Friends often ask me how I do what I do:
‘Doesn’t it scare you to stand in front of 40 people and have them all looking at you?’
‘Without knowing exactly what to say?’
‘How are you able to be so vulnerable and tell about the hurt in your life to people you don’t know that well?’
‘I would like to blog or vlog as well, but it isn’t good enough so I keep procrastinate making it public.’
My response is usually the same:
‘I feel the fear and do it anyway.’
I am not fearless. Not at all.
I get nervous about lots of things. I do get nervous when I go on stage and invite a hundred people to go crazy and then share something intimate about themselves to promote connection, leading by example. ‘Will they recognize it or is this just me?’
I get scared about little everyday things just the same. I could get nervous about not knowing what to say. About being perceived as boring. Or too wild.
The thing is, we aren’t trapped by our fears.
It’s the hiding from fear that’s trapping us.
It’s the avoidance of things that scare us that keeps up locked up. These are the actual blocks that we want to bust through.
Look at it this way: we all experience stress from time to time. Some people think stress is bad for you. These people will suffer the consequences when they experience stress and, ultimately, they will live shorter lives than the second group.
There are also people who see stress as their friend. They think stress is good for them and they use it as fuel for whatever they want to achieve. Studies show that these people do not suffer any negative consequences from stress and they actually outlive the former group!
So again, it’s not fear that traps us. It’s the hiding from fear that’s trapping us.
It’s the meta-cognition that makes the difference. It’s what you believe about stress or fear that defines your outcome.
Let’s say you’re scared to reach out to get your dream job. You might think you aren’t reaching out because of the fear. But really, you are not reaching out because you’re trying to avoid the feeling of fear. You’re trying to say no to what it.
Practice enduring fear. It will serve you greatly. Just think about all the things you get to do when it’s ok to be scared of them and do it anyway!
Here’s a great exercise (from the movie E-motion) you can use:
- Sit down in a space you won’t be disturbed.
- Relax. Take a few slow, deep breaths to centre yourself.
- What do you see when you think about that situation that you felt scared about?
- Place you hand over your heart. Breathe.
- What are you afraid of? What do you see?
The purpose here is to endure the fear, to keep breathing and to stay present. And let your feelings just flow without wanting any particular outcome.
For me, fear has become a sign of growth. Of stepping outside my comfort zone. It tells me my dreams are big enough. But also that I’m human and my body and mind are one.