Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Turning Fear into Motivation

by Shelly Guzman, RD, CD

I recently listened in on a conference call hosted by nutrition counseling guru Molly Kellogg, RD, LCSW and spiritual life coach Reverend Dr. Lorraine Cohen on the topic of "Awakening Your Courageous Heart." What I learned is something I feel I need to share.

The basis of awakening your courageous heart is to ask yourself "How do I make fear my friend, so I can use this energy as motivation as opposed to holding me back?" Talk about an "aha!" moment! Fear can be absolutely paralyzing and can prevent us from experiencing all that life has to offer. Feeling fearful does actually serve us in positive ways. Reverend Cohen outlined the following ways fear serves and protects us:

1) Fear protects us from harm by alerting us to danger
2) Fear helps us to discern a need to set healthy boundaries
3) Fear supports us in developing courage so we can show up to life's situations

Number 3 is perhaps the hardest part about utilizing our fear. How do we use fearfulness as a motivation to build faith in ourselves and in others and to move forward through all situations? According to Rev. Cohen, fear is not meant to stop us. It is meant to make us champions over the things in our lives that are frightful as opposed to being the victim. So, what you must do is to ask yourself what the real truth is about the situation that you are afraid of and determine what you need to do or who you need to be to move forward through that situation. Rev. Cohen encourages us to recognize that when we're in fear, we're not in the present, we are instead in a story of our own creation. Fear projects our thoughts into the future (i.e. if I give that speech, people might laugh at me), but in reality all we have is now. The first step in releasing your fear is to take a deep breath and come back to the present.

Bottom line: we should view fear as an opportunity to learn and grow! Easier said than done but necessary for a happier life. The good news is that we can eventually move towards reducing the power that our fear has by trusting our intuition (something that Rev. Cohen describes as a muscle developed over time). As we become better at neutralizing our fear, we are able to truly transform that fear into a positive motivator. The key is to look at the things you're avoiding and realize that chances are you can handle it or learn how to handle it or seek help to do so. With practice, you develop a courageous heart.

How does this tie into nutrition and wellness? Self care is essential for a courageous heart. When we value ourselves, we can show up in the best possible way for the things and people we care about. Rev. Cohen uses overeating as an example of not loving yourself. She says that eating food that you know in your heart is bad for you is a form of self abuse, a way of punishing yourself instead of showing compassion. When we lack self love, we dream about the success and things we want but won't let ourselves have those things. The greatest ways to unhook from fear are to cultivate self worth, to believe that you are meant to make a difference in the world, and align yourself with people who support you in reaching all you can be!

May we all find our courageous hearts! Have a great week!

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