Fear. What do you do when you are feeling it? Does it stop you? Do you work around it? Does it limit you? Do you push your way past it?
In the coaching world, one of our jobs as coaches is to help our clients accomplish that which they haven’t been able to accomplish without our help.
Many coaches view the challenge through the lens of motivation.
In her 1987 book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, author Susan Jeffers states, “At the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can’t handle whatever life may bring you.” She goes on later to say, “The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.”
The idea is that by forcing yourself to take action that you are afraid to take, you will override your belief that you can’t handle whatever comes your way and, as a result, feel better about yourself, build confidence and overcome the fear. “The only way to feel better about myself is to go out…and do it.”
She also warns that growing can be hazardous because, “The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.”
So, her solution is simple. “All you have to do to diminish your fear is to develop more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way!” And the only way to handle whatever comes your way is to meet it head on and handle it!
After all, “If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear?”
As you read these quotes from her book, how is your body reacting? Are you ready to go out and tackle your fears? Or do you just want to hide and give up? Susan Jeffers tells us its all about how you hold the fear. You can let the fear control you or your can realize how powerful you are by doing the thing that is generating the fear anyhow.
There’s another very popular motivational approach that has more recently caught on by wildfire. The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins is essentially stating the same idea. Depressed? Anxious? Count backwards from five and launch yourself into action!
But what if the problem with fear isn’t really about motivation? Let’s look at it through a different lens. Let’s look at fear through the lens of logic.
Most of the fears that stop us don’t actually and presently exist in the world. We imagine the worse and then feel the fear as if the worse is about to happen.
Recently I discovered that much of my life is sculpted by strategies I have developed over my lifetime to protect myself. These strategies were designed to protect me at a time when I didn’t believe I could handle the hurt, disappointment, shame, embarrassment, humiliation and pain of risking and failing. These strategies quickly became habits. They are now automatic reactions when life adds pressure to fear I suppressed years ago. I’m not even aware that I’m using these strategies. At best, I feel the fear again and do what I can to manage it by attempting to overcome it or run from it.
For example, I learned at a pretty young age that big boys don’t cry. The punishment for crying was humiliation and ridicule by the people who I depended on for love and support. I learned very early to shut down sadness. I learned how to close off my heart. With a closed heart, I felt safer. Soon, I overcame those silly, weak and ridiculous feelings and subconsciously kept them suppressed and undetected.
Ever notice how powerful some of your emotions can be? Have you ever noticed that practically everything that you do is done to manage those emotions?
Circumstances occur. You feel something. Then you react to that feeling to embrace it, manage it or avoid it.
If its a feeling you like, you embrace it.
If its an uncomfortable feeling, you manage it.
If its a feeling you have learned to avoid or that you don’t believe you can handle, you go into automatic and your protective strategies take over.
But sometimes even those life long automatic strategies don’t work. Sometimes circumstances create so much pressure that the energy behind those feelings is too great to manage.
That’s when the fear kicks in. That’s when the fear threatens to stop you in your tracks. And in that moment, you are completely disempowered. You are in survival mode. From this state of disempowerment, you can dig down deep and force yourself to “do it anyway.”
If this is how you are trying to achieve success, you must be exhausted. This is not a sustainable model for success. Despite the fear, you may successfully achieve the objectives that you hope will bring the success you seek. So why don’t you feel successful? Why are you so unhappy?
Resistance, not fear is what prevents fulfillment. When fear is present and you take action despite that fear, are you feeling the fear? Or are you resisting it?
What might happen if you knew how to actually be with the fear? If you could let it run its course? To do this, you’ll have to let go of your resistance. Without resistance, the fear will run its course. The energy that has remained suppressed will finally be released and free you up. In the absence of the fear, there is no resistance. In the absence of fear and resistance you will have access to motivation, inspiration, clarity and wisdom. You will feel lighter and will be more easily connect with who you were before you began handling your fear.
Notice your resistance and drop it. Allow the fear. Let it run its course. Then, and only then, when there is no fear and no resistance, take the action.
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