Fear shows up as soon as we find ourselves in uncharted territory and BELIEVE that we don’t know what we’re doing. That piece of our brain that thrives on certainty, stability, and control tends to throw a temper tantrum when we find ourselves in uncertain uncharted territory. It triggers our fight or flight instincts big time.
Daniel Goleman calls this phenomenon (when our flight or flight instincts kick in based on a perceived threat) an “amygdala hijack.” Once we’ve been hijacked, our perspective narrows and it can be difficult to see beyond the stories our fear creates.
For example: taking the leap into life as an entrepreneur = uncharted territory everywhere.
There are days that will feel like you’re journeying all alone in the desert without water and nothing in sight but a mirage of a lake that isn’t really there. Terrifying and isolating. Lots of amygdala hijacks.
There are other days that feel like you’re on the most beautiful hike you’ve ever taken to the top of a gorgeous mountain. There’s beauty and greenery at every turn and sights you could have never imagined if you weren’t seeing them for yourself. Joy-filled and expansive.
What’s the difference between those days of joy-filled expansion and terrifying isolation? Our beliefs, which we express through the stories we tell ourselves about the circumstances we’re in.
The challenge for us as entrepreneurs is to be able to navigate this uncharted territory without living from one “amygdala hijack” (and the associated stories we tell ourselves as a result) to the next. And knowing how to “manage the hijack” when it happens.
I was recently working with one of my clients (we’ll call her Ellen) who’s taken some pretty sizable personal, professional, and financial risks in order to start a new venture that she and her partner really believe in.
Big investments in physical space. Employees. Equipment. And offering services that are new AND novel to the community.
The business is breaking new ground, running in uncharted territory, which is both exciting and scary.
This level of risk can easily throw even the most grounded individual off kilter, especially when unexpected events occur or last-minute expenses come up. (They inevitably always do!)
When you’re already living with a level of insecurity that’s new and out of the comfort zone, little events “tip the scales” of our safety instincts.
It takes just a notice of a late payment to go from, “OK, I can handle this new venture,” to, “Holy crap! How am I going to do this?!?” A new level of uncertainty brings fear RUSHING in like flood gates breaking open.
In the case of my client, lots of little things seem to be showing up these days to “tip the scales.” And it’s making it difficult for her to find the mental space she needs to lead strategically.
One of the ways we can prevent being “hijacked” is by consciously staying connected to our Inner Wisdom as often as possible. By deliberately turning our attention inward on a regular basis, we’re able to listen to the still, small voice inside. This is our divine essence.
We can also pay attention to our conscious and unconscious beliefs and bring them to the surface for review. Then, we begin gently introducing new beliefs for our brain to consider and find evidence to support.
This helps us build new neural pathways in our brains, the highways where beliefs carve deep grooves like water through the Grand Canyon. The stronger your positive neural pathways are, the more you believe, “It’s okay. I can do this.”
Another way is to practice broadening our perspective, seeking to find other ways of looking at a situation or problem beyond the most obvious ones, and generating new ideas and possibilities where they did not previously appear to exist.
Working with my client, Ellen, we explored each of these methods (and several more), allowing new energy to infuse her current “stuck” spot.
Lots of new perspectives and insights emerged, but a thin layer of fear still remained.
It’s at those times in a call when I do one of two things: lead my client through some forgiveness work (a topic for another post) or do a little possibility work. In this case, I chose the latter.
I learned about the power of “What if it’s possible” work several years ago from my dear friend and former colleague, Sara Arey. She even wrote a book ALL about it recently called, “The Universe F*cking Loves Me – Getting Out of Your Way and Into Your Flow.”
In my experience, “What if it’s possible” statements help to expand our perspectives, gently shift our beliefs, and calm our nervous systems. When this happens, it allows our Inner Wisdom space to breathe.
And when we connect with that place of possibility, calm, and space, FLOW resumes. Instead of experiencing a hurricane of negative emotions, you’re floating on a quiet river, letting the sun and breeze wash over you.
What’s so powerful about using this technique with the help of a guide is that the guide can connect with possibilities and perspectives that are “invisible” in the moment to us when we’ve been “hijacked” and are still recovering.
Breathe into the statements below as you read them and notice how you feel your energy shifting.
What if it’s possible that all of this is OK…
What if it’s possible that I’M OK…
What if it’s possible that the fear I’m experiencing is simply a story…
What if it’s possible that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be…
What if it’s possible that the solution to this problem is simple, I just need to pay attention to the signs ahead…
What if it’s possible that I’m not supposed to know exactly how to solve this problem yet…
What if it’s possible that I’ll have everything I need to solve this problem when the time is right…
What if it’s possible that I’m smarter and stronger and wiser than I’ve been giving myself credit for..
What if it’s possible that my Inner Wisdom can guide me to the next right step…
What if it’s possible that this problem will be solved more quickly than I imagine…
What if it’s possible that ALL of this is possible – right here, right now, in this very moment in time….
What do you notice in yourself as you breathe and relax into these statements? Do you feel a shift?
What feels possible for you now that didn’t before you read them?
I’d love to hear – share your story in the comments!