Is fear holding you back?
“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
When I was in the thick of my illness, with my face a bit of a mess, even I was grossed out. I still had to take the kids to school, pick up groceries, work etc. A lot of the time, I just wanted to hide away in the safety of my own home. I also knew I needed to get out and about amongst people for my own well-being. For the first time in my life, I was really scared and hurt by what people might think of me. I felt judged and embarrassed, and most of all I was scared that I might look and feel like this forever. What if I never got better?
Do you let your fear get in your way? Does it stop you from doing what you want and need to do to live your best life? As human being’s we are wired to respond to fear. It’s unavoidable.
So, what exactly is fear (forget everything and run!) and why does it hold us back? What are some useful strategies to combat your fear or anxiety?
Fear is the emotion caused by the perceived threat of danger, pain or harm. It can be very real in a physical sense and your body does not know the difference between the fear caused by a sudden actual event such as an earthquake or being chased by a shark through the water, or a perceived threat, such as a fear of lightening or public speaking!
Most of us know fear, or its cousin anxiety as that uncomfortable feeling you get that causes you to take a back seat in life, play it safe, turn and look the other way. It’s a manifestation of all the doubts you have. It prevents you from getting the most out of your life, reaching your goals, achieving your version of success.
At some point we have all experienced fear of the unknown, fear of the known, fear of failing, fear of success, fear of being alone, fear of rejection. This fear can be crippling. For most of us, it creeps up on us slowly and robs us of achieving true happiness. We don’t even recognise that fear is playing a part in every decision that we take.
It is a uniquely human trait to be able to fear something that might happen. Having these fears is natural. Letting them stop you from going after what you want in life is a tragedy!
We have all let fear hold us back at some point in our life. I certainly have. Many years ago, a friend gave me a copy of the words of Marianne Williamson from her book “A return to love”, of which the start and finish bound this blog. I have read them many, many times and have used those words to remind myself to live an authentic life, that is true to me. That doesn’t mean that I no longer feel fear, I do. And, sometimes I let it hold me back.
What I have learned is there are some key steps you can take to combat your fears.
Recognise and name what it is you are afraid of.
Acknowledge the emotion you are feeling (emotions are rarely based in logic so you can’t fight them with logic). Sit with it and truly feel it. There is nothing wrong with having this fear. Write it down. When you get it out of your head, it loses its hold. Keeping it bottled up in your mind makes the fear so big it permeates everything in your life.
Now ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?”
Really go for it here and imagine everything you can. If you lose your job or quit to try something else and it doesn’t work out, can you get another job? If you ask someone what they really think about the book you have written. If you test it with your target audience and they don’t like it, can you cope? If you Iook like this forever and you never get better, can you cope?
I used to tell myself that if Turia Pitt can survive the challenges she has faced, then my challenges are a walk in the park on a nice summer day by comparison. It’s often not as bad as you think.
Follow this up by asking yourself “What do I have to gain?”
If you let your fear go and just do it, what are all the possible things that could go right? Could you learn that your book is great for your audience or you need to make some adjustment for it to make the NY Times best seller list (or whatever your goal was)? If you quit your comfortable, well-paying but dissatisfying job, could you create the space for you to work out what you really want to be doing, how you really want to be contributing to society and in so doing find the personal satisfaction you so crave. If you have to make some changes to your lifestyle to have better health and wellbeing, will your relationship with yourself and those you love be all the better for it? Will giving up the alcohol and being the only one in the room not drinking be so hard if you know the consequence of continuing the drinking (even in moderation) is so bad for your health?
Prepare yourself. Get all the skills and info you need and then make a plan.
Talk to me if you need help with this!
Be in the present moment. Stop worrying about what might happen.
Focus on right now and do something that brings you closer to your dreams. Take small steps. If you are looking at changing your career, can you take some training that will give you more confidence so that you have the skills to take on your chosen career. If you want to sail around the world – do you need to do a skipper’s course, join an open water racing crew etc. If you want to double your business turnover, do you need to create a new marketing campaign or find someone with the expertise to help you. If you need to make some changes to your diet and lifestyle, do you know what you need to do and how? Get some help if you don’t.
To borrow from NIKE – Just do it! Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Think of it like an experiment, keep trying and adjusting until you get there. If you don’t even try, then you have let yourself down, the consequence of which is likely to be your satisfaction with your life.
Celebrate your successes! Big or small, take a moment to stop and celebrate.
Go back to being in the present moment as often and possible.
Are you letting fear of what might be regarding your health from actually finding out what is wrong? Or, fear of how hard it might be to make the changes you need, stopping you from taking action?
Ask yourself, are you letting fear take away your incredible life?
“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”