I'm Not Afraid
When I’m working with clients, we talk a LOT about fear. Fear can be such a huge obstacle that at times it seems insurmountable. Here are my top three tips for working through/with/around fear:
- Give yourself permission to be afraid. Fear is a completely natural part of our existence. It’s our lizard brain, the self-protective mechanism that helps us steer clear of hungry lions, keep our distance from dark alleyways, and yes, sometimes shows up invited- like when we are speaking in front of others or writing our first novel. You don’t have to wait for the magical moment when your fear dissolves in order to go forth and pursue your dreams (or just have that awkward conversation with your boss). That’s perfectionism hiding out. That’s the “someday when, then I’ll” trap. That’s the difference between courage and bravery: “Courage involves the presence of fear, while bravery lacks it.” You can let yourself feel fear- and also take action to move closer to what it is you want.
- Focus on how it might feel after you do the thing that scares you. The uncomfortable talk we have to have with our partner, the certification test we dread taking, the handstand that absolutely terrifies us- these are all temporary hurdles we must pass through, for some greater purpose. Keeping that purpose in our sights is what gives us the strength to endure discomfort, for a while, to some other end. The conversation may not go as planned, and it’s possible you’ll fail the exam or will fall out of the pose. We can’t control those outcomes. But we can control whether or not we seize an opportunity whether we want to give ourselves a chance- to deepen a relationship, advance in our careers, or explore our bodies in a different way. Let that feeling of empowerment be what guides your course through the difficult moments.
- Know that you always get to choose. Just because there is an opportunity to face down fear doesn’t mean you have to take it. I have plenty of fears (mostly of the creepy-crawly nature) that I don’t necessarily want to move through- that’s simply not where I want to spend my energy. Your time and attention are precious, so be discerning. Listen to what your heart is asking for, and be bold when fear shows up in those areas. As for all the other “shoulds” in your life, the things that other people deem worthy, you get to decide if they’re worth your energy. You get to decide if today is the day to hold fear’s hand or if instead it’s the day to play it safe. Trust yourself in that choice, and trust that if you stay true, there will be a day when you’ll be afraid- and you’ll do it anyway.
“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” –Anais Nin