“There is no illusion greater than our fear” ~ Lao Tzu

Fear is one of the most primal human emotions. When was the last time you experienced the feeling of fear? What were you fearful about? Perhaps it was a car that came dangerously close to you on the freeway, maybe it was anticipating a presentation you had to give at work. Or, possibly it was fear of looking deeper inside yourself because of what might be revealed.  

All of these things can produce the fight or flight response inside of us. These experiences are tied to feeling vulnerable and potentially unsafe. But, while some fears are present to protect us from legitimate harm, other fears are perceived, produced solely from our thoughts and have no real basis in truth.  

The dictionary defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc. whether the threat is real or imagined.” 

As human beings, it is our purpose to grow and expand throughout our lives. The illusion of fear can stand in the way of your happiness & your growth. When you live with self-doubt and negative self-talk, it manifests in imagined perils that keep you from those experiences that will foster your advancement.  

“How do I confront my imagined fears?”, you may ask yourself.  For starters, you need to realize that your mind is the culprit. The job of your mind is simply to keep you safe. When you come upon a new experience that is out of your current comfort zone, you may initially feel excited to pursue it, but chances are your mind is going to have something else to say about it.  

“Who are you to do this?” “You don’t know what you’re doing!” “What if you fail?” “What if everyone judges you?”   

I had all of these thoughts running through my head for years. In my youth, acting was the only thing I had really wanted to do with my life. After 15 years of struggling at that career, my perception was that I had failed because I wasn’t making a living at it. (Never mind that only about one percent of actors actually make it their living!) I had a huge fear of starting something new and I had very little belief in my ability to achieve success. All my inner conversations were based on my perception of not being worthy of real accomplishment. This false belief created an internal paralysis until I finally found the courage to take the first step onto a new, inspired path.  

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear” ~ Jack Canfield 

We can talk ourselves in or out of anything and rationalize our debilitating self-talk as tough love common sense. This only proves to keep us stuck and living small for weeks, months and years on end. What if you could break free from your fears and experience all the freedom, joy and fulfillment waiting on the other side? I’m going to share five ways to move through your fear and begin to live from a place of courage and confidence.  

1. Ask Yourself Powerful Questions 

Since fear lives in the mind, place your attention somewhere else. Quieting your mind and focusing on your heart is a great way to immediately release fear. Try this: close your eyes and imagine your heart; see it opening like a flower allowing love to flow freely in and out. Next, attune to your breath. With each inhale let your thought be, “I breathe in peace.” Feel that sense of peace wash over you like a gentle wave. Then, with each exhale let your thought be, “I breathe out worry” (“anxiety”, “fear” or whatever word you choose). Keep your attention on your breath, in and out, until you feel relief.  

2. Ask Yourself Powerful Questions 

Every emotion we experience has a vibration and frequency that is matched by the Universe and manifests in your life. The higher the vibration, the better your life will be. Abraham-Hicks shares the Emotional Guidance Scale in which joy, gratitude, and love are the highest vibrations while fear – along with grief, depression, and powerlessness – are the lowest possible vibrations.  

Knowing this, when you feel fearful you can choose to shift your feelings to a higher vibration. It’s like choosing to change the channel on the radio if you don’t like the song that’s playing. Up-level your feelings by answering these powerful questions designed to help you focus on the positives in your situation instead of dwelling on the negative.  

–What is the best possible outcome of my situation?  

–What thought feels better than what I’m currently experiencing? 

–What will I gain if I change this situation? 

–How would it feel to be at peace with this dilemma?  

The answers to these questions may just make you realize you are more in control of your situation than you thought you were.  

3. Trust Yourself 

You. Are. Enough. You are enough simply because you were born. You are cradled by the Universe, the divine source who wants only the best for you as a loving parent would want for a child. Trust that the Universe is your co-creator and by following your inspiration you will become all you want to be. Trust in yourself and your capacity for greatness. 

Remember, there is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences that lead to growth. Failure, like fear, is a perception in your mind.  

4. Connect With Your Future Self 

Every choice you make determines the life you will be living. Take a moment and imagine yourself 5-10 years from now. Who do you want to be? What does your future self look like and sound like? See her in detail; her clothes, her hair, her smile. In order to become the woman you desire to be, what choices do you need to make? How will you address your fears in order to achieve your vision? Allow your amazing future–self to inspire the courageous choices you make each and every day.  

5. Take Action 

One of the most effective ways to eliminate fear is to take action. Action is the antidote to fear. So, whatever you are worried about and take just one step toward that goal. Your current comfort zone has imaginary walls that may seem daunting and insurmountable, but, once you break through to the other side (i.e., take action) you will be surprised how easy it is, and how good it feels.  

Using these five fear-busting tools can be a catalyst for creating the life you dream of having. While fear cannot be eliminated, you can change your relationship with it. Know the role it plays in your life and remember that it’s the bold choices you make to confront that fear that will dictate your future happiness.  

This article originally appeared in Aspire Magazine