Today is my first official solocast and I’m going to sharing some insight & tools you can use when dealing with fear.
When you listen back to my guest interviews, I usually ask a version of the question “Why do you feel it took so long to do <insert this fabulous thing my guest is doing>?”. Sometimes, my guests answer this before I even need to ask.
In all instances, even with varying descriptions, the distilled version of the answer, is fear.
And I think we can all understand that feeling: trying to make major changes, can be scary. Unknowns and circumstances, especially in this time of our lives feel as if they can threaten with a mortgage, kids in college + the years closer between now and retirement.
I help my clients identify is how fear is showing up for them. Interestingly, we often only associate fear with that adrenaline-rushing-butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling of being on a roller coaster or standing on the 33rd floor of a high-rise and looking out the window down to the street. Or we expect the flight-flight-freeze response that our stone-age ancestors needed for survival.
But modern-day fear shows up subtly and instead of helping us survive, it often is making our world very small. Our lives very unfulfilling.
Fears come up when putting ourselves in a new and different scenarios like searching for a new career path, sharing an unexpected opinion or lifestyle and even opting for a short pixie haircut after years of waist-length hair.
And wanting to go after a dream of yours? You can bet that FEAR shows up with all caps, complete with an inner critic (or who I call the Inner Meanie).
Until you identify these patterns as being fear, it is hard to know how to move forward and easy to stay stuck. Below is some practical advice on how fear may be showing up for you and ways to pull on that cloak of courage.
Procrastination, Perfectionism and Other Forms of Fear
Procrastination and perfections are two darlings can feed off of one another…leaving you stuck and not moving forward. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear and Eat, Pray, Love says that “Perfection is is fear is high-heeled shoes”. Truly…it’s fear all dressed up looking like it has the best intentions for us to succeed. But in reality Perfectionism can be hand in hand with Procrastination, it’s twin sister – who keeps us from making any progress since all efforts are not going to be good anyway.
Fear can also show up with physical symptoms as well. This is often overlooked until we realize the pattern.
When I was reading The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Dr. Gay Hendricks, I realized a correlation between upper-limiting and a heaviness in my shoulders accompanied by fatigue and a general “blah” feeling. This can be a tricky one because there are times when rest really is needed. But when I can recognize what is going on, I can say “Ahh…Fear, you are here again…” and realize that maybe little personal pep talk and a walk around the block is really in order.
And you know that Inner Meanie that I mentioned earlier? The one that says you aren’t good enough, smart enough, thin enough, young enough? Well, believe it or not, that’s fear too, even if the voice sounds like someone from your past. That chatter comes from the ego’s need for protection so even the voice is a reminder of a harsh parent or ex-partner, it’s more of a reflection of a tender self-esteem.
Often a response to the physical feelings of fear can bring out the Inner Meanie. You may take a nap because you have this overwhelming sense of being tired only to wake up and by chastised by your Inner Meanie for being “lazy”, “stupid” or “too old”. Maybe putting off a project to the last minute (procrastination) will find yourself in the middle of barrage of inner comments using words like “…never going to get anywhere with this job…”.
Being Fearless is a Myth
I’m talking a lot about fear and I know most of you are thinking, “Fear certainly isn’t serving me well so, how do I get rid of it?”
Well sorry to disappoint you…but in all honestly having fear is healthy and being fearless is a myth.
The key is learning the signals that fear is present and developing tools that keep you from allowing fear to drive the car.
We’ve explored ways that fear may be showing up for you so now let’s talk about tools.
The very first tool is to Cultivate Awareness. This means getting curious about fear. It’s hard to identify fear when we are just starting out so I recommend looking at patterns:
Look at time you procrastinate, or start something and don’t follow through. Maybe it’s a recurring fight with your spouse over money.
Look for physical signs as well: the headache that seems familiar, or a blah feeling that shows up when you really want to be energized about a new project.
Looking at times when perfection and procrastination showed up. When was it? What was at stake? Was it a task that you just didn’t want to do, weren’t interested in? Or was it something that you felt was “too big”.
Start keeping a journal of these patterns.
Second tool is to Get Curious. So after you’ve begun to identify patterns it’s time to uncover what’s behind them.
I’ll use examples from my past podcast guests.
If you are like Tiffany from episode 3, and want to write a book but you start only to not return to the project for months. Look at that…ask yourself why. Is perfection showing up? How do you want to feel when you are writing? Who would you be if you allowed yourself to write without judgement?
Maybe you’ve always wanted to start your own business like Rachel in episode 1. But every time you sit down to map out a plan you have this running conversation of “Who do you think you are? No one would want to do business with you?” Or some variation of that. You may even be able to pin point a general hollow feeling in your stomach when you think about this.
Look for perfectionism, procrastination, your inner meanie showing up. Also pay attention to the physical feelings you may be having in your curiosity.
Third step or tool is to look for small steps to expand those fear boundaries around fear.
What if you wrote three pages a day of free writing for your book? No judging, just writing?
I’ll share what I did when I was starting my business: My “Do one scary thing every day” Challenge. Step by step my boundaries of my resistance and fear grew.
I’m never going to tell you that your fear is going to go away. But what I will tell you is that you can learn to recognize fear, embrace it and move forward.
Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
I think those are pretty good words to live by.
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