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Reframing Fear into Desire

Have you ever tried anything that you’ve been afraid to do? Have you looked fear in the eye and ran toward it? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone and taken a risk?

I have recently. I started my own counselling business during a time of counsellor influx in my community. There are counsellors who have stepped away because the market is saturated with those in the helping profession. Some counsellors are finding jobs but not all are finding careers. I took a chance and did something I had long been afraid to do.

This got me to thinking about fear and the power it has as a barrier within our lives. It keeps us from reaching our goals by preventing us from trying. It keeps us in relationships for longer than we wish. Fear influences our decision making processes by highlighting the negatives and magnifying the likelihood of poor outcomes. It’s so powerful that we spend a ridiculous amount of time worrying about things that haven’t happened or may never occur. Or is that just me?

Don’t get me wrong. Fear has it’s purpose. It protects us from dangerous situations and keeps us safe in novel circumstances.That’s not the fear I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is the fear of venturing out of our comfort zone to reach a goal we desire to attain. The fear of taking a risk in trying something new. The fear of challenging ourselves with a task that will stretch the limits of what we think is possible.

Yet, I overcame my fear of failing and I’m not alone either. People take the proverbial “leap of faith” daily. For all of us there is something that pushes us past our fears. We jump. We risk. We try. In spite of our fears or, maybe, even because of them.

When I was in my last semester of my counselling Masters I had a professor talk about Morita Therapy. He glossed over it but I jotted down some notes and what he said struck a chord in me. As I was weighing the options of venturing into entrepreneurship, these ideas from a Japanese doctor, named Morita, bounced around in my head and encouraged me to walk toward my passion despite all my reservations.

What I know about this therapy, and I don’t know much, is that fears have corresponding desires. For example, for the fear of failure the desire is success. For the fears of rejection, death and loneliness the corresponding desires are acceptance, being fully alive and connectedness, respectively. Morita suggests that we are not to fight the fear but rather use the energy of the fear to move toward that which we desire. It promotes anxious action taking where we listen to what the fear is telling us to do and then take action. The fear then diminishes because it has done its job in reminding us what we want.

I took this to heart and used fear for a purpose and to my benefit. I noticed its presence and then determined what information it was giving me. For many, upon first glance, fear seems to point out what is scary or dangerous but if we reframe the fear we see it as a reminder of the things we want. Fear, for me, was a challenge to go for what I desired. I reframed my fear as a desire for something: the owner of my own counselling business.

We don’t need to be brazen with our decisions but we can be bold. It’s not irresponsibility that I’m advocating but courageousness. Being brave in our decisions might mean we try that 5k run, the Master degree, that bright red sundress or a new business venture. Life cannot be lived without risk or failure but it can be enjoyed without being ruled by fear. Our comfort zone will always be there. Stepping outside of it for a while doesn’t mean we can’t step back in.

This might be the moment you plan something that stretches you. Today might be the day you take some calculated risks. This week you might challenge yourself to do something you’ve always wanted to do or make a change your life needs. And if you do, let me know what gives you that extra little nudge. Share what allows you to stare fear in the face and do it anyway. Where does your courage, bravery and boldness come from?

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