in: Wellness

A Year of Fearless Living: Lean into Fear & Learn to Love

Kristen Hick

It’s been twelve whole months since Dr. Hick helped us embark on a year of fearless living. Here, she offers some final wisdom to our grateful hearts.


Well folks, it’s been a year—a year of stepping outside of your comfort zones, imagining how your life, work, relationships, and health could be different, of expanding yourself beyond what you thought was possible—through fearlessness.

Can you believe it? I certainly cannot.

As I prepared to write the final piece (of many chapters to be written on life’s journey) of this year’s series on Fearless Living in 2015, I looked back at where it all began—and I encourage you to do the same.

Origins of a Journey

My journey in fearlessness was born on the ski mountain, just about this time last year. Looking down the ski mountain, scared—no, terrified—of losing control, going way too fast, and getting hurt. These three feelings can pretty much sum up my go-to fears (and why don’t we sprinkle a little fear of imperfection and failing to spice things up).

As I recall, I made it down the mountain—albeit slow and a little wobbly. On my way back up the lift, I watched as the young skiers bombed down the mountain, fearlessly. It was then that my ski-mate asked me, “Why don’t you do what they do—ski without fear?”

It was then that my best day of skiing and a year-long journey in fearlessness began.

Lesson #1: Fearlessness Is Not the Absence of Fear

Something that took me the better part of the year to figure out was that my ski-mate was wrong.

Yes, my ski-mate’s message did get me down the mountain, and helped me face my fears of losing control, going too fast, and getting hurt. However, I did not make it down through an absence of fear—one of many misconceptions about fearlessness.

The first, and perhaps the most important, lesson that I learned about fear is that fearlessness is not the absence of fear; fear is essential to access the power of fearlessness.

Lesson #2: Fear Is Essential for Growth

Fearlessness requires you to not only face the fear, but to use the fear. If you act without fear in mind, you are not able to access its power or the potential to help you grow through facing the fear.

All growth-worthy experiences involve some amount of fear, be it slight uneasiness to seemingly insurmountable terror (think: me at the top of the ski mountain).

It is only through leaning into the fear that you grow. This means that if you stay within the familiarity and safety of your comfort zone—in relationships, work, family, finances, sex, health, etc.—you will stay safe and comfortable, but growth will be limited if not, impossible.

Lesson #3: Getting Real with Failure

One of the scariest parts about living fearlessly is risking failure. If you thought a year of Fearless Living was going to be absent of failure, you thought wrong. The thing is, failure—or the risk of failure—can only occur through stepping outside your comfort zone, facing your fears as well as the possibility that it might not work out.

The amazing part of it all, is even when you “fail,” you haven’t really failed at all. Researcher and storyteller, Brene Brown Ph.D., speaks so vividly about failure and vulnerability. She professes that it is only through being vulnerable enough to risk failure that you grow.

You see, even when you “fail” you are given the opportunity (if you choose to see it as such) to learn valuable lessons from your experience of stepping outside your comfort zone, and into the fearless zone. And, if you embrace the opportunity to learn, tweak, and then attempt again, you have succeeded in growing through the experience.

Lesson #4: Grace for Yourself and Others

mystic, nature, forest, woodsThere are two choices when it comes to coping with our own “failures” and the mistakes of others:

1.) You can beat yourself and others into learning the lesson.

or

2.) You can give yourself and others a little grace in learning the lesson.

This year, I learned that I am my own worst critic and beat myself up far more than is necessary or helpful. I am not sure who was the first of many people who planted the seed of grace in my life this year; however, I recall vividly a dear friend telling me in a moment of beating myself up for not being as productive as I wanted on a break between clients, “Give yourself grace—maybe getting ready for the next wave of clients meant taking a breath and doing whatever felt right at the time.”

Thinking back, I believe this message was being delivered in various ways this year, but it finally rang true. It’s easy to not only hold ourselves to extremely high standards, but we also do with those who are close to us.

Practicing fearlessness also means allowing ourselves grace when we perceive “failure”, which in turn, paves the way to show grace to others.

Lesson #5: FOMO and FORC are No Joke

This one is a hard one, and truthfully one that may take a lifetime to master. Whether you struggle with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) or FORC (Fear of Relationship Commitment), fear keeps you anywhere but in the present moment and present relationship. 

Just as the fear of life passing us by keeps us in a vicious cycle of feeling compelled to do more while enjoying less, fear of relationship commitment keeps potentially well-suited couples in a perpetual cycle of never making it past the door step of love, continually searching for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect.

Nasty ol’ fear is a tough one to overcome. However, this year I witnessed personally and through others’ experience how leaning into the fear—whether it be missing out on a prime photo op or leaning into the scary, yet exciting possibility with the great guy/gal in front of us—transformed the way people lived and loved.

Lesson #6 Fearlessness Changes All Relationships

You bet I saved the best for last; and it was the biggest and most profound of all the lessons learned this year.

While I will admit that my journaling habits were not as loyal as I had planned them to be during this process, I was dedicated to looking fear in the face just as much as I was encouraging all of you to do.

Some of the fearless highlights involved setting and holding new boundaries with family, take scary but growth-worthy chances (i.e., try speaking in front of the MeetMindful community on fearless dating), communicating about some very difficult topics, choosing to rise in love instead of falling, and talking openly and unapologetically about needs and wants.

Through stepping outside my comfort zone and practicing fearlessness, each and every relationship radically changed—as did I.

As I shifted from fear as a roadblock to fear as a tool, I started to have more compassion and love for myself, and for others. I realized that fear—sometimes in the form of judgment—was a fantastic tool to remain safe and guarded; whereas fearlessness opened my mind and my heart to others.

Through utilizing the power of fearlessness in all my relationships, it ultimately changed the way I thought and felt about myself, and my perceived limits. Breaking through the wall of fear that limited my work, my relationships, and my relationship with myself, felt like opening up a door to uncharted territory. Where it will lead, I don’t fully know. However, I do know that what’s possible now because of this journey through fear toward fearlessness is limitless.

I have greatly appreciated the experience of exploring and writing about fearlessness this past year. It has literally transformed my life and would love to hear how it has and will transform yours. Please feel free to reach out to share in the comments or by contacting me directly through my website CenterForSharedInsight.com

[image: via shutterstock]

About the Author:

Kristen Hick Kristen Hick

Kristen Hick, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in the area of awakened dating and healthy relationships. She is the founder of Center for Shared Insight, a private psychotherapy practice in Denver where she and her clients focus on Individual Relationship Therapy. Dr. Hick’s expertise lies in helping individuals create healthy, meaningful, and loving relationships with others through healing, strengthening and transforming their most essential relationship, with themselves. When not helping clients fulfill their personal relationship goals, she enjoys the Colorado outdoors, capturing life through photography, practicing yoga and hopes to one day manage her first unassisted headstand. You can connect with Dr. Hick on her site, Facebook or Google+

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