EVERYONE EXPERIENCES FEAR. Healthy fear arises from proximity to a dangerous situation: a healthy fear of falling, for example, prevents us from standing too close to the edge of a cliff. A healthy fear of injury or death prevents us from crossing the street in front of oncoming traffic.
We also experience less tangible forms of fear: fear of failure, of loss, of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. These types of fear can motivate us to positive action; yet, in the extreme they can debilitate and paralyze us to inaction. Where does the balance lie between normal, healthy fear — fear that has a logical reason for existing — and fear that is unhealthy, preventing us from becoming who we want to be?
These 7 journaling prompts will help you to identify, face, explore, and transform the nature of your fears:
- Name your fears. Complete the following sentence 5 times: “I am afraid that . . .” Then, complete the following sentence: “But, most of all, I am afraid that . . .”
- Explore the origin of your fear. With one of your identified fears in mind, answer the following questions: What is my earliest memory of this fear? How old was I? Was it triggered by an event in my life? In what ways — negative and positive — has having that fear affected my life?
- Freewrite for ten minutes on the topic: What does it mean to “face your fears”?
- Describe your physical reactions to fear. What happens in your body when you feel fearful. Do you perspire? Does your pulse quicken or stomach tighten?
- Personify your fear. If your fear were a person, what would he/she/they look like? Describe your fear’s physical attributes in detail and give your fear a name.
- Interview your fear. Ask the following questions (and any others that spontaneously occur to you).
- What does your fear care most about?
- What does your fear hope to accomplish in your life?
- How does your fear feel about you?
- Does your fear trust you? Why or why not?
- What is your fear afraid of?
- After writing about the nature of your fear, its origin, and conducting your interview, write about how you now feel about your fear. Can you appreciate its positive side, for example the ways it has kept you safe? Do you think it’s possible to change your relationship with this fear? What would happen if you did?
Writing about our fears with curiosity and interest can help us discover their origins, their purpose, and why we hold onto them. And personifying our fears helps us to see them in a different light — as a reciprocal relationship, rather than a one-way burden.
In what ways, using these journaling prompts or others, has writing about your fears helped you?