by fear. Some push aside the feelings they are experiencing, it feels challenging and we would prefer not to confront these things to maintain some sense of normal day to day life.
Some react to fear by becoming more emotional, aggressive, by struggling to concentrate, or unable to make decisions, while others may initially become even more productive or creative in the face of fear. Those who react in a way that can be perceived as positive are still helped by labelling the reaction early as extended periods of this behaviour may lead to burn out. Bottling it up or reacting in these ways can act as emotional painkillers. They may help dull the pain for a little while but it doesn’t resolve the cause of the pain, i.e. the message the emotion is trying to give us.
Self-care and fear
Everyone, no matter how we react in a time of crisis, needs to pay attention to their own wellbeing and make sure to allow the self-care needed to get through it. As we all know, we have to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others.
Once we stop struggling to eliminate distressing emotions like fear, they can teach us valuable lessons about what is important, helping us to identify priorities and realign our actions. Ways to do this are:
- Listen – noticing and labelling the emotion, when feeling a sense of fear, threat or worry.
- Reflect – what is the purpose of this emotion, what is it trying to tell me, what do I want to protect, what’s important to me around these thoughts of fear? Are they connecting to other emotions such as anxiety, worry, dread, anguish?
- Act – with new awareness, channel this into taking active steps to help myself move forward.
Don’t let fear take over and cause inaction. The key to remember is that fear is a normal human emotion and it is our friend. The Know You More Self-Care Resource enables us to identify what fear, or associated emotions, we may feel during a crisis and leads us to take steps to the learning and growth we can achieve by listening to the emotion.
Fear is a difficult emotion to handle for many, no matter if it is real or imagined. This is why we ask anyone who finds the exercise challenging or struggles answering the questions to talk to a trusted friend, a professional coach or even a therapist if needed. This resource is a first step in creating progress and allowing us to be our best self through a time of crisis.
When we learn to become more aware of our emotions we can identify strengths we have used previously to support ourselves successfully in similar situations, and this way we build confidence for the future. Fear is a natural emotion and a natural reaction when we feel threatened. By being present, curious and accepting of these feelings, it will help us anticipate the pitfalls and prepare more effective ways of coping during critical moments. This is our belief why Fear belongs in the Resource.
“Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” – Sir Winston Churchill
Download your printable copy of the ‘Know You More ‘Self Care in a Crisis’ resource here.