What are the keys to unlocking our fears?
A few weeks back, Janine, our Camper in Chief, was boondocking out at the wildly popular Quartzite. She posted on the Girl Camper Facebook page that she had been getting lots of messages asking if she was afraid, and so she posed the question, “What are you afraid of?”
There were hundreds of responses and many similar in nature.
- Backing up
- Parking the trailer
- Being around people
- Not being around people
- At risk in the city/tight campgrounds/populated areas
- At risk in the country/wilderness/desert/remote areas
- Strangers knocking on the door at night
- Not being prepared enough
- Breaking down
- Getting stuck
- Being out of our comfort zone
But what I loved most about the answers were the equal amount of Girl Campers that had a positive response to some of the fears:
- I don’t think you’re more or less at risk in the country vs the city.
- I think people just fear the unknown.
- I’m confident that experience will ease my fears.
- I have occasional worries but not too many fears.
- I’m a planner and always have a backup.
- My self esteem and self confidence sky rocketed after I started towing my travel trailer solo.
- People perceive the world differently, for sure.
- I wasn’t prepared for several things and I learned that I could figure it all out!
- I worried way more than I needed to!
- Be aware of your surroundings, trust your gut, take precautions (lock doors, etc) and have the time of your life.
- I met so many amazing strangers who are now friends.
As divided as we are about the nature of our fears, we are connected in the emotion of being afraid. And yet, almost equally, many of us are bound together by emotional resilience and understanding our potential. So what’s a Girl Camper to do? How can we be less afraid and find our hidden potential?
First, we have to understand the definitions of potential and fear. Potential, as an adjective, means; capable of being or becoming. As a noun it means; a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed. And what is the definition of fear? As a noun; fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether real or imagined. As a verb; fear is to consider or anticipate (something unpleasant) with a feeling of dread or alarm.
Now that we understand this, we can start to peel back the layers of our fears so we can focus on our potential.
Key #1; The Illusion Layer
As Americans, we have this illusion that we should be living—or striving for—a charmed life. A perfect life. A life with no pain, no grief, no difficulties. This is an unattainable and dubious goal yet we fight tooth and nail trying to achieve it. I believe this is so much the source of our unhappiness in this country. When adversity does happen—and it will always happen—we become frozen in fear with the (false) belief that we can’t move past it; that we’re not capable of moving past it. Even though nothing could be father from the truth, this has, over time, become our story. The story we have learned to tell ourselves.
Many of our fears can be eliminated simply by walking through them and knowing the skills we need will unfold when we need them. As one GC wrote, “I wasn’t prepared for several things and I learned that I could figure it all out!” She couldn’t be more right! We have all been through difficult experiences and made it through them. Every single one of us. Think back for a moment of some of your most challenging times—your past fears—and notice that you survived them all. Maybe it was childbirth, changing career paths, learning to dance, or starting a business. Maybe it was battling an illness or disease, letting go of a marriage or lover, or learning how to drive a car. These were once very valid fears at first, but, by simply taking a step forward, and then another, and another, you walked through your fear and turned it into an accomplishment. I believe as we get older we forget these things because they have been woven into the history of our lives. After we let go of the fear—and turned it into a talent or triumph—we simply file it away. And as it should be! This builds our resilience muscle and prepares us for what’s next.
Also, part of the illusion of living a charmed life is that many of our fears are also just illusions. They are based on the narrative we have created over the years. We put on our filters—based on our experiences, bad or good—and then rationalize the narrative in our favor. When chaos ensures, we reach for any convenient narrative to justify why we are acting the way we are. So, maybe we need to peel this layer back like an onion and really look at the fear to see if it’s valid. Get to the root of it.
Ask the tough questions to get to the core objective truth:
- Am I really afraid or has someone—including myself—told me I’m not capable, which makes me feel afraid?
- Am I afraid because someone else has this fear, which means I should too?
- Am I afraid because the term “afraid” is engrained in my vocabulary and I speak it now out of habit?
- Am I afraid because I will be seen as “different” in my social circle?
Example: Am I using the term “I’m afraid of [insert fear here]” because it’s a way to stay in my comfort zone or do I have a valid reason for it? But peel it back another layer because this really translates to “Am I afraid of living my best life?” So I’m not really afraid of said fear, I am afraid of putting myself out there, trying something new, challenging myself, and facing my truth. This is pure, raw, unadulterated honesty about ourselves that many of us have never looked at before.
