What would you do if you weren’t afraid? I know that question is all over inspirational Instagram accounts and Pinterest-y quotes. Sometimes, I wonder if it really should say, “What would you do even if you were afraid?” What do you believe in so much, you’d run through the fear anyway in order to achieve it?
As you ask yourself those questions about fear, I suggest taking note of the words that just ran across your mind or the ones that actually came out of your mouth – and how quickly those answers came to you. Those words likely hold a piece of your “truth” – or your why. It’s possible they’re also something you’ve been working pretty hard to ignore.
As a coach, I often sit across from this four-letter word. F-E-A-R, that is. (No, I don’t typically have clients cuss me out, although if that’s what’s here, we certainly make space for it!)
If you’re feeling fear, it can be helpful to break down these ideas a bit further. Let’s talk about why you’re feeling the fear and how to proceed anyway, even if you’re afraid.
Time and again, the biggest barrier between what my client REALLY wants for herself and what she has in the moment is fear. Surely this isn’t a surprise to you. This seems logical, especially as you recall the last conversation you had with your best girlfriend when you found yourself trying to convince her to do something that she was hesitant about.
The funny thing is, while we can see it in others around us, we can’t see it in ourselves. And if we do see it (feel it, to be more exact), we decide that the fear we feel is telling us that what we desire must not be the right thing, at least right now. So we decide that fear is the same as “not right, not good, don’t even think about it!”
And of course we do! Fear sends our bodies into a “fight or flight” response — to protect us from the hungry tiger in front of us that must be the cause of the fear we are feeling! Evolutionarily, that’s helpful. But where we are right now as humans…it isn’t helpful. It’s an amygdala hijack that’s hard to gain control over (though it can be done if you focus on staying open).
It’s great that our brains know how to keep us safe by making sure our bodies are ready to run at the moment it feels that first tinge of fear. But here’s the problem. It’s not a hungry tiger that is causing you fear. It’s not even something life threatening.
The fear is coming from inside the house, so to speak. It’s born from uncertainty. Because you have no idea of what the outcome will be once you take a certain action, it feels risky. That which lies outside your comfort zone won’t kill you, but your brain feels like it might! So it’s going to prevent you from venturing outside of your comfort zone.
And here’s what I often say to people about comfort zones. They keep you safe. But with that, they keep you stuck.
So then, what’s a girl to do? Stay where it’s comfortable and safe, but miles away from what you really want? Or dive out into the sea full of risk and fear to seek that thing you most deeply desire?
It’s entirely up to you.
Just know that if you are waiting for the fear to go away (to make things easier) before you go for it, you’ll likely be waiting forever.
I’ve written a lot about listening for the next right step. I firmly believe that the next right step will never steer you wrong —but it may scare you. If you know you want to do something, and you feel that undercurrent of wanting amidst the fear, here’s what I say to you: do it scared!
There may be sweaty palms and anxiety. There may be pings of nausea. But don’t fret – they will pass as quickly as they came once you’ve faced your fear and made your move.
As humans, we often have the misperception that people who do things that we’d never do ourselves just aren’t afraid of doing them. That’s not usually the case. Fearless people aren’t badasses to look up to, they’re usually deeply traumatized humans who dance around fear with anger.
Instead, the people who seem “fearless” are the ones who act and have learned to accept fear as a natural part of the process. They understand that staying safe and stuck is much harder in the long run. They also usually do these things…
If you haven’t voluntarily done anything that scares you since you took your last final exam, you might want to start small to build a bit of courage.
For one week, choose to do one small thing a day. Send an email each day to a potential client and invite them to a call with you. Commit to posting a video each day on your business’s Facebook or Instagram. Maybe go to a networking event by yourself. You get the idea.
Once you have conquered 7 small fears, try your hand at a few larger ones. You may be ready to set yourself up for a 30-day challenge! Who knows?
Take a few minutes to write down what you do each day in a journal. Then, take a few minutes to reflect on the experience.
Over time, you will see a pattern to how your fear shows up. You’ll also see how quickly it passes. Pretty soon, you’ll notice that by doing little things that scare you, those same things won’t be so scary the next time.
It’s a bit like learning to ride a bike. When you send that email invitation once, it won’t be so hard when you do it again.
Acknowledging your fear is one thing, but focusing on it is another. It’s important to acknowledge what’s happening in your body. You’re scared and feeling those biological responses. Once you’ve acknowledged it, feel free to shift your attention back to your objective, the “why” behind your action.
The more you resonate with the “why” behind your actions, the easier it will be to follow through. As an example, “I am recording and posting this video to my Facebook page because it’s important for me to show up and be consistent so I can build trust for my community.” Or, “I am sending this email to a potential client because I’d genuinely like to connect and learn more about their unique desires.”
Sometimes the easiest way to learn to do something that scares you is to remind yourself why the fear is there and that it won’t last. You can even talk to your fear if it helps. Here’s an example:
“Fear, I know you are here because you want to keep us safe, but it’s ok for me to go to the networking event on my own. I know you may stick around for a while, but you’ll be gone as soon as we meet a few nice people at the event.”
By talking to your fear, and reminding yourself that it won’t last, you may find yourself a bit more comfortable with the challenge ahead of you.
So, while you will likely always have a bit more fear than courage when facing new challenges, you will find that your courage to do it scared is much greater than when you started.
And remember:“If you limit yourself to only what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect from what you truly want, and all that remains is a compromise.” Robert Fritz