There was a point in my life when I considered myself pretty fearless. I was so uncomfortable feeling afraid that instead of avoiding, I ran head first into doing whatever I feared. In my twenties I had a persistent fear of heights. Anything higher than 10 feet off the ground and I would break into a cold sweat. So, I felt the only logical thing to do was to take up the trapeze. I conquered that fear one sweaty, shaking swinging bar at a time.
Every fear I ever had, I wanted to crush. Shock and awe was my only strategy. In a sense I wanted to scare the fear out of my system so that I could hold onto the illusion that I was in control. For quite some time I considered myself a total fear busting badass. Once I became a therapist, I learned the actual name for the behavior I had been demonstrating; counterphobia. A counterphobic is someone who seeks out a situation that they fear in an attempt to overcome it. While this didn’t sound as cool as badass, it had been my winning formula, none the less. That is, until 1997.
In that year I experienced a series of events that would change my relationship to fear, and my life, forever.
Throughout those twelve months I fell in love with my husband, Vic and his three teenage sons. (That is the good part!) I also lost my young, healthy Dad to a heart attack, and got diagnosed with cancer, not once, but twice. Then, on a beautiful summer night, Vic was waiting for me in the car so we could go out and celebrate our engagement. And as I am walking down the back steps, I see a huge stocking faced man, kneeling on Vic’s back with a gun to the back of his head. We were robbed at gunpoint. Shock and utter panic ran through my entire body. My worst fear was playing out in front of my eyes.
Whoever said, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,’ was not talking about this kind of potential loss. I had waited my entire life for this man. He was (and still is 17 years later) the best thing that ever happened to me. I won the love lottery and knew it. And in a flash, one second in time, it could all have been ripped away. It was brutal. There are no words to describe the grace we were given that night. Physically we were safe, though emotionally, I was a disaster. I knew my life would never be the same. I could not stop replaying the scene and reliving the terror.
Fear had me in a headlock and would not let go.
My inner counterphobic vanished, and I became fearful of everything. The therapist in me knew I was having a traumatic response to the horrific experience. But the human in me was incensed. I was so angry that I was afraid to be alone in my own house. Loud noises caused a visceral reaction, and my hyper vigilance around safety was sucking the joy out of everything. (And PS the pit bull, the bedside knife AND the tricked out security system with a panic button behind the bed…did not touch the fear one bit.)
I did not want to continue to exist in the prison that feared created. I recognized that I had a choice and needed to get into action. I worked through my own trauma with a brilliant therapist and then committed myself to becoming an expert on the mind body connection to fear so I could help others. I spent the next seventeen years researching and becoming an expert. I incorporated into my body of work, all that I learned through my own therapeutic process and with my clients in my private practice. I have been teaching others how to live fearless and fear ever since.
You don’t have to have a worst fear experience to gain knowledge about your relationship to fear. How is fear, big and small impacting your daily choices? Do you choose the safe option because of fear? Do you withhold your deepest desire from your closest friends or your partner because of fear? Are you lead by your ego instead of your heart because of fear? Taking time to sit with your deepest and your daily fears will give you clarity about what is actually driving your decisions. Lean in instead of looking away and before you know it, you will have fear in a headlock, instead of the other way around.
Thank you Daily Love family for a space in which I could share such a personal story. My hope is that you can take your fear and transform it into freedom. (Tweet-worthy!) Be brave. I know you can do it. In the comments below share with us your greatest fear. Sometimes outing the fear alone has the power to diminish its influence in your life. Whatever your fear is know that you are more powerful than it. And when you take time connecting to this power there is no telling what you can accomplish. As always, take care of you.
Love Love Love
As a licensed therapist, transformation coach, and mentor to well-known personalities in wellness, empowerment, and entertainment, Terri Cole is honored to help clients, and now readers like you, remain present and grounded, despite life’s complexities. She provides sustainable, action-oriented solutions you can implement TODAY that allow you to live a life that thrills you. Follow Terri on Facebook and Twitter.