Is my fear a fact or an illusion? Understanding it’s not a valid fear is a key to changing your narrative about it. And I should add that it’s okay if we don’t want to change our story once we have peeled back our layers. It’s our story! We may find, however, that soon we will outgrow it.
Key #2; The Transference Layer
Our past has formed our beliefs, yet we don’t drive our tow vehicles by looking in the rear view mirror, do we?
We need to make our decisions based on what is happening now, not what has happened before. We need to stop justifying our decisions based on past decisions or experiences—which is called faulty thinking and which only keeps us stuck with our wheels spinning in the mud. We need to remember that wherever we go, we take ourselves with us. Are we taking experiences from our past and applying them to our present? Are we taking the best part of our history forward or our worst part? This is a choice! Did we feel threatened or afraid as a child? Were we violated, abused, harassed, and exposed to situations in our past where we felt unsafe? I’ll wager that, sadly, most of us can answer yes to this.
So this begs the question; are we transferring these feelings of our past to our present (or potential future) situation—which I assure you is not the same situation—and creating our fear based on this? Do we truly believe that the same thing will continue to happen to us over and over again as adults? This is another layer we need to strip away. To look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves, truly honest that our applied belief is insufficient. This, then, becomes an opportunity to change. To peel back another layer and feel the core. So, knowing the difference between past and present—and not transferring— is another key to overcoming our fears. And if these types of experiences are still happening to us as adults, then we need to work on the next layer.
Key #3; The Awareness Layer
What are we giving our attention to? What words do we speak to ourselves? Thoughts and words are energy and when we think we are projecting a pure thought, we may be surprised to know we are dong the opposite. Most of us don’t think deliberately either, we think by default. What does this mean exactly? It means we are not intentional, focused, and clear in our thoughts actions and deeds. Worrying only predicts our future and has no other benefit whatsoever.
Try this experiment and see if you feel the difference between the two. I’ll use towing a trailer as the fear.
DEFAULT THOUGHT/WORDS VS DELIBERATE THOUGHT/WORDS
Default: I am afraid to tow a trailer. Deliberate: I’m actually a pretty good driver, I’ll bet I can handle this just fine.
Default: I’ve never towed anything in my life. Deliberate: There’s a lot of things I’ve done in my life that I never thought I could do, and I did them.
Default: I don’t think I’m capable of towing. I don’t know the first thing about it. Deliberate: I’ll bet I can figure this out. There are others who know how to do it and I can learn from them.
Default: What if I break down? Deliberate: I believe that there are plenty of people out there that can help. I will make sure I have roadside assistance.
Do you notice that the deliberate thought/words feel lighter and more satisfying? Try this with any fear (or negative thoughts) you may have. Just keep reaching for something that feels better. Many of our fears are based on our vocabulary. If we give our attention to fears and negativity we’re only going to get more of that back and not just about that specific fear, but many other things in our lives. Another good trick is to replace your fear with curiosity of the unknown. Many of us fear the unknown but the idea of being curious of it changes our thought process as well.
Peeling back these layers are the key to how we rewire our brain and unleash our potential. It’s not our fault how it all started—or rather, our story we’ve been telling— but it is our responsibility to change things if we want to experience our lives the way we intended to. Experience life to its fullest.
Of course there are also more tangible tools available to help with our security and give us a feeling of safety;
- Motion lights
- Outdoor camera
- Backup camera
- Dash cam
- Sleeping with your key fob (truck alarm) and wasp spray next to your bed
- Roadside assistance
- Pin dropping on Google to let a friend or family know where you are.
- Tracking apps such as Hum (Verizon) or Find My Friends (Apple)
- Packing a gun/weapon
- Situational awareness
- Self defense classes
Leave your comments below if you have additional ways to feel safe!
Remember that the more we focus on our fears the more we’ll feel fear. So peel back those layers and get living again!
**If you are struggling with deep anxiety and fear, please seek the help of a professional psychiatrist or counselor. No amount of self-reflection or personal growth discovery will help if there is undiagnosed PTSD, mental health, or trauma.
Author: Lorri Weisen is the Girl Camper Health and Wellness Expert. A recent widow, she travels the country full time in her Little Guy Max teardrop trailer exploring, experiencing and sharing what’s good—good adventures, good health, good life